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Making the world flat-out against corruption

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That country’s new leader, Xi Jinping, warned last month that corruption could “kill the party and ruin the country.” Chosen by the Communist Party for his clean image, he is noted for saying “transparency is the best anticorrosive.” And indeed, the Internet in China is abuzz with tales of corrupt acts that the official media miss.

Within private organizations, about 5 percent of revenues are lost to fraud each year, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Worldwide, that amounts to a loss of more than $3.5 trillion.

It doesn’t take a strong morality for people to oppose corruption. They perceive it in shoddy bridges, reduced safety nets, or rising crime – a form of “dirty tax” usually hitting the poor. At some point, they no longer accept dishonesty as inevitable or as an intractable part of their culture. Mass movements rise up on the Web, usually led by civil society groups, and assert the need for clean governance.

In the last two years, the Group of Twenty has agreed on plans to suppress graft. In her travels, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has made a point of meeting with local activists fighting corruption to encourage them. More foreign aid from the West to developing nations is now tied to improved governance.

Is the world at a tipping point against corruption? The yearly index has yet to show it. But plenty of other indicators on the ground show humanity prefers openness and honesty in its official dealings.

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