What do you think about corruption? (any examples?)

You probably have heard of ENRON, once one of the most innovative and successful companies in the US. Then in 2001 ENRON collapsed because of a major corruption scheme. Now, what do you think of corruption? What is your definition of corruption and how prevalent is corruption in your country? According to Transparency International, Iceland is the country with the lowest level of corruption, or in other words, Iceland is the most transparent country. Interestingly enough, according to the 2005 Corruption Perceptions Index, the level of corruption in Germany and the US is much higher than in Singapore or in Hong Kong.

I think corruption is an integral part of many societies. For example, there are countries where it is daily practice to stop a private car on the street, negotiate a price with the driver and use their transportation services. I would classify this practice as a mild form of corruption because neither the customer nor the service provider pays any taxes in this instance.

As for Germany, I would classify the further education system as highly ineffective to the point where corruption is institutionalized. I mean, any person in their right mind will understand that most of the state funded training programs in Germany could easily be improved and new jobs could be created. Still, no real progress is made in this area because the administration is powerful and the unemployed are not organized and determined enough to change the system.

Do you know any examples of corruption? If so, let’s share them here to get a better picture of our environment.


TOEIC short conversations: A radio news anchorman asks his colleague for a weather update[YSaerTTEW443543]

Corruption usually happens when bureaucracy or poorly conceived laws prevent people from getting things they need or doing things they have to do.

In the Czech Republic a doctor once made out a phony prescription for medicine and had me take it to the pharmacy. He had actually made out the prescription to another person and ordered me to tell the pharmacist that the lady was confined to bed and that I was there on her behalf. Theoretically, this should have been unnecessary, because I had national health insurance and all my visa papers were in order. However, it’s so common there for all types of bureaucracy to resist cooperating in any transaction involving a foreigner, that the doctor felt the government would give him and the pharmacy too much trouble and might not even pay them. When I got to the pharmacy, the pharmacist knew what was going on, and she filled the prescription free, I think without even reporting it. This was all corruption, but the professionals felt it was necessary in order for me to get my medicine. In my opinion, something like that is justified.

Here in the United States, I have heard of a case where the government gave a man a visa to immigrate, but wouldn’t allow his wife into the country. There was no apparent reason for this; the bureaucracy just didn’t want to give her a visa. Finally, his own brother, who was a US citizen, went back to their home country and “married” his brother’s wife. She was given a visa, and after three years she could get US citizenship, divorce the brother, and marry her real husband. This is corruption too. Is it justified, or should the man have moved back to his own country?

Here is another one: A man’s wife is having an affair, and he is sure she is going to divorce him. He has a considerable amount of property he has acquired during their marriage – without her help – and if he loses any of this property, he’ll lose his ability to continue his business or profession. So he transfers all of this property to a trusted friend for one dollar, and will buy it back when the divorce is finished. (As a concrete example, a professional musician once transferred her instruments to my sister in this way, because if her very nonproductive husband got them liquidated in a divorce settlement, she would not be able to work in her profession.) This is corruption. Is it wrong?

i think corruption exist in every countries. But sometimes its effect is too large , that’s when everybody recognizes it and agrees that’s bad for them… In my country, corruption is damaging teh system of education… Almost students are asking the same question: What are they sudying for? Because the result can be bought by money . But noone is brave enough to change this situation.So day by day. they are still living with it.
Some of us, who have enough money or have enough talent., are finding another bright way by going abroad. But not to run away from our country. All of them, who are studying abroad , are looking forward to their hometown.
Anyway, i think this question will be answered soon in my country.
P.S: my english is not good, is it?

Hi all!

Like Torsten wrote corruption is an integral part of many societies. Only that the word corruption always has a bad smack. It is similar to the regards between problems-issues, challeneges, opportunities. In the industrial trade it would better be called help for making decisions. And how could one value it? I mean if providers try to sale for example expensive investment goods they certainly always have competitors which provide a similar to even good having the same price. So that the customers need any help. And what is this help to find a decision? Corruption! As corruption is supposed to be making anybody a fortune so that that person decides for the provider?s offering. I remember working at a machine factory I often saw that the trainees on the job had to clean up a special house on the companies area after weekend. They often had to carry away different party relics as there were from empty champaign bottles to women?s underwear and “used” condoms. And mostly you could hear about a good buisiness that was made recently after.
That isn?t the only case of corruption (help for making decisions) I know about. So, how to value that? For the competitors it wasn?t good, of course. But for the company and their occupators it was positive because good buisinesses of the company means profits for the company and work for the occupators.


PS: Ocean_gemini, as you asked, you have basic English skills I think and you made a good decision to join this site. If you use it often, it will make you a fortune for your English skills! 8)

Hi Torsten,

There can be all kinds of corruption, I think. Both large-scale and small. As Jamie mentioned, sometimes it’s hard to criticize some forms of corruption.

I’ve heard a story (more than once) that some people in Germany buy bogus university diplomas (usually in South America). I’ve never researched this story, though. Is there any truth to it? I mean, it seems plausible enough when you take into account the degree of importance that is placed on educational “titles” in Germany. It seems like everybody and their brother includes “Dipl.-Ing.” (or something similar) with their name on most written documents. I’ve even seen those titles attached to very informal writing.

Another topic that comes to mind is that people sometimes consider not paying taxes or paying as little as possible a kind of “sport”: Is this OK or not? I can see pros and cons. One the one hand, why shouldn’t people take advantage of every possible write-off? On the other hand, what if the write-off is not really true or illegal? Of course, taxes are a necessary evil, but the German tax code, for example, is massive and also very bureaucratic. It’s basically impossible for the average person to know exactly what he’s entitled to (or not entitled to). It’s not transparent in the least. This probably helps to explain the huge number of tax consultants in Germany. For many (or maybe even most?) people in Germany, the fact that hiring a tax consultant is completely unavoidable tends to breed corruption, wouldn’t you say? Not only must the taxes be paid, but in order to determine how much, you also need to pay a tax consultant. Therefore, why shouldn’t a person be entitled to cheat a little in order to make up the difference? :lol:

Maybe my most direct experience with what I see as corruption was my experience building a house. Having had no previous experience with house building, I had no idea just how dishonest and corrupt people in this industry could be. As a non-expert, you have to trust that the experts you’ve hired not only know what they’re doing, but will also adhere at least to the minimum building code and the contract. And, it didn’t seem unreasonable to me to expect good work. After all, Germany is world reknowned for its “quality”. I discovered the hard way that this is not always the case. In order for me to have kept my house-building problems to a reasonable minimum, I would have had to have had ([size=75]oh my God! What a verb construction![/size] :lol:) a full-time outside expert to oversee the “experts” I’d already hired. Now, I’m sure some of the problems were simply human error, but many of the things that were done wrong on my house were quite obviously done wrong knowingly. (It wasn’t obvious to me until later — after I’d been forced to inform myself about many details that it shouldn’t have been necessary for me, as a non-expert, to know about.) The shortcuts were simply taken in order to save money and maximize profit. For these people there was not the least bit of interest in the fact that ignoring building code (e.g., the so-called “DINs”, etc.) could lead to big problems or severe damage to the house within a short period of time. These people bank on the fact that their “shortcuts” will outlast the guarantee or that the homeowner won’t notice the problems until after the guarantee is over, and then the cheaters are off the hook. “Unfortunately” for my contractor, many of the problems became apparent shortly after I moved in. But even then, the repairs often didn’t really solve the problems, but rather were designed simply to hide them as cheaply as possible. Nowadays, my opinion of my contractor is that he’s not only dishonest, but also corrupt. And his dishonesty and corruptness have cost me dearly.

Hi Michael,

I enjoyed reading your post very much, but I’d also like to mention that you need to say “bad taste” and not “bad smack”. :lol: Also, I don’t think “occupator” is actually a word. I think you must have meant “employees”. (Arbeitgeber = employer, Arbeitnehmer = employee)


You are right Amy. Titles, formal documents, certificates, diplomans, credentials and other types of written statements are very important in Germany. If you have obtained a Ph.D. in Germany or even if you are just a “Dipl.-Ing”, you advertise your title whenever you can using all available techniques. For example you will put your title before your name on your mailbox or the door to your apartment.

I agree with you, the German tax system is highly complex and similar to an impenetrable jungle full of traps. An accountant I have spoken to recently, told me that he needs to read several pages on tax regulation every week in order to keep up to date of the latest changes. Ever since the German collection office started accepting electronic tax declarations, the number of objections against tax claims has risen dramatically causing huge delays in processing the inquiries.

Amy, I’m sorry to hear you’ve had trouble with your contractor. Have you tried using the media or a professional mediator to improve the situation?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: Two employees talk about their respective weekends[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten

Yes, I did consider the media, and in fact, I was actually approached to be part of one of those “house-building troubles” TV shows. In the end, I decided it was entirely possible that such a show might accomplish nothing at all and could even end up making things worse. So, I decided against it.

Some of the “repair opportunities” (:lol:) were successfully negotiated/mediated, but ultimately (and unfortunately), many had to be decided in court. It’s taken almost 6 years. At the moment, the last of the corrections/repairwork is finally being done. But getting my builder to do things (and also do things properly) has been like pulling teeth. Or worse.

The whole experience has had one positive effect, though. And that’s the effect it had on my German. I had to do a lot of things I’d never had to do before. Often quite intensively.

First, I had to do a lot more writing in German. Most of it was connected with describing and explaining things, clarifying, requesting information. Of course the constant practice helped me improve.

Second, I also had to do lots of research and reading (internet sites, manufacturers, forums, legal texts, expert opinions, etc.). So, I got a lot of additional reading practice and my vocabulary grew. My house-building vocabulary is now pretty darn sizable and I know words that most of my German friends don’t even know. :lol: Unfortunately, I don’t always know all of the English translations. Can you believe that? :shock: Many of the words that I simply learned in context had been previously completely unknown to me in both English and German. I didn’t just learn words, though. I was able to learn whole phrases, improve my grammar, and so on. My experience just goes to show, you can learn vocabulary simply from context and without ever translating the words into your native language. The key is exposure and then active use of the vocabulary and phrases.

Third, there were also new types of listening challenges. Not all of the workers were German, so there was a variety of accents to deal with. Talking to my contractor taught me to understand “evasive talk” in German better. One of my experts (in German Sachverst?ndiger) comes originally from the northernmost part of Germany, and I can tell you, I think it was hardest to get used to his pronunciation than all of the others put together. :lol: But I think that is also due to the fact that he’s what I would refer to as a “motor mouth” (i.e, he speaks at high speed).

And, finally, there was speaking practice. Of course, that involved practice in some areas that I previously hadn’t had to deal with very often. And there’s nothing like getting a word out of your mouth (in a meaningful sentence, of course) in order to learn it well.

So, I guess my experience proves that there is some truth to the saying “every cloud has a silver lining”. But I’ll tell you a little secret: I’m not planning to ever reveal any of what I’ve just written to my contractor. :wink:


Hi Amy!

First of all I like to thank you for referring to my two mistakes. I don?t know which devil forced me to use the word (or unword ) occupators. :oops: The second regards obviously to my lack of proficience.

But would you share to us which sort of house you?ve built? It seems to be one in “Ready-Build-Way”. Some of the [size=84]let me speak about [/size]problems is that companies who sell houses from that kind think that their employees don?t need to have special knowledges, so that they of course employ people who usually don?t have the skills they needed and because of that they also don?t get much money for their work. Often those houses will be offered for a small account as long as you decide for a standard house. But if you have special requirements to your house the price raises up, but the quality decreases. I think that is a general problem in Germany. For me that is one of the German problems since opening the borders in the EU. Although there are certainly advantages but not only! That is what I sometimes tried to refer to and nobody liked to hear. While, of course, the standards of the members of the EU must be approximated the standards of many members raised up but the standards of some others decreased. And your problem with building a house stands in straight regards to this circumstance. I can imagine how annoying that is. By the way, this circumstance had been refered to by some respected authorities still years ago. But like you mentioned most of your problems had got solved and I wish you can enjoy your house now.


Guys, I live in Eastern Europe, tell me about it. You have absolutely no idea what it’s like to want to watch the news and to know that there will be something like the chief prosecutor has been arrested for corruption or three children killed their mate yesterday brought on. I wouldn’t wish it to my greatest enemy. Instead of sharing opinions about corruption, try to imagine how we could stop it. And it’s not only paid authority that is evil in this world. Change yourselves and you change it all! Just think about this.

Every level of our society, no matter in which coutry we live, is corrupted or at least susceptible to bribery.

I was born in former Yugoslavia and has been living in Canada since 2000. In former Yugoslavia bribery has been present for ages and somewhat played a very important role in the history of this country. During the Ottoman’s invasion of Serbia in 19th century, for Milos Obrenovic, the Prince of Serbia, the most effective and perhaps the only way to stay in power and negotiate lower taxes for occupied Serbians was taking advantage of the corrupted Turkish officials.

Those were the times when “diplomacy” was equal to a “bribe”. I believe that this form of corruption still exists in most of the coutries, however it is skillfully concealed.

Taking shortcuts by bribing for some people has probably become a part of life.

Every time this word “corruption” is mentioned, I can not help but to think about medical experts in the hospitals back home. Since most of the doctors make hardly enought to survive, they accept bribes. Bribes in any form, money, presents etc. What happened with “The Hippocratic Oath”?

There is one saying in my language which goes like this:" Para vrti tamo gdje burgija ne moze". A poor English translation would be:" Money makes a hole where the drilling machine can not".

What do you think, how has all this bribery thing begun?

I tend to think that if there were not people offering a bribe, there would not be those accepting it.

Some countries have a bigger corruption problem than others. It is much easier to bribe someone (and not get arrested) in the former Soviet Bloc countries, for example, than it is in the US, the UK or Germany. One of my Armenian students said that the first warning her parents gave her when they picked her up from the airport in the US was, “DON’T TRY TO BRIBE THE POLICE!” Some of our police take bribes, but assuming you can bribe a policeman here will get you a quick trip to jail.

I hear they call it “The Hypocritic(al) Oath” these days!!

Hi, about good and bad;
American Army Police and American Army in the Germany after the Second World War was awful corrupted , the same people back
in USA were normally quite loyal and honest … . Why ?

African Countries in average are much more " rich "
( size ,natural resources, agricultural land, population etc…) than Holland or Japan and people believe me or not are able for hard work. Why they are then so poor ??

I heard something like “we never have poor countries we only have thieves in charge of some countries”.

It is not entirely true because Norway was poor compare even to the East Europe up to 70’s and the government was not corrupted but in many cases I agree with that sentence.

On the second hand I never follow robbery even with official
status and do the smuggling of everything and will do this.
Why me should give up against some kind of tax tyranny they so and so really “like” spoiling that money and the policy about to keep
taxes up to 30 - 50% of income is pure a banditry behaviour.
Everything has to be with common sense without independent common sense we extinct
The court sentence for just trying to bribe a policeman in UK or Germany ( Germany I don’t know for sure) is about 10 years prison.
If in Poland would be only 5 years You wouldn’t find anybody even thinking to corrupt them.

One of the prime examples of Third World corruption is the United Nations. There was that Oil for Food scandal with Iraq, which gave Saddam money to build his palaces and weapons without actually giving the people much food. There’s all that rape and pedophilia by UN employees in refugee camps in various parts of the world, and I have read that in some places UN employees use UN trucks to transport weapons for terrorist groups. Nothing can change there, because the UN claims it “polices itself”.

I can’t agree more. These are shocking facts indeed, but we shouldn’t forget what happened to Serbia, my neighbours. The United States attacked them without UN’s permission and of course there were no consequences for them to take responsibility for their actions. Now, Serbia seems to be recovering, but the result of that horrible and pointless attack is uncorrectable.

I wonder, what would the US do if Mexico decided to take back California, for example? Would they make it an independent republic? I don’t think so. And I can’t imagine how come people still want to study there! Great Britain is the best!

I think it may have had something to do with the fact that Serbia was on an ethnic genocide campaign in a couple parts of the former Yugoslavia. The UN tends not to do anything about genocides (as in Rwanda and Sudan), and the European nations tend to talk and talk until the genocide job is almost finished. When the UN does want something done, it often expects the US to carry the main burden.

Well, if California were mainly populated by ethnic Mexicans who had lived there for at least 1,000 years, they might cut it loose and make it a separate republic. More than likely, they’d put it up for a referendum in California (which would lose, because there aren’t many residents of California who would prefer to be governed by Mexico). One thing they certainly wouldn’t do is claim that the state was historically white, send a bunch of white men in to exterminate the Mexican majority and claim the state for whites. In this century, that wouldn’t be possible.

You’re reminding me of a funny line from that war. Serbian forces destroyed the famous bridge in Mostar. When criticized for destroying such a precious landmark, the Serbian commander said, “We’ll build a new bridge more beautiful and ancient than the old one!”

Have you visited the US?

Do you mean that the Albanians from Kosovo claimed that it was historically their land?? Now that is funny! Thirty years ago they were five or ten per cent of the population of Kosovo. They belong to Albania and if they wanted to have their own republic, they should have simply moved to Albania. In fact, all the people I know from Kosovo never had such an idea, and that makes me think that some people didn’t want a republic as big as Serbia to exist on the Balkan peninsula. Maybe you should read a bit more about Balkan history and, referring to the San Stefano peace treaty, remind yourself who controls what happens here- those who can destroy us. So, when the Serbians disobeyed the Americans, they attacked them, but I never heard that the UN gave them a permission to do so. I was even more offended to hear that our forces allowed NATO to use Bulgarian airspace and to fly over our lands! And that is called neighbours!

OK, then I will change my rhetoric question a little bit: What will the US do if California was populated mainly by Mexicans, it is still one of their most famous resorts, and they want to make it a separate republic? As we saw with Kosovo, that could happen for thirty years!

Anyway, in Bulgarian papers was written a lot about the war, as it would be for any war, so although I was eleven at the time, I heard a lot about it as it was the most discussed thing for years to come.

To your question if I had visited the US, I haven’t, and I never will. I don’t agree with your president’s ideas of controlling the world and with all the other governments’ ideas of supporting him. If I ruled my own state, maybe I would also agree with him- there is no other choice. We all saw what happened to Serbia. The main reason why I don’t want to continue my education in the US is that there is a lack of freedom for the underaged. I am considered an adult here, but I really don’t want to wait till I’m 21 to smoke, drink or even not drink alcohol in a pub! Underaged people are generally allowed to do these things here, therefore I don’t really want to change my habits. My neighbour has an American passport and he sais that we are not even allowed to go out and have a drink with friends! (I don’t like discoes, so I have never asked anyone about them and that’s why they weren’t mentioned here)
I’ve been to Britain and I don’t remember any other country in Europe to have given me greater satisfaction and happiness, as I have been to all the countries in Southern, Eastern, and Central Europe. Maybe the Ballearic islands were a nicer place, but I still like the UK and nobody can change my mind about it. I know that there is also a support for Bush’s ideas, but where isn’t?

As I mentioned before, it would probably be put up to a referendum. US law does have procedures that allow a state to leave the union if it wants to, but so far no state has wanted to. Generally Mexicans come to California because they accept the American way of doing things, and they want to be part of it, not because they want to “take California back”.

The one thing you can be sure the US would not do is what the Serbs did to the Kosovar Albanians, the Croatians, the Bosnians and others. They sent paramilitary forces into those areas who killed masses of men from the other ethnic groups. They frequently killed all the non-Serbian men in an entire town, whether they were combatants or not. The Serbs also terrorized the populace by raping and impregnating large numbers of “enemy” women. It was a frequent occurrence for raped Croatian and Bosnian women to arrive in Slovenia, give birth to the baby in the hospital, and leave it there, explaining that it was the offspring of a Serbian rapist.

You really need to discuss this part of history with some Bosnians and Croatians.

Yes. Bill Clinton told Serbia to stop the genocide in the other parts of the former Yugoslavia and enter negotiations. Bill was a big fan of the UN, so that’s who would have been involved. Serbia continued to murder entire towns of men, military and civilian, so it was bombed into compliance. The Serbs could have done what the Czechs did, which was to let those republics go in a civilized manner, without ever picking up a gun, but instead they chose genocide and terrorism.

So it’s for the children’s reason. This shows that you are forming your opinions on American society based on almost no knowledge. For several years the legal drinking age was lowered to 18 in most states, and in most of Canada. This resulted in a huge increase in highway accidents and deaths. In Bulgaria you probably can’t drive until you’re 18, and it would probably be many more years before you can afford a car. In the US, teenagers can drive at 16, and by 18 they usually have cars. Since the distances in the US are vast, and the cities are huge and complex, the main means of transportation in most places is private cars. This means that an 18-year-old who drank usually then got behind the wheel of a car. Not only that, but since many 18-year-olds are still in high school, they would buy alcohol for their friends who were 16 and 17. They would also get drunk, get behind the wheel of their cars, and kill other people, and themselves. Raising the drinking age back to 21 brought the rate of highway deaths back down to where it was before.

I have lived in Eastern Europe, and I have seen how blind drunk 18-year-olds there routinely get. If they had cars, there would be a national catastrophe. As it is, this alcohol results in a lot more rapes, beatings and other crimes that probably would not occur if teenagers could not drink there.

In the US, people have full rights at age 18, but they cannot buy alcohol, which is not a right anyway, but a privilege. You would probably be very upset to know that there are some states, like Mississippi and Arkansas, and some towns, where it is completely illegal for anyone to buy or sell alcohol no matter what their age.

I have also been to Britain, and I found the society and the people strangely similar to those in America. I did not feel like I was in a foreign country.

Jamie (K), I really don’t see what you’ve been doing in Eastern Europe (where every country is unique, because I don’t think that Romanians and Bulgarians have anything in common) after you haven’t gotten to know the people. As a matter of fact, I have been driving MY car which I bought with MY money since I was fourteen. I will be eighteen this Saturday, I still have no lisence and I haven’t been involved in any accidents. I have 292 in TOEFL cBT, I also have Cambridge CAE and FCE and I am attending iBT on Friday. Alcohol has never been forbidden for me, but it is MY choice if I am going to drink and then drive. That is a cuiside. Simple ethics. Also, I don’t smoke when I drive, because dropping my cigarrette could cause death to many people. I don’t believe that smoking or drinking should be banned for anyone, as long as they KNOW HOW TO KEEP OUT OF TROUBLE. Some people become mature early, and you can’t say that Americans or Bulgarians are such and such. I can say that this American is a jerk and that the other is a genius. There is always a black sheep in the flock, but we can’t judge about the flock by the actions of a single sheep. That’s what my grandmother sais, and I believe that she is right.

So, my personal conclusion from what I experience and what I see on TV (nobody can deny that the media is the third power in the world), I believe that alcohol, drugs and smoking should be allowed individually. If someone is caught to be driving after drinking, his lisense should be taken away and never retrieved. If someone is caught to be smoking where babies come to play all the time (when babies are present, of course), I don’t believe that I will argue with you that he should be feed.

The problem is that other smokers and drinkers don’t understand that they should keep to some ethic rules. If others are not to be disturbed by smoke, then don’t disturb then. But the government is not right, too. Smoking is a multi-billion-dollar business, which will be voluntarily handed over to criminals. I will no doubt become one of them, because I get personal satisfaction and an escape from stress by this single thing that politicians want to ban. Instead of prohibiting tobacco, they should explain to the public what is ethic and what is not.

Smoking is partially forbidden in Bulgaria, but at the moment the community started to rebel, the situation changed back to normal. Seven children were murdered in a disco- the only consequence is that my personal identification card is asked at the entrance and no matter whether I am underaged or not, I enter as long as I have one. People here get them when we are fourteen. My driving and also working has never been a problem here- corruption is widespread, nearly everywhere. Economical police came today in my house to look for my father.So don’t tell me to become an adult because I don’t want to. They might come for me some day.

As long as I keep my brain working, I can do as I wish. Nobody can stop me in this country, and nobody wants to.