April 26, 2016

Reason Why Scandinavia is #1 in Press Freedom and Corruption Control

Finland recently won first place in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index prepared by Reporters Without Borders. The top four countries are Scandinavian. And Denmark was ranked first in a separate 2015 ranking regarding the mitigation of corruption, with Finland listed as second on that list.

Scandinavian countries rely on mechanisms for constant governmental accountability

Marie ChĂȘne, the Senior Research Coordinator at Transparency International, described what she believed was the underlying main means of achieving the high ethical performance of government and increased public trust In Scandinavia, stating that there is typically a, “strong transparency and accountability mechanism in place allowing citizens to monitor their politicians and hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

This Scandinavian strategy is diametrically opposed to the default position that the United States has come to adopt (Now sadly ranked 41 in press freedom). Denmark's “Anti-Corruption-Portal” highlights subtle as well as more overt violations: "prohibits active and passive bribery, abuse of public office, embezzlement, fraud, breach of trust", and their whistlblower protection and anonymity laws allow for more practical government accountability, however, whistleblowers and journalists in the U.S. are usually under attack and more likely to be the only ones going to jail, and harshly punished at that. And unethical conflicts of interest abound in U.S. corporate-political lobbying, the "passive bribery" forbidden in Scandinavia.

How Scandinavia's approach to corruption confirms a biblical precept

What is most intriguing about these highly-secularized and atheistic Scandinavian countries is that they are actually confirming a long-held biblical precept, that is, that humans basically have a corrupt and sinful nature that requires mechanisms of constant professional accountability. Though spiritual regeneration through Jesus Christ addresses this issue, the sin nature remains in this life.

The U.S. Founding Fathers had wisely planned and established a system of government with checks and balances, a "separation of powers," in order to curtail corruption. John Adams underscored how critical this was: "...the people are extremely addicted to corruption and venality, as well as the great. But I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe." (Letter to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776).

The present woeful non-transparent state of America

The U.S. Government presently gives lip service to accountability and transparency, while in practice denying the practical possibility of it occurring on a deeper level. When high-level negligence or corruption are apparent, and should be investigated, the oft-parroted line is that “national security is at stake” and the subject matter must be kept secret. The “State Secrets Protection Act” actually began with the fraudulent cover up of a lie (See declassified documents on United States v. Reynolds,345 U.S. 1, 1953).  Nevertheless, the State Secrets Privilege Act has been used since 2001 at an alarming rate in order to hide governmental mistakes and corruption. And the Department of Justice and the judicial branch in general have come to be viewed as corrupt and out of control with dominance over the executive and legislative branches. The problem of corruption and fear of retaliation were highlighted in the film documentary "Kill The Messenger" portraying how journalist Gary Webb was harassed by mainstream media and the C.I.A. for uncovering the C.I.A. support of the U.S. underground crack and cocaine trade. And there are a number of other examples, including Mark Livingston, a program manager with the TSA that told members of Congress, "If you tell the truth in TSA you will be targeted. I call it the Lord of the Flies —either attack or be attacked." Livingston went on to say, "I am concerned that TSA employees ...fear their supervisors more than they fear a potential terrorist threat."

The free press and investigative journalism are tools of accountability

Motherboard has described how grass-roots investigative journalism is revered and protected in countries like Finland. “But the real reason that Finland scores big is that its government has made transparency and information availability—essentially, good journalism—an institutional prerogative. The Finnish government has actually adopted the explicit goal of making sure its citizenry are well informed. According to the EPC, "basic guidelines" were established in 2007, wherein the “special focus is to promote the information society in everyday life, aiming towards a ubiquitous information society.” an impressive 90% of Finns believe their public sector is free of corruption.” While many Americans recognize that corruption is increasing in the U.S., people are generally obsessed with sports and reality TV shows and less interested in informative journalism, 
Press freedom and uncensored investigative journalism are effective tools of accountability, and the implication of Finland's support of high-quality investigative journalism is that a just, lawful and accountable government does not fear transparency and exposure, but welcomes it. While an unjust, lawless, and unaccountable government would oppose it. Hence, one has to wonder why the U.S. has come to spy constantly on its own people's private communications but attacks its whistleblowers and evokes “national security risks” when there is an apparent need to investigate government corruption. And one has to wonder why those that love the law and civil freedoms, known as Constitutionalists, are designated as “domestic terrorist suspects” by the government. Actually, a total of 72 types of Americans are considered "potential terrorists" in official government documents. This does not exactly engender public trust in the political establishment and is one of the reasons a political outsider, Donald Trump, has risen dramatically as a potential presidential candidate in the 2016 elections.

By Rick Warden

(revised 04-28-16)
Tags: list of least corrupt countries, most corrupt countries, why are countries more corrupt or less corrupt? Scandinavia system for reporting corruption, evidence of original sin and the sin nature, why do governments become corrupt, Scandinavian tops anti-corruption, Founding Fathers, corrupt sin nature, U.S. system of checks and balances, separation of powers, correlation of press freedom and reduced government corruption, investigative journalism curtails corruption, Scandinavia's  evidence of God and biblical truth

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