Degree Project Proposal
1. Design question
How might we use an anti-corruption branding campaign to raise awareness and increase opposition towards our current political system in the hopes of boosting quality of life for lower class families and individuals?
- Which politicians are considered corrupt by the public?
- Which politicians are not considered corrupt by the public?
- How does public perception of whether or not a politician is corrupt effect them getting voted in or not?
- What leads politicians to corruption? The system? Other politicians?
- Why are there so many politicians who accept bribes through campaign donations?
- Do the politicians who take bribes and governing in accordance to those bribes know they are hurting most Americans or are they tricking themselves into believing they are doing good?
- What resistance is there in place to stop politicians from becoming corrupt?
- How is corruption/bribery legal?
- Which side from the political spectrum benefits most from bribery?
- How can the public stand against corrupt politicians and corporations?
- Who is calling out corruption in news media?
- What policies are being held back by corrupt politicians that would help lower class families and individuals?
- What economic markets benefit most from the corrupt system?
- Who is benefitting most with in those economic markets?
3. Proposed audience
The audience could incorporate a variety of people and groups with in the US. The people who would be most effected by this are people who’s needs are most being ignored by corrupt politicians. People who need actions like Medicare for All, erasing student loan debt, implementation of a living wage, green new deal, ending wars, and regulating Wall St. and banking firms to be enacted in order to live happily and securely in the United States.
4. Learning outcomes
I will focus on how powerful people and corporations abuse the corrupt system to legally bribe politicians through campaign donations to get what they want through legislature and law. I want to do research on how they are allowed to bribe government officials legally, what specific ways people are trying to fight the corrupt status quo and who is fighting them, what leads politicians to become corrupt, do they start out with the goal of making bank through donations or do they slowly become corrupted over time?
5. Description of exploration
Finding sources that aren’t apart of the corrupt system and not pushing the status quo agenda will be the hardest part of the research, and the sources I find will help shape the direction I will go in with this project. I will be looking through articles talking about each economic market and what ways they are taking part in corruption, how they are getting away from it, and who is most benefitting. I will also look at articles that talk about how corporations and politicians are able to get away with this system of leadership. The goal is find specific pin points that are easy to call out to get the most people as possible to understand how much corruption is holding the US back when it comes to implementing economic and social policies compared to the rest of the developed world.
6. Project significance
Corruption is the backbone of all problems with in the US when it comes to economic, and social policies. When someone wants to get something done that will do a lot of good for a huge amount of people, usually the reason nothing is ever able to change is due to corruption. Almost every major politically left leaning idea is being pushed away from the public eye by corrupt politicians, journalists, and business people. War, education, healthcare, private prisons, and many more topics that need major changes are constantly being pushed back to the status quo due to the people who control the politicians not wanting anything to change.
Corruption is a topic that spans many different economic markets and is strengthened by the government’s leniency on the topic. These sources are meant to paint a full picture of the different economic markets that are being effected by the corruption rooted with in the system. There are a couple articles that are meant to bring up corruption used as a whole by the government, and then there is at least one article per economic market this project will be focusing on. Through the diversity of topics shown in the articles, a full picture is painted with the all the minor details relating to corruption.
Stephenson, Matthew Stephenson. “A History of Corruption in the United States.” Harvard Law Today, 19 Jan. 2021, today.law.harvard.edu/a-history-of-corruption-in-the-united-states/.
How has corruption evolved in the United States of America throughout the late 19th and early 20th century, and how does it compare to how things are done in present day politics. The authors defines traditional corruption has the type of corruption that was happening during the time when America was at its most overall corrupt, during the late 19th and early 20th century, when bribery in its true form and embezzlement were used as a tool by most politicians and corporations regularly. It contrasts with how things are done in present day where actual bribery and embezzlement is socially looked down upon in politics, but an alternate form of bribery protected constitutionally where corporations use campaign donations and political funding as payment and then give suggestions on things politicians should do is used by most establishment politicians on both parties. This article shows a strong connections between how corruption was conducted in in the past compared to present.
Greytak, Scott. “U.S. Hits New Low in Global Corruption Index — Press.” Transparency.org, Transparency Internation, 23 Jan. 2020, www.transparency.org/en/press/2019-cpi-us-hits-new-low#.
The United States of America has scored its lowest in eight years in the Global Corruption Index. This Index draws from dozen independent expert assessments and surveys to measure public perception in over 180 countries. The United States of America has dropped to a score of 69 out of 100, its lowest score in eight years, in 2019. The score system goes from 0 (very corrupt), to 100 (no corruption). The countries with the highest score is New Zealand and Denmark with a score of 87, and the countries with the lowest score is Syria, South Sudan, and Somalia, with 13, 12, and 9 points. “More than in any other major developed country, people in America believe that rich people buy elections,” said Scott Greytak, Advocacy Director for Transparency International’s U.S. office. “When people think their government is for sale, they stop believing in its future.” The laws to stop the corruption in the United States are over 50 years old and the United States hits its lowest in eight years is a sign that those laws need major reform.
Michel, Casey. “How the US Became the Center of Global Kleptocracy.” Vox, Vox, 3 Feb. 2020, www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/2/3/21100092/us-trump-kleptocracy-corruption-tax-havens.
Offshoring is a huge problem within the United States of America and leads to many different forms of corruption. One huge example of this is how anyone can buy Shell real estate anonymously and use it to smuggle weapons into foreign countries, launder money, and many other things. The laws regarding real estate have many loop holes that allow people to buy it without providing a name or any form of identification. Politicians have been aware of this for a long time but only in the last 2020 democratic primary have any nominees said anything about it. The offshoring has grown under the Tramp administrations, but Donald Trump had inherited “drowning in illicit funds, pilfered loot, and blood-soaked finances” from his predecessor and over all Trump has only continued the trend of past presidents when it comes to offshoring and dirty money. This article shows that the Trump family is not the soul family in politics that aren’t trying to fix this issue.
“Public Corruption and Civil Rights.” The United States Department of Justice, 10 Aug. 2017, www.justice.gov/usao-sdfl/public-corruption-and-civil-rights.
The Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section or PCCRS is the political organization that enforces federal laws on regarding anti corruption to protect the public from corrupt government officials in the United States of America. The types of cases that the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section get fall into three main categories. The first category is for basic forms of corruption such as bribery. It is used when a politician receives a curtain amount of money or wealth to do or not do something related to policy or governing. The second is for campaign finance, this focuses on how much money politicians receive from donations and also restricts the amount of money sent by one person or organization. It also records who gives money to who and posts on their site all the information for the public, the third is civil rights and when it comes to prosecuting officials or individuals for performing hate crimes and making sure everything is in the right.
Ahmed, Abbey Meller and Hauwa. “How Big Pharma Reaps Profits While Hurting Everyday Americans.” Center for American Progress, 30 Aug. 2019, www.americanprogress.org/issues/democracy/reports/2019/08/30/473911/big-pharma-reaps-profits-hurting-everyday-americans/.
This article talks about Big Pharma and how it increases its profits and benefits by directly hurting everyday American people while politicians sit back and either do nothing or encourage/help Big Pharma in its goals. This article talks about how Big Pharma receives substantial United States government assistance in funding research for medication and receives huge tax breaks along side while still charging huge prices for its medications. It is able to do this due to the monopoly pharmesutical companies have on the on the market due to their unethical, complete legal agreements on price gouging their medications. This article talks about how despite his initial thoughts on taking on the pharmesutical companies, Donal Trump continued the trends of past presidents when it comes to this topic. The companies also receive profits through patents which help extend their monopoly to specific items and allows them to sell these items at extremely high prices with no market competition.
Paulhus, Derek. “Waste, Greed, and Fraud: The Business That Makes the World’s Greatest Army.” The Institute of Politics at Harvard University, iop.harvard.edu/get-involved/harvard-political-review/waste-greed-and-fraud-business-makes-world%E2%80%99s-greatest-army.
Military spending in the United States is a system that leads to huge spending of the tax payers money into machines or resources that are full of waste, fraud and authoritative negligence. This article talks about the major problems rooted within the military industry’s system and how corruption in the political system plays a huge part in the money being dumped into the military. One of the main ways that the defense industry is able to push their system based on waste and fraud in politics is through lobbyists. Harvard Kennedy School lecturer Mark Fagan explains in this article how the defense industry pumps huge amounts of money into campaigns through donations in order to have that politicians ear when it comes to military spending. That is how so many politicians are for increasing military spending and love going to wars, but the over all population in America is generally anti war and military spending.
“Bribery in the Oil and Gas Industry.” National Whistleblower Center, 6 Jan. 2021, www.whistleblowers.org/bribery-in-the-oil-and-gas-industry/.
After the Watergate scandal, the U.S. Congress enacted the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in 1977 to prohibit individuals and businesses from bribing foreign officials in order to obtain business. This Act has become one of the largest anti corruption bills acts in the United States of America and has helped shed light on corruption happening in many market sectors. One of the largest markets that have been uncovered is the oil and gas industry. This article goes into detail on one of those instances called the The Panalpina Bribery Scandal. It talks about how Panalpina World Transport paid millions in bribes to foreign government officials on behalf of oil industry customers. Some of those customers are Royal Dutch Shell plc, Pride International, Inc., Tidewater Inc., Transocean, Inc., GlobalSantaFe Corp, and Noble Corporation. Then the article goes into detail on how the Act has been strengthened since, and what people have learned from this incident.
Geyman, John. “John Geyman on Profiteering Corruption and Fraud in US Health Care.” Corporate Crime Reporter, 12 June 2020, www.corporatecrimereporter.com/news/200/john-geyman-on-profiteering-corruption-and-fraud-in-us-health-care/.
“We have to ask ourselves and answer — who is the health care system for? The for profit health care corporations, their shareholders and Wall Street traders and investors?” This article talks about the corruption within the privatized healthcare industry and how employer based healthcare creates a bubble that easily burst by an economic collapse or pandemic such as covid-19. It then goes into detail talking about the history of healthcare reform and policy through the Clinton era all the way up to present day. It brings up Medicare for All and how if implemented the changes it could accomplish. “President Dwight Eisenhower warned about a military industrial complex. The same thing happened with health care — we got a medical industrial complex.” The fraud and corruption rooted within the healthcare system does not stop at price gauging but continues with construction and collapsing of hospitals to create monopoly like systems.
English, Nathan. “Private Prisons Fuel Corruption — Justice Policy Institute.” Justice Policy Institute, 17 Oct. 2019, www.justicepolicy.org/news/12744.
Privatized prisons’ goals are not to rehabilitate people in prison, but to make money off of peoples mistakes. In the end privatized prisons have a goal of making money. Because of this the system of privatized prisons is flawed from the very first level, rehabilitation of those in prison. A study shows that 83% of people who are send to private prisons will go back to prison within the next 9 years of leaving that prison. “The system isn’t working the way it should, and private prisons have a vested interest in not changing that statistic.” Private prisons are also bad for employees of the private prison. Works for private prisons earn $5,000 less than a worker in a public prison and receive 60 hours less training. “Their goal is to keep people in prison longer or to get more inmates to maximize profits.” This article shows how private prison are corrupted at the most basic level.
“Follow the Money: Private Prison Corruption.” RepresentUs, 4 June 2015, represent.us/action/private-prisons-2/.
Private prisons donation money through campaign funds to politicians who are likely to win so that they can get a seat at the table when it comes to creating laws. They have funneled more than $10 million directly to State Lawmakers since 1989. They also employ hundreds of private prison lobbyists at the state and federal level. Lobbyists effect the wield influence over legislators and put pressure on legislature to comply with what the private prisons want when it comes to legislature. “Over the years, these political strategies have allowed private prison companies to promote politics that lead to higher rates of incarceration and thus greater profit margins for their companies.” Private prisons do this to make sure the laws are in their favor when it comes to locking more people up which maximizes their profits. “Really think about that for a second. These companies are buying political influence to actually change criminal law — Not because it improves public safety, but because their entire profit model depends on it.”
Hiltzik, Michael. “Why Did NBC Reportedly Pay Chelsea Clinton $600,000 a Year?” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 16 June 2014, www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-why-did-nbc-pay-chelsea-clinton-20140616-column.html.
Corporate journalism has become irreversibly corrupt. Journalists working with in these news organizations focus less about what objectively or factually true and instead to shift their focus to pushing forward an agenda put in place by that organization. The journalists with in the organizations do this one because they are getting paid a huge amount of money to tell these stories through their corporate agenda and two because those who do struggle with it morally and speak up about it get kicked out and their career destroyed. The organizations selectively hire people who are willing to push forward their partisan agenda. And example of this is NBC hiring Chelsea Clinton and paying her $600,000 with no previous journalist or broadcasting experience just because they know she would push their agenda and also because they wanted to have Hillary Clinton’s ear when it came to creating legislature for corporations and its CEO’s.
After reading through all the articles shown above, the reader can find similarities to how corruption is done in each economic market, and sees the continual lack of care and sometimes encouragement done by the federal and state governments on corruption. The articles bring up reasons why the government promotes legislature that encourages companies to take part in corruption, the main reason is due to these companies involvement in the election process. Corporations and individual elites donate huge amount of money to most politicians campaigns so that when they are elected, they have that politicians ear when it comes to creating legislature and law. They are also able to have lobbyists with in the government to constantly be pushing for legislature that they like. They are able to do this through the donations they give out, donations that are bribery made legal through the first amendment’s, later addition, corporations free speech. These articles were enlightening in the process in which corruption is handled and how easy it is for people to get away with it in our current system.