the deflationary spiral of corruption

Best story today about the most recent political scandal in Illinois? This piece from NPR's marketplace, that despite how valuable you might think a US Senate seat is, "repeatedly, we see politicians take, not in the millions of dollars, which we might expect and which by the way we do see in foreign countries all the time. We see them in the United States selling themselves for a few thousand dollars a shot."

It's kinda sad -- think big, people! But here are my four theories for why corruption runs so cheap in the US:
  1. cowardice perhaps small payements are easier to hide, perhaps they're still somewhat ashamed of their own corrupt inclinations
  2. low value perhaps the majority of the system is still honest, meaning that there just isn't a large pool of buyers and not a lot of money to be made for buying a senate seat
  3. we're only catching the small fish maybe we're only getting the folks with small imaginations or small resources; the big fish spend part of their haul making sure they don't get caught. Or am I being a bit paranoid?
  4. the big money is easier to get The pols that really want to make money just come back as lobbyists and consultants, or get jobs with Blackwater and Halliburton...


  1. There was something about the bits of Blagojevich's conversations that I read that really read like he was loving seeing himself as a powerful enough guy that people wanted to pay him off. I think the money is only part of the reason he makes demands.

    But it's a good point that I hadn't thought about -- how little these bribes really are.

  2. Turns out that Blago was totally underselling the post: