When everybody knows where everybody else’s bodies are buried, setting forth in search of wrong- doing with an ornamental teaspoon arguably makes more sense than marching off with a spade.
### stuff.co.nz Last updated 09:01 26/02/2013
Corruption exists by the shovel load
By Chris Trotter – The Press
OPINION: A group of wealthy ranchers and industrialists importunes the man most likely to lead their party to the White House. He hears them out politely, takes a contemplative sip from his glass of whiskey, and replies: “Boys, I’d like to help. But, like every man, I have my price. If you want me to run, it’ll cost you a well-watered ranch in prime cattle country.” The party big-wigs exchange glances and nods. Their spokesman rises from his big leather chair, extends his hand towards the beaming candidate, and exclaims: “Done!”
Now who would you say this politician was? A Texan, surely? Lyndon Baines Johnson? George W Bush? Some corrupt citizen of the Lone Star State where elections were regularly franchised out to party bosses who, when it came to vote-rigging, only ever had one question: “Do you want us to count ’em, or vote ’em?” (Meaning: Do you want us to stuff the ballot boxes, or merely round up the required number of bribed and/or intimidated electors?)
Well, to be honest, this story isn’t about Texan – or even American – politics. I only used words like “ranchers” and “White House” so that you’d have no difficulty in recognising all the behind-the-scenes deal-making for what it was: political corruption.
Had I told you from the beginning that we were talking about New Zealand farmers and businessmen, and that the politician negotiating the price of his co-operation was the future National Party Prime Minister, Keith Holyoake, then you would already be objecting: “So what? That’s not corruption. It’s not illegal to buy somebody a farm!”
I remember my old editor at The Independent Business Weekly, Warren Berryman, shaking his head in wonderment when, once again, some international outfit declared New Zealand to be the least corrupt country on Earth. Warren was born in the United States and had lived what might, euphemistically, be called “a colourful life”.
“This is one of the most corrupt countries I’ve ever lived in”, he told me. “It’s everywhere you look – but you Kiwis just don’t see it. New Zealand tops all these surveys not because it’s corruption-free, but because New Zealanders have become experts at looking at corruption and calling it something else.”
How much longer, I wonder, is the rest of the world going to be hoodwinked by Kiwis’ perverse willingness to substitute an ornamental teaspoon for a spade?
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr