5 Myths about kleptocracy (using political power to steal a country’s resources)
Myth No. 1
Kleptocracies exist mostly in the developing world.
The word “kleptocracy” often conjures Cold War imagery of despotic tyrants in poor, faraway places. And it is true that many of the world’s most corrupt countries are in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Myth No. 2
Kleptocracies are strong.
Today, some of the most powerful countries in the world are kleptocracies. Russia, for example, currently seems to be dictating global affairs. China, another classic, is the second-largest economy in the world.
Myth No. 3
The United States is already a kleptocracy.
“We’re living in a kleptocracy,” Salon claimed in 2015 . “America robs from its poor — while its infrastructure crumbles.” According to a 2015 Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans believed corruption to be widespread in their government, a sentiment Donald Trump capitalized on with his promise to “drain the swamp.”
Myth No. 4
American institutions will shield us from kleptocracy.
In the wake of Trump’s election, major news outlets ran pieces on what U.S. institutions could do to protect the country from collapse. Vox told readers, “It’s now on America’s institutions — and the Republican Party — to check Donald Trump.” Slate argued that professional bureaucrats could slow Trump’s progress. Writing in the New York Times, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt reassured that “no democracy as rich or as established as America’s ever has” collapsed (though they said there’s reason to worry).
Myth No. 5
Donald Trump is setting himself up to rule as a kleptocrat.
Alarm bells on this subject began ringing soon after Trump was elected. The Washington Post’s Plum Line blog warned of “the coming Trump kleptocracy.” New York magazine wrote that “Trump’s kleptocracy is so astounding it already feels like old news.”
There are reasons for concern. Trump’s personality-based populism, his refusal to release his tax returns or place his assets in a blind trust, the prominent roles played by his family during the transition, financial ties between some members of his inner circle and Russia, and his own stance toward the Kremlin have all raised questions about how he intends to conduct himself in office.
Thanks to the Washington Post