The current FIFA scandal illustrates a human behaviour that allows criminal behaviour to succeed. By nature, people tend to ignore the misconduct of others if preventing or revealing it extracts a higher price than ignoring it. Undoubtedly, insiders and observers were aware of high-level corruption at the international football organization. However, most FIFA Congress members disregarded the behaviour and discouraged reform efforts because they gained from the status quo and were unprepared to trade advantage for discomfort.
The same behaviour of people is evident elsewhere. In our unitary system of government, with power — the ability to reward or punish — centralized in the first minister’s office, a corrupt administration has few restraints. When individuals report wrongdoing or take ethical stands — eight Health ministry victims, for example — the entire weight of government opposes them.
On the other hand, if the influential and privileged have no ethical standards and only care about depositing cheques drawn on the public purse, the rewards can be substantial. This blog offers numerous examples so I won’t repeat a list but, if I did, one name on the register would be Wally Oppal. The former judge, politician and inquiry commissioner is currently a lawyer, “strategic advisor” and political fixer. One of those roles has him appearing as radio CKNW’s legal analyst.
I almost suffered injury from falling off my chair when he said this on air earlier this week:
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If I were polite, I would say that Judge Wally was being disingenuous. He doesn’t think anyone involved in BC criminal prosecutions would conduct plea bargaining? Yet, he had a role in arranging the Basi Virk plea bargain and he was very much involved in the plea bargaining with Surrey killer Mukhtiar Panghali.
Wally Oppal is just another enabler, although he is wealthier than most, having grossed almost a million dollars from the Robert Pickton tragedies while collecting a six-figure public pension. Let’s imagine for a moment that Oppal had knowledge of inappropriate behaviour involving his Liberal patrons. Would gratifying political sinecures continue to be available if he spoke out?
In BC, there is a very well developed system of patronage that provides rewards to donors and others who please government politicians. In addition, the Liberal leadership has taken to negotiating in private for the award of massive direct subsidies and tax expenditures. They count on silence and support of Corus Radio, daily newspapers and fishwraps distributed throughout the hinterlands by publishers such as David Black and the ex-con David Radler. Christy Clark’s sponsors want citizenry who are poorly informed about politics to ensure corrupt incumbents and their favourites will not be sanctioned for deviant or dishonest behaviour.
Aung San Suu Kyi:
It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.
As I’ve noted previously, some political reporters have a habit of taking payments from groups affected by the coverage they provide. It’s a game of one hand washing another and it can be rewarding to both hands.
ADDENDUM REGARDING SPORT CORRUPTION
In 2009, I wrote Lying with dogs, rising with fleas and in 2010, More dogs, more fleas. There can be no surprise about corruption at FIFA and the IOC. Yet, the enablers will continue to enable criminal behaviour.