Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Higher the Salary – The Higher the Bribe

Does Increasing Salaries Reduce Corruption...? 

Or – Does Increasing Salaries Increase Corruption...?

Sometime ago – on TV – I saw a politician justifying a huge salary hike for politicians.

He gave the justification that giving high salaries will reduce corruption and make politicians honest. 

Do you believe that increasing salaries of politicians will make them honest...? 

A similar argument is made for government employees as well.

It is argued that individuals are corrupt because they get low salaries – and  if salaries are increased – Hey Presto – corrupt persons will instantly turn honest – and corruption will reduce to zero.

Well – all this reminded me of my blog post based on an article on Ethics I had written 21 years ago on 1995.

Musings on Ethics

Someone asked me: 

“Will increasing salaries of government employees reduce corruption...?”

In response  I said to him: 

“If you increase salaries  it will not reduce corruption  but the size of the bribe will increase...”

The honesty and integrity of a person is in no way correlated with material status.

Government Employees are paid enough salaries to live a decent standard of living.

Once a person is corrupt by nature – the dictum is

The Higher the Salary  The Higher the Bribe

This has been the experience  as can be seen by the number of rich politicians and top bureaucrats involved in scams. 

Do they turn scrupulously honest when they are paid more salaries and when they get rich...?

Or – do they become even more corrupt and start indulging in bigger scams...? 

For Government Employees – Salaries are increased substantially in every Pay Commission (CPC). 

Has corruption gone down after every Pay Commission...? 

Or – has corruption gone up over the years despite increase in salaries...?

Moral Values have got nothing to do with the amount you earn... 

This conversation reminded me of an article I had written on PRACTICAL ETHICS 21 years ago in 1995 (based on my lecture notes when I taught BUSINESS ETHICS and my papers on ETHICS presented by me at various seminars) and posted on my blogs a number of times – in various posts and articles.

Here is an extract from the article. 


When I joined the Navy  many of us confused Rank, Position and Status with Ethical and Moral Standards.

We young officers were naive and idealistic.

We assumed that just because an officer had been promoted to high rank  it could be ipso facto presumed that he had high moral values and ethical standards.

We were wrong in presuming this.

Soon  after seeing media reports about a number of senior military officers embroiled in scams  and observing some of our seniors indulging in unethical activities  we realized that our presumption  linking ethics with rank  was wrong  and  status and position should not be confused with standards of morality.

This is true in the civilian world as well.

The honesty and integrity of a person is in no way correlated with his intellectual development  or his position in the hierarchy  or material factors like wealth, rank, seniority, status, success. 

Almost every day we see news about high ranking politicians, bureaucrats, military officers and other “distinguished persons with high status, and in top positions, getting embroiled in Scams and indulging in unethical activities.

Have you not read news about even the most intellectually gifted persons (like Vice Chancellors of Universities) getting embroiled in corrupt activities? 

A quote by Alexander Orlov sums it up in a nutshell:

“Honesty and Loyalty may be often more deeply ingrained in the make-up of simple and humble people than in men of high position. 

A man who was taking bribes when he was a constable does not turn honest when he becomes the Chief of Police – the only thing that changes is the size of the bribe. 

Weakness of character and inability to withstand temptation remains with the man no matter how high he climbs.” 

It is true  isnt it? 

A persons Values and Ethical traits accompany a man to the highest rungs of his career.

You see so many poor persons who are honest  and you observe so many rich persons who are corrupt

This is because  whether a person becomes corrupt or not depends on his values – and not on his needs.

Also  in today’s world  corruption has no social stigma
A rich and wealthy corrupt man gets more respect in society than a poor man who is honest.
That is why you must not confuse status and position with standards of morality and ethics.
An individual’s outward status has got nothing to do with his inner values.
So – increasing salaries may result in the opposite of the desired objective of reducing corruption – and – may result in increasing corruption – as exemplified by the dictum: 
The Higher the Salary  The Higher the Bribe” 
Dear Reader: Do you agree...? 

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