Sunday, July 15, 2007


The Chinese know how to deal with corruption. When they found Zheng Xiaoyu, former head of the State Food and Drug Administration, guilty of taking bribes to approve untested medicine, they executed him. Just like that. Bad official terminated -- with prejudice.

I'm not a big fan of capital punishment, so this seems a tad severe. That said, where I don't think the death sentence does much of a job in deterring most murderers, I can see where it might have an immediate and positive effect on governmental corruption. Take a bribe, get a seat in the electric chair. Say goodbye to undue lobbyist influence!

If this sort of thing were instituted in the United States, there'd be a long line for the firing squad. Messrs. Bush and Cheney would be at the front of the line, of course, followed closely by Brownie and Gonzales and all their minions, down to the hapless assistants who can't bring themselves to say much of anything in front of Congressional committees. There's so much corruption and cronyism in the Bush/Cheney administration, it would probably be easier to single out the innocent bureaucrats than to name all the guilty ones.

Unfortunately, in the U.S. our corrupt politicians don't get punished for their crimes; instead, they benefit from them. There's no deterrent when offenders get a medal from the president and a fat book contract, instead of being taken to task for what they've done. In China, they execute corrupt officials; in the U.S., we reward them. How's that for an enlightened Western civilization?

I'm not proposing instituting the death penalty for governmental corruption. (In fact, I'm an opponent of the death penalty in general.) But I do think we need to get our moral and ethical act together and root out corruption and cronyism at all levels of government. Even if we don't line the crooks up against a wall and give them a blindfold and a cigarette, we can still throw the bums out on their bums. The bad apples have to go -- it's time to clean up our governmental orchard.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.


Damian said...

Hey, we're taking most of our cues on things from China (as well as most of the things we sell in the US), so why not take this idea from them?

Anonymous said...

Maybe we could outsource some of our justice system...

Anonymous said...

People were executed after Nuremburg for launching an illegal, aggressive war. Shouldn't the law treat people similarly situated similarly?

Anonymous said...

Accountability is one thing, and certainly important, but a more fundamental problem is, and remains the institutional framework which nurtures the culture in the first place.

Christopher said...

How about seizing the corrupt politician's and business people's (like Enron and Tyco) assets, such as is done to drug dealers? It would seem that using the logic of taking away ill gotten gains (for the public good), like that used to justify seizing drug dealers assets, could slow down or stop these gross violations of the law and ethics. By making these people accountable in more ways than just legally, you can hit them in the pocketbook where it counts. Take the profit out of corruption and it will lower the number of people willing to take such risks.

The rich break the laws and use their money to keep what they have and get off with as little punishment as possible, while the poor can't afford a good defense and are punished to the fullest exent of the law possible in some cases. Case in point, is Paris Hilton (and Scooter Libby).