I have got to take a look at this.
Transparency International has just released its 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The CPI score indicates the perceived level of public-sector corruption in a country/territory, based on up to 13 surveys. You can read about the methodology here. (Why is the methodology important? Because it avoids the Internet Society of Puerto Rico syndrome of "Yanking Numbers Out of One's Ass.")
Who were the top finishers, the world leaders in confidence and low levels of corruption? The Top 10 are: New Zealand, Denmark, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Australia, Canada and Iceland. (The country's bankrupt, but honest.)
Uh, where did the U.S. of part of A. finish? 19th, after an England-Japan tie.
And Us? We're Number 35!
A few remarks: There's a good number of Nordic countries there in the Top 10, with extensive social welfare political structures, based on very high (50+%) taxation and highly-regulated economies. Does it mean these systems are better? Not really, as 5 of the other six (Singapore being the exception) are "open" democracies with less taxation, although as noted, Iceland is practically broke. (But they will eat healthier now.)
Here's the 2009 Top 10 in the Competitiveness Index: Switzerland, U.S., Singapore, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Canada and Netherlands. Notice that 7 of these are also in the Top 10 of the CPI list. You could say there's a higher correlation between lack of corruption and competitivenss than there is to political structure and competitiveness. Especially if you note that the three "Not Top 10" on the CPI list (Germany ranked 14th) are now-traditional powerhouse economies combining natural resources and industrialization to very high degrees, whereas the smaller economies are competitive largely because they are more transparent.
So the lesson for Us is: Transparency is a distinct, measurable and thus tangible competitive advantage. Let Me make it clear to the Fools in terms they can understand: Less corruption means more money for all of Us.
I just lost them. Big whoop.
Note that Puerto Rico only has 4 of the 13 surveys upon which to base the end result on. Why only 4? The other 9 didn't get a big enough bribe to fill in lies.
Or not. Just saying.
But in the wake of Manny Pacquiao's dismantling of Our Miguel Cotto, We can take up the cry of "We're Number 35! We're Number 35!" and take heart in the fact that We were tied for 36th last year.
The Jenius Has Spoken.