Thursday, April 17, 2014

Patterns of Bureaucratic Corruption

I'm game if there's a position open on a team somewhere that specializes in bureaucratic behavior analysis, looking for the odd balance of procedures and benefits that lead to identifying criminals shielded by organizational subterfuge. A little more challenging than having an email land in your lap blatantly stating "It's time for traffic problems in Fort Lee."

This inspiration came to me in the form of a petition by MoveOn.org which seeks to deny a former Illinois State Trooper, reinstatement of his drivers license. I was immediately reminded of the scandal that resulted in the conviction of former Illinois Governor George Ryan whose political campaign coffers were filled with bribes paid by unqualified truck drivers in exchange for drivers licenses. This scandal came to light following a deadly crash.

The leniency of justice in Illinois is astounding. The history of corruption in Illinois runs so long and deep it has become tacitly acceptable, and even necessary for survival in a career in the Illinois public sector.

Once upon a time the fourth estate (the news media) was there to publicly humiliate corruption in government. Punishment-avoidance behavior by state officials worked well for generations, but in Illinois, the humiliation of being exposed as corrupt seems like a badge of honor anymore, like an old scar from a knife fight. The public has become numb to the incessant scandals reported. In psychology it's known as "Exctinction."

What may be attributed to Groupthink, the extinction of punishment-avoidance behavior on a cultural level is caused by the total absence of justice that in previous times immediately followed public humiliation.

The public assumes that justice still exists because the media coverage implies that it does, enabling diffusion of responsibility on such a massive scale that nothing gets done.. In reality there is nothing that follows but endless yammering of pundits on news programs, speculating endlessly about what they did and how they got away with it, but the discussion goes no further.

Getting away with it is only temporary, and the standoff with Clive Bundy is a symptom of the stress levels building up everywhere. People from all over are under so much pressure they will jump at any cause that will provide an outlet, no matter how illegal it may be. They are getting so fed up that they will take what they perceive as justice for themselves.
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