Over many dynasties and centuries, China’s royal palace in the Forbidden City was run by a bureaucracy of 100,000 eunuchs. To get a job, males had to be castrated, and not a few chose castration as a career path. Anyone needing a royal service, gave one hundred taels, say, to a low-ranking eunuch, and after all had taken their cut, six
taels might reach the intended recipient.
Palace eunuchs ran a hopelessly corrupt eunocracy which vied with an equally corrupt officialdom and army, which finally ejected every
eunuch and locked the gates leaving them outside where they stayed wailing and weeping for months. If only cleaning out Congressional corruption were that easy.
Corruption exists at three levels. The bottom is small payments to minor officials. I observed it in Russia when driven by an embassy offiicial. Stopped by a cop, she handed over a note, gave me a sheepish smile, and we were on our way. Here we have storekeepers who pay off safety inspectors and police officers who fix tickets for family and friends.
Mid-level corruption is bribes to turn a blind eye to regulations. A tragic recent example was an earthquake in Sichuan, China, where a school built with sanded concrete collapsed killing thousands of children. Here, we have payments to ignore mine or construction safety, contaminated slaughterhouses, payoffs to election campaigns justified by the “money is speech” doctrine of the U.S. Supreme Court, which illustrates corruption at the highest level.
High level corruption has the widest consequences. A small country tyrant skims export revenues and puts family members in charge of industries and ministries. In the U.S.A, banks and finance companies create fraudulent instruments that legalize theft, corrupt laws define corporations as “people,” and secretly financed election campaigns yield a hopelessly corrupt Congress.
American corruption is clearly superior to the skulking variety of poor backward countries whose thieving tyrants don’t bother to hide their thievery. Ours has succeeded in branding itself as “democracy in action,” and is now so deeply ingrained that no one even recognizes it, except, maybe presidential
candidates Ron Paul and Buddy Roemer, Occupy, and other lone voices crying in the wind.