Free Enterprise - Principle 15

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Principle 15: Corruption in business and politics wastes money and produces unqualified leaders.

coins fall from bag down the drain

Corruption and bribes go hand in hand! Because of corrupt leaders in business, people are forced to pay more than the actual costs involved in making an item—we are forced to put bribe money into someone’s pocket! To get the goods ordered from overseas, you have to pay a bribe to the man at the port before he will let you have them. Then the policeman stops you on a false charge, and you have to pay him a bribe before he will let you pass.

The drawing shows how it is! Corruption is just money down the drain! The bribes you paid have raised your costs and you will have to pass them on to your buyers. When you have your assembled product ready to sell, the government requires you to have a safety inspection. When the inspector comes he demands an extra fee for his pocket (a bribe) before he will give you the official stamp of approval. More costs to pass on.

Some people covet jobs that will allow them to collect the illegal bribes. It is unfair. It adds cost to everything. And the poor simply can’t afford the bribes. In a bribe infested economy, lying and secrecy become common place. Business is done in secret, not in the open. Favoritism abounds—secret deals rule the day. Often people of real merit, who can’t or won’t pay bribes, don’t rise to the top and society looses their leadership ability.

It is the same in politics. The person who will pay the biggest bribe, or who is a good friend of someone important, gets the big salary government job. This means secret bribe money, not talent and dedication, will be running the country. When greed is the motivation, corruption will rule. Society will be run poorly and peoples’ needs will be ignored. Corruption in business and politics makes society sick.


By the next morning, with the tools and materials pile still smoldering, some of the anger had died down. Kovrich and David agreed to help Marcella and Sabetha see if they could help the warring sides come to peace.

The girls simply went and stood in the center of the clearing. It was where the valley was used to meeting.

“Please come hear us.” They called out a few time. Then they started singing. They kept on singing. Slowly at first, then more rapidly, most of the warring kids gathered around them. Some joined in the singing, others were quiet.

After a while the singing was finished.

In a firm and clear voice, Sabetha said, “This war has to stop!”

Then Kovrich, with David at his side, came forward and said, “Take a look around! This war has cost us big time! Kids are hurt who can’t work for several days now. Materials carefully prepared have been destroyed. People who used to be friends are mad at each other—and emotional wounds can take a long time to heal.”

Allen asked in a loud voice, “How many think this war was worth what it cost us—raise your hand?”

There was only silence … they all seemed to get the point: war drains away valuable human and material resources. Not a hand was raised.

Allen continued, “If we get attacked by outsiders, okay, then we go to war. We will defend our valley and our homes. But this war was silly! We could have worked out our differences. Unless we are defending our lives, lands and homes, we can avoid the costly drain of war. Peace and stability is much better for our economy, and way of life.”

Then Marcella took over. “Another big drain is corruption. I bet you all remember the corrupt politicians back home.”

“And the corrupt businessmen too!” someone shouted out.

David said. “We don’t want that here. I have seen it starting to happen right here in our valley. Stop it! Stop with the bribes—they just run up the cost on everything. If Allen and Andre are forced to pay bribes, they will just have to pass that cost on to you. Your huts will cost more because of the bribes.”

Sabetha chimed in. “Corruption is just not fair. When we play by the rules, we all have an equal chance, whether it is about a good price for a hut or about getting a leadership position in our valley government. We will have lousy government if we let thugs run things.”

“She is right,” Kovrich said. “Being a mean thug who operates by bribe is NOT a qualification for being a good leader—in business or in politics! Corruption makes society sick.”

Calmness settled over the kids. The recent experience had taught them a valuable lesson. They got it! Operating fairly in open and honest ways would lead to a better quality life for everyone.

“It’s been rough, all that we’ve gone through,” Sabetha said to Andre. “But with this war over, I hope we can start fresh. We have a chance now to really do things right. I think this could work out good for all of us.”

“I hope you are right,” Andre said. “And who knows, by some miracle, one of these days we may be found and go back to live in our home town.”

Activity: Tell the students that you are going to involve the class in a game. Tell them, pretend that you are supported, by un-named people of big importance, to offer the Prime Minister position to the highest bidder. Have them search their pockets, wallets and purses to see how much money each individual can come up with!

When it is determined who has the most money, take their money (to be given back of course) and announce to the class that so and so is the new Prime Minister. Make up false information about his/her qualifications because of training and experience.

Then tell the class it is 6 months later and there is a serious crisis in the banking system—credit is being denied to the entrepreneurs who won’t pay bribes! Business is slowing down and unemployment is rising! There is also a neighboring country threatening to invade because thugs from the Prime Minister’s country are dealing drugs, making trouble, and then escaping back across the border.

Lead the class in discussing likely outcomes of both the banking and possible invasion situations. Help them to see that the Prime Minister is unqualified and the country will suffer because of that. He has appointed his friends to high positions. Are they likely to be qualified?

Corruption in politics and in business makes society sick.

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