Corrupt Systems

Pollution is a sort of easy to see example of a corruption problem. Costs are diffused benefits are concentrated.

“There’s an old-fashioned word for this: corruption. In corrupt systems, a few bad actors cost everyone else billions in order to bring in millions – the savings a factory can realize from dumping pollution in the water supply are much smaller than the costs we all bear from being poisoned by effluent. But the costs are widely diffused while the gains are tightly concentrated, so the beneficiaries of corruption can always outspend their victims to stay clear.” – Cory Doctorow

Social media or the internet business model is corrupt in this way too.

Plastic pollution fits well.

Examples could also be found in banking, and campaign finance, and industrial farming, and …

Do these corrupt systems need to be created or driven by evil people? I don’t think so, it’s just that a little bit of negligence can go a long way, and that is part of what makes them so scary. Ordinary nice people, who maybe don’t tend to see the big picture well (which might be most people?) can be cogs in this machine, and even passionate drivers of it. They do just fine with sleeping at night in spite of it all, and usually can find some reasonable justifications if bits of the corruption do start to become apparent to them. So there is no conspiracy, in the traditional sense, behind so much of the nefarious forces that influence our lives, just the cold inhumane machine of corrupt systems.

Now, if only there were a better mechanism to keep those forces in check rather than the vastly corruptible government systems…


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