Sunday, September 17, 2006

Even though a lot of my friends would say I'm a complainer, and that I criticize an awful lot, I still have this perhaps silly belief in progress, and that things will get better over time. Where does this come from? Well, I think I can say with relative assurance that it comes from my being American, ....think about it. Americans just think that we are moving forward, don't we? Like pilgrims and later, less protestant immigrants picking themselves up to achieve better lives for themselves and their ungrateful children.

Anyway, I am just prefacing what I found when I was looking at the indicators they use at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and especially the one on measuring corruption. Now, I have some problems with the religious status that the TI instrument holds, at least in the media, so I'm interested in how this more complicated World Bank Institute instrument works. Not having succeeded yet with that, (due to my current short attention span on account of the fact that my toes are throbbing because my boyfriend stopped his bike right in front of mine on the bike path and my foot just slammed into I am not really up to the task right now--maybe I broke a toe? ), I looked as we all do at the executive summary and was sad to learn that:

While we find that the quality of governance in a number of countries has changed significantly (in both directions), we also provide evidence suggesting that there are no trends, for better or worse, in global averages of governance.
This makes me wonder when they started measuring these things and if it's kind of like saying 'it's the hottest day in whatever city ..ever' because of course you haven't been measuring forever. For most places, we've only been recording temperature for the last hundred years or so, and much much less time for corruption and governance quality. And certainly, we only started measuring corruption and governance after it was understood how important these factors were and anti-corruption programs had already been launched all over the place. Is it a chicken egg question? And what are the forces that keep the level of corruption, on average, generally stable, despite all the efforts to fight it?

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