We see so many problems around the globe. Experts are warning about massive inflation, we see forests burning. The ocean is full of plastic rubbish. The COVID-19 pandemic halted the world economy. The virus and the lockdown measures are costing millions of lives. What role does corruption play, and why is it our world’s most important problem? Which tools can be design to fight corruption once and for all?
I have never experienced such a depressive and pessimistic outlook onto the future as today. When I stumbled upon a tweet of Kim Dotcom, he summarized it accurately:
- Economists warn about a looming global economic depression
- Human rights groups warn about increasing levels of abuse
- Free speech groups warn about massive censorship
- Scientists warn about our planet dying
I agree. If we don’t pay close attention to where we are heading as a human species, there is a real possibility that our society as we know it will vanish (soon!).
The reason we find ourselves in such a miserable situation is because the current system doesn’t work. It is corrupt in every way imaginable. Politicians, oligarchs, and executives without skin in the game brought us where we are. No matter how green, socialist, conservative or progressive, electing different types of politicians will not help us. We have to create the solution ourselves.
To create solutions, we first need to understand what our world’s most important problem is. A problem which also acts as a root cause for one thousand thousand of other problems.
Let me get straight to the point. I am one hundred percent certain that corruption — in many forms and on many levels — is the root of all evil and misery we see in our world today. It is not only me. Kim Dotcom calls systemic corruption our problem #1. And — as we will see later in this text — the majority of our world agrees as well.
Even though this decade started in such an ugly way, people are becoming more aware than ever of the massive corruption taking place in our world and the increasing problems resulting of it.
This decade is a decade of possibility. A decade which requires all of us to change the existing status quo. We must aim for an ethical and exciting future. A peaceful future with direct democracy, justice, honesty and outright free speech. A future with economic prosperity for everyone. This will all be made possible by eradicating greed and corruption from our society.
The moral decay and rise in corruption was a major contributing factor explaining the decline of the Roman Empire. Hence, it is our absolute obligation to act — otherwise we’ll experience the same fate.
This article will look more closely at corruption as our world’s most important problem, and then talk about the spiritual and technological tools necessary to end corruption.
Corruption – Our World’s #1 Problem
Already the bible mentioned corruption as a sin:
And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.Bible, Exodus 23:8
What is corruption? Corruption is not only bribery. It is a wide range of unethical and oftentimes illegal behaviors. Corruption is wrong and improper behavior which is harming society.
Let’s say you travel from Copenhagen to Istanbul with a brand-new Porsche Panamera. On your route you will cross several borders. Andon Blagun, a border officer at the Bulgarian-Serbian border, is giving you subtle hints to pay him a small bribe of five Euro. You know exactly that, otherwise, Andon Blagun will sift through your entire car, which will cost you a painful amount of time. This is a form of small-scale or petty corruption.
Corruption is not limited to government officials. It also happens in small and medium-sized enterprises. For example: Günter Erich is head of sales for a well-known German manufacturer of electrical installation equipment. Günter Erich struck a deal with his independent resellers, paying them hidden kickback provisions the more products they sell. Günter Erich is also paying electricians, who install the most with of products, a yearly luxury cruise trip for the electrician and his family.
It occurs as well at the highest levels of cooperations. Gregory Carol is an executive of one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. He installed an entire division in his company called “Project Cubozoa” — named after box jellyfishes, which are absolute quite (and deadly) animals. 421 employees work for Project Cubozoa. They are involved in different activities such as spying on critics and government officials, funding favorable research, lobbying for drug approval, and filing all kinds of lawsuits. Hiding side effects of the latest vaccination is no big deal for Gegory Carol. He is quite flexible when it comes to ethics. He is more concerned of his big fat annual bonus and his appreciating stock options.
Oftentimes, corruption is so big, that it skips the legal system of one country entirely. Mukhammed Arman is direct advisor and attorney of the president of a country in Central Asia. The president, Mukhammed Arman and their inner circle control de facto everything in the country. They control the judicial branch, by appointing only judges which they know and bribe. They control who is admitted for the next presidential election. Which doesn’t mean anything at all because Mukhammed Arman is already set as a successor for the president.
Corruption is everywhere. This includes government officials who are misusing their power for personal gains or corporations who use lobby organizations using their power to influence policymaking with no regard to ethics at all.
Corruption is Everywhere
A 2013 study from WIN/Gallup International involving 66,806 persons representing 77% of the global population in 65 countries identified corruption as the “world’s most important problem”.
We should not sugarcoat corruption as a problem of the developing world. According to the latest report of Transparency International, two-thirds of all countries are very corrupt. Even in countries with high scores on the Corruption Perception Index 2020 (Denmark, New Zealand, Netherlands, Germany, …) corruption exists but is professionally hidden.
In a 2015 poll from GALLUP, “75% in U.S. see widespread government corruption”, up from 66% in 2009. Looking to Portugal, this number is 86%, in Spain 84%, in the U.K. 46%, and in Germany 38%. In some countries like Russia or India, corruption is obvious. In other countries, like the U.S. or UK, we all know it exists, but we pretend it does not. Then there are countries like Germany or New Zealand in which corruption is also existent and a major problem but professionally hidden and concealed.
Let’s be clear. Corruption exists in every country of our world and thus affects every person on earth. Some countries and some cultures are more corrupt than others, but the problem remains.
People are becoming more and more aware of all the serious negative effects corruption is having on their lives. While citizens demand change from their leaders, Transparency International states in their latest report, that most countries made little or no progress in the fight against corruption in the past years.
Why is corruption a problem?
Corruption is a completely unethical behavior. People — like Andon Blagun, Günter Erich, Gregory Carol and Mukhammed Arman — abuse their power for their private gain. This leads to problems in several ways.
In the society, corruption increases divisions and inequality between citizens, which in turn increases poverty levels and thus leads to e.g. poorer health of people. Political corruption on a state level lowers the sense of security. If reported crimes are not properly prosecuted, this will lead to even higher crime rates and so on.
Lobby organization influencing corrupt politicians can lead to disastrous environmental, economical and medical problems. Par example, a region in South America is building a dam and Marcelo Quintino, a local politician, turns a blind eye to the construction, as well as Hans-Peter Alois, who is working as a dam inspector for TÜV East. Both suddenly and miraculously drive a new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, by the way. Suddenly, the dam breaks and hundreds of people die — as seen in 2019.
Corruption in Volkswagen led to the emissions’ scandal — this then led to massive health and environmental problems: from premature death or heart problems due to pollution or acid rain in the environment due to ozone pollution.
A Transparency International report from 2012 came to the conclusion that corruption was a significant factor in the emergence of the Eurozone crisis. It identified “serious deficits in public sector accountability and deep-rooted problems of inefficiency, malpractice and corruption, which are neither sufficiently controlled nor sanctioned”. The result: millions of people losing their jobs, etcetera.
Similarly, in the current COVID-19 crisis, we see corrupt politicians taking the advice from corrupt advisors, signing highly criminal COVID-19 vaccination contracts with big pharma, while effective treatments, i.e., Ivermectin are banned to even talk about.
No matter what problem you look at: vaccination scandals, deforestation, hunger crisis, hyperinflation, etc., there is always a link to some kind of corruption on a political and/or corporate level (or socialism and communism which may arguably be the result of unethical corrupt behavior).
As we can see today, solving corruption is not only about legal aspects. Creating a fair legal framework is crucial. But the key lies in achieving spirituality and also a high level of morality among humankind by agreeing on universal ethical and moral rules. And secondly, providing people with tools to report and prosecute every kind of corruption globally.
Before one can solve a problem, we must understand what the root cause is.
If we list all corruption cases and problems resulting out of corruption, there is one question which remains: Who is responsible? Who is to blame? Is it the corrupt politician? The greedy oligarch? The fainéant citizen?
The nitpicking of corruption cases and corrupt people (which I did with Günter Erich and Marcelo Quintino) is pointless. We have to look deeper for the root problem.
We have to put it as it is: Corruption is an extremely selfish act. But instead of blaming the individual, we have to recognize that human nature is not perfect itself. Our history is full of examples of our dark side of human nature: greed, narcissism, aggression, you name it. We humans are not acting rationally out of love and altruism all the time. To negate human nature and pretend unholy tendencies do not exist would be hypocritical.
But are we really helplessly at the mercy of our nature? No.
Killing the Ego
Practiced spirituality shows us that we are more than our body. More than our primal urges. More than our ego. Mindfulness and meditation can kill our ego.
What until recently seemed like hocus-pocus for some is becoming scientifically validated reality. A Harvard study showed that practicing meditation makes the gray matter responsible for self-awareness and compassion grow, while shrinking the areas of stress. Robert Wright wrote an entire fascinating book called “Why Buddhism Is True” in which he shows with scientific studies the astonishing effects mindfulness meditation has on us.
Mindfulness meditation and other spiritual practices like breathing techniques move us beyond our body and beyond our ego. We develop compassion for other people. Compassion for other human beings, no matter their racial, cultural, and religious differences.
People like Wim Hof, Joe Dispenza, Sadhguru, Eckhart Tolle, and even Russel Brand, … are rising in popularity and making spirituality accessible. These are all fantastic people who are doing a fantastic job on raising our common consciousness and promoting spirituality and mindfulness. We should listen to them and support them because killing the ego is crucial for an uncorrupted world.
Establishing a universal spirituality among humanity is the key to end corruption and then end evil on earth. The tools and teachers are out there. Let us use and promote them.
Besides that, we should also study philosophies such as stoicism or re-interpret religions, which will provide us not only with spirituality but with the necessary moral compass.
Let’s be clear: Meditation, love, and prayer won’t solve our problems on its own. That is why our ancestors have designed different moral and ethical rules which we can find in Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and other religions as well as different philosophies such as Stoicism or Taoism.
The ten commandments — for example — are at the core of Christianity and Juddaism (as well as the Islam). It delivers ethical rules such as: “Thou shalt not covet”. Buddhism delivers key ethical rules in the five main precepts. Stoicism for examples hands us the Golden Rule.
Do what you would praise others for doing.
Avoid doing what you would criticize others for doing.
Moral and ethical rules have existed for and evolved over tens of thousands of years. It is therefore fair to say that religions and philosophies gave us a solid moral compass which — fortunately — works for the majority of people. Problems evolve when not everyone obeys them.
Defining Universal Rules
Moral and ethical rules work universally across different cultures and religions. These rules have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. According to the Lindy effect, they will last for another hundreds of thousands of more years — or likely forever. Thus, it makes no sense to reinvent new rules but to reformulate them in a universal, modern and comprehensible way so that everyone understands and honors them. Making these rules universal and enforceable will unite all humans of the world.
It is important to note that these rules are more important than religion and more important than the local law. The law is sometimes ignoring or punishing those who are acting righteously, while favoring those who are acting corrupt. Other times the law is exploited by those who find loopholes in it. You might for example argue that the judicial system in India is protecting those who are corrupt by making the life of those who are honest pretty difficult.
It is crucial to define universal moral rules, which we all agree upon.
People with moral and ethical standards are fed up with corruption and the numerous problems arising from it. The good news is: We are at a unique moment in time. We have the technology at hand to build decentralized anti-corruption tools as well as “network states” in which the universal rules building the basis for living together. Developing and using these tools will bring people from every country of our world together in the ultimate fight for fairness to the fight to end corruption.
Asking the Right Questions
Having identified corruption as the number one problem, we must ask ourselves the right questions to be able to solve it. These questions — I believe — are:
- What is the root problem of corruption?
- Why has there been made no progress in fighting corruption?
- How can we create a decentralized technology to successfully fight corruption on a massive scale?
- How can we incentivize and de-risk the reporting of corruption (the risk of becoming a whistleblower)?
- How can we successfully financially out compete and prosecute the largest lobby organizations?
- How can we bring massive awareness to corruption on every level?
Designing the Tools
To solve corruption, we must find answers to exactly these questions and then design and build technological tools based upon them. The following are preliminary ideas of mine, which shall be elaborated and built upon.
Before we continue, let’s step back to the cause of corruption: Corruption is a result of multiple circumstances, such as low moral and ethical standards, poverty, greed, low levels of democracy, low or no transparency, bureaucracy, social acceptance, low risk of prosecution, lack of spirituality, …
According to Robert Klitgaard, corruption takes place when:
Corrupt gain > Penalty × Likelihood of being caught and prosecuted
As a result, to fight corruption, the gain an individual has of reporting corruption (financially and socially) must be higher than the financial gain of himself partaking in corruption:
Gain of reporting corruption >> Gain by partaking in corruption
This can be achieved by:
- Drastically raising the likelihood of being caught and prosecuted
- Drastically raising the likelihood of being publicly and socially ashamed
- Eliminating and minimizing the risk of reporting corruption
- Eliminating and minimizing the bureaucracy of reporting corruption
- Rewarding and protecting whistleblowers
This leads us to important features of a potential anti-corruption technology:
- Straightforward, simple and anonymous reporting of corruption of any kind by everyone on earth (as easy as uploading a photo to Instagram)
- Transparent platform where all legitimate reports are publicly accessible and stored on a public blockchain (as simple as browsing a Twitter feed)
- Incentivization, reward, and reimbursement system for whistleblowers and journalists for reporting and flagging corrupt behavior (as crypto rewards)
As this may be too abstract for some, let me give you an example of corruption in the government or a corporation:
- Zak Milburn, a public employee, witnesses high-grade corruption in the government (or a corporation or lobbying organization)
- Zak opens the Transparency Platform app and gets an immediate estimate of a crypto reward for making the corruption case public
- He collects and uploads a report and all evidence to a decentralized blockchain ledger.
- Zak Milburn is immediately rewarded with a crypto-incentivization-reward of 0.2 ₿
- In a second phase, the peer-to-peer network is voting in a transparent voting system the legitimacy and impact of the report. If the report is legitimate, the submitter gets a reward depending on the impact of the corruption case (the more risk the submitter is taking, the higher the reward)
- Shall the whistleblower Zak Milburn lose his job or decide to quit his job, the network provides him with a guaranteed basic income for a defined period of time
- Shall the government decide to prosecute Zak Milburn, the network will provide unlimited legal and monetary resources to defend the whistleblower
- The network records the corruption case and all involved individuals in a blockchain, it then publishes the corruption case on a transparency platform which can be spread easily across social media and in the media
- Most importantly: The network is funding internationally independent law offices to prosecute against all involved individuals — the aim is that the network has unlimited funding resources so that even the largest lobbying organizations cannot compete financially and legally
To be continued.
This article and all ideas outlined are a work in progress. I believe with all of my heart that solving corruption is the MOST IMPORTANT PROBLEM ANYONE CAN WORK ON. We do now have blockchain technology available. Let us use it to create tools that end corruption and with it the majority of problems in our world. Wars, climate change, environmental destruction, hyperinflation, pharma scandals, … you name it.
Let’s work together! Let us found a closed group of talented individuals with high integrity and high ethics. In this group we can brainstorm, elaborate and work out a full concept of how a decentralized transparency and anti corruption network/platform can look like and work. We can build a MVP based on a niche corruption case and launch it as soon as possible. The technology can then slowly be expanded until a working anti-corruption platform is established.
If you are interested, please contact me (immediately).