8.25.2005

Kleptocracy

I'm still reading The Right Nation. It's not exactly a light read, and there's so much information in there, I need to consume it in bite-sized pieces. So far, I've become totally baffled by Paul Wolfowitz, but I haven't finished the book yet.

I've also discovered a term that's widely used but haven't heard of it until I read the book: Kleptocracy, which is

a pejorative, informal term for a government so corrupt that no pretense of honesty remains. In a kleptocracy the mechanisms of government are almost entirely devoted to taxing the public at large in order to amass substantial personal fortunes for the rulers and their cronies (collectively, kleptocrats), or to keep said rulers in power. Kleptocrats typically use money laundering and/or anonymous banking to protect and conceal their illegal gains.

Kleptocracies are by and large dictatorships or some other form of autocratic government, since democracy makes thievery more difficult to accomplish and conceal.

…The creation of a kleptocracy typically results in many years of general hardship and suffering for the vast majority of citizens as civil society and the rule of law distintegrates. In addition, kleptocrats routinely ignore economic and social problems in their quest to amass ever more wealth. As kleptocrats do not attempt to build or maintain functioning states, or even maintain large security forces for fear of coups d'├ętat, kleptocracies are generally incompetent in the face of social crises, and often collapse into prolonged civil war and anarchy.

Wikipedia even has a list of the "ten most self-enriching leaders in recent years" (towards the bottom of the page).

I don't know how upright people from such awful countries survive there.

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