Thoughts on economics and liberty

Are you serious about removing corruption? Then follow the POSITIVE solution

Basically corruption can be attacked in one of two ways:

a) By ensuring that good people join politics – 'rulers' who do not demand bribes (positive solution)

b) By preventing already corrupt 'rulers' from receiving bribes (negative solution).

I've noticed that a lot of otherwise highly competent people advocate the NEGATIVE solution. But that is not actually a solution. It simply deals with the symptoms, and does not deal with the causes – the underlying MENTAL disease that afflicts the corrupt 'rulers'.


Let me discuss the negative solutions first. What are these solutions?

1. Stop 'criminals' from becoming 'rulers' (the Quraishi solution)

2. Stop corrupt 'ruler' from receiving corrupt offers from international firms (the Transparency International solution)

3. Stop corrupt 'rulers' from stashing money in Swiss accounts (Baba Ramdev solution)

4. Punish corrupt 'rulers' (Lokpal bill – Anna Hazare and IAC solution)
5. Hang the corrupt (Baba Ramdev/ Chinese solution)
Now, ALL evidence so far is that these "solutions" don't work (and they can't!)
Why not?
Imagine a malaria infested area near a stagnant pond.
If you keep killing mosquitoes, or using half-open mosquito nets, or have people who WANT to be bitten by mosquitoes, then you CAN'T get rid of malaria.
Similarly, the corrupt operate in INVISIBLE WAYS. They are blatant, but invisible. And there are LOTS AND LOTS OF THEM.
What's the solution? Drain the pond. Make sure no mosquito can be born in the first place. 
You don't get malaria in the Sahara desert. Make sure you have a clean system.
So what is positive solution? It is very simple. It has JUST ONE MAIN OBJECTIVE: to ensure that good people are EASILY able to enter politics and become 'rulers'.
It is positive, because it ensures that mosquitoes can't get to breed in the first place. It doesn't go about fighting each of the MILLIONS OF MOSQUITOES.
Such good people will of course REDUCE unnecessary government intervention, and get out of the way of the people. They will ensure liberty. If any of them applies socialist policy, then the swamp will come back again.
Think of this as getting BUTTERFLIES instead of mosquitoes:
If we get good people (NOT MOSQUITOES) what happens then?
1. The 'rulers' NEVER demand bribes.
2. The 'rulers' RAPIDLY PUNISH those who offer bribes (or take bribes, below them).
And no one in the business world has any incentive to bribe (although that can't be ruled out – however such business people will be very scared once honest people become 'rulers').
GONE! Corruption gone! Over. Finis.
How can we do it?
2. Remove all limits to electoral funding
3. Ensure the MOST RIGOROUS disclosure requirements for political donations
4. Pay the politicians VERY WELL.
5. Elect politicians who promote classical liberalism.
[Details in BFN]
What will happen then? 
People like me will find it worthwhile to contest elections and many such people will get elected. Today, people like me simply can't contest elections, because the system is designed to REWARD THE CORRUPT and THWART people like me.
Once good people have got elected, they will automatically (without having 'fasts unto death') establish effective systems to catch and punish any residual mosquitoes – the corrupt, etc. That's when negative solutions can help.
But today, just by focusing on negative solutions while ALL OUR POLITICIANS ARE 100% CORRUPT, corruption will never be removed.
Drain the swamp.
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13 thoughts on “Are you serious about removing corruption? Then follow the POSITIVE solution
  1. Seethu

    you lost me at "NEGATIVE SOLUTIONS HAVE VERY LIMITED EFFECT". The Chinese model (though extreme by having death penalty for the corrupt) has worked. US has had corruption in its recent history and addressed it by punishing the wrong doers. I dont see how punishing a wrong doer is a negative solution. And its not easy to flood the system with "good people" when the system is filled with cut-throat street-smart "bad people". Wake up, sir, and smell the coffee. August 16 will answer doubters like you.

  2. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    It is absurd to suggest that the Chinese model has worked. All the best Chinese brains have left China. And China is BELOW India on Transparency International world rankings of corruption.

    Your argument that it is not easy to flood the system with good people is WRONG. Most of the developed world uses the model I’ve suggested – and that ATTRACTS good people to politics. Good people, instead of leaving India, will join politics. We only need 500 odd good people to run India (in the first instance). How hard is that???


  3. Sushil jhunjhunwala

    Sorry to say your experience is not truthful. What is actually happening that good people win elections and they become bad? I have seen umpteen examples of this, Because people support dies the moment you win elections. They demand their work to be done and for that you become part of the corrupt system, you start lying, making money, giving money and what not, if yo want to win election again. or you dissolve in the oblivion.
    So those who stay they bring next generation of their wards or some pimps who carry the dirty work.These are very powerful people very difficult to dislodge from their constituencies just like feudal lords.Without popular movements like the present Anna or Ramlala or JP or Independence or communist, regional, cast this will not be successful.
    Fight corruption with many laws and judicial reforms till then.
    Lokpal of civil society or declaring national asset to overseas accounts may be some help.

  4. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    There is NO possibility of a good person becoming bad.

    If someone becomes “bad” after joining politics, be sure he was bad in the first place.

    FTI has a VERY SERIOUS code of conduct and disciplinary process. Any bad person will SHIVER if he joins FTI, for FTI will boot out such a person when the slightest evidence of his wrongdoing emerges.

    Yes, it is difficult to dislodge the corrupt, but this is what I wrote in a (separate) comment re: Shiv Khera a minute ago:


    I am not Shiv Khera, but I know about his failure. His failure was entirely attributable to failure of strategy. He tried to contest elections without preparation. We need hundreds of leaders spread across India FIRST. Then policy agreements. Then prachar or publicity material and scripts. Then resources. Then reaching out door to door. Then contest elections – across the country in ALL constituencies.

    Anything less than that will fail. Guaranteed.

  5. Sushil jhunjhunwala

    I am sorry I think these views are or may be elitists.
    YOU want to overhaul the system by whom? 
    One parliament member does not get chance to speak, YOU think rules can be made or voted in his favour. You sImply Deny the voter or those elected any decency for his choice. 
    PROBABLY You have not seen good persons doing bad things or bad people doing GOOD .
    Its not black & white in reality.
    Simple rule is if you have a bright idea , it is you who who start the movement like RAJIV DIXIT and may be others.
    One more advice it will be good to study The Money power and the movement against corruption United once what it did in Tamilnadu.

  6. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Sushil
    I don’t know what you are talking about, but it is clear you have not read my work but are making wild comments without any knowledge. Once you read at least BFN let’s talk. OK?

  7. Toni

    We the People are consistently fighting the symptoms of corruption, not the core cause. The core cause is that corruption thrives in secrecy. Politicians ensure that secrecy prevails for them, yet use government resources for unethical control.

    The country’s National Security Agencies are out of control and needs to have State oversight and management; by all provinces. State elected doctors of science (matching State Representatives in number, but with no affiliation) with a certified background in ethical evaluation, would take the place of the corrupt management of judges currently authorizing wire taps and broad unethical monitoring.

    This would allow the National Security Agencies to monitor ALL politicians and corporations for corruption. And identify organized crime systematically.

    Ethically Eliminate ALL Politcal Corruption:

    Representation is non-existent in Government when Corporations and Mafia buy off and threaten our politicians.

    Toni Trebodia

  8. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    I’m afraid that while I partially agree with your analysis about the causes of corruption (lack of transparency), it is only a partial analysis, and misses out many more fundamental public choice incentives.

    I disagree entirely with your “solution” (who will “certify” these “doctors of science”, what is science, what is a doctor?) and will destroy liberty. This solution doesn’t take into account (a) human nature (b) incentives and (c) the huge empirical and theoretical literature on public choice.

    If only reality was as simple as you think.


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