When it comes to the “abuse of entrusted power,” which is how Transparency International defines “corruption,” the United States does not fare well. And the most corrupt institution is the White House, of which 44% of survey respondents said “all” or “most” of White House officials are involved in corruption.
That total, as bad as it sounds, is not that much higher than the 36% of respondents who defined the White House as corrupt in last year’s Transparency International survey. The big difference is in the percentage of respondents who say the level of corruption has risen in the past 12 months: 58% compared to 38% in the 2016 survey.
Transparency International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 1993 that it claims is “dedicated to fighting corruption.”
Transparency International ranked U.S. public officials in nine groups .Trailing the president and other White House officials rankings as all or mostly corrupt are members of Congress (38%), government officials (33%), business executives (32%), local government (23%), religious leaders (22%), tax officials (21%), police (20%) and judges and magistrates (16%).
In the group’s 2017 survey of global corruption, “all” or “most” government officials were said to be corrupt by 35% of respondents, below the U.S. score for both 2016 and 2017. More than a third (36%) of global respondents said that the police were all or mostly corrupt.
Among U.S. respondents, nearly three-quarters (74%) said that ordinary citizens can make a difference in the struggle against corruption. The perceived increase in U.S. corruption has led to a shift in how to combat it. In this year’s survey, 25% of respondents say that activism (for example, marching in a protest, signing a petition, boycotting a business) are among the most effective measures ordinary citizens can take to battle corruption. Last year just 17% said the same thing.
The most effective way to fight corruption, according to the U.S. respondents is to vote. More than a quarter (28%) said that voting for a candidate or party committed to fighting corruption is the most effective thing they can do. That’s down from 34% in the 2016 survey.
Overall, among the 176 countries ranked in Transparency International’s 2016 corruption perceptions index, the United states ranked 18th with a score of 74 (out of a possible 100). The top ranked countries were Denmark and New Zealand, both with scores of 90. Canada ranked ninth with a score of 82, and all four Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland) ranked in the top six.
Based on the latest U.S. survey, the 2017 corruption perceptions index could take a real nose-dive. Sad.
See the full Transparency International report and methodology at the organization’s website.