You can read thousands of academic papers on the problem of “corruption” in countries around the world and completely miss the central point. The way to eliminate the corruption is to eliminate the barriers to enterprise. Why is this not obvious? Because many people imagine a utopian ideal that does not now and never has existed: good government. They imagine that government rules can be enforced impartially based on science or the public good.
It’s sheer nonsense. As Ludwig von Mises wrote in Human Action in 1966:
“Unfortunately, the office-holders and their staffs are not angelic. They learn very soon that their decisions mean for the businessmen either considerable losses or — sometimes — considerable gains. Certainly, there are also bureaucrats who do not take bribes, but there are others who are anxious to take advantage of any ‘safe’ opportunity of ‘sharing’ with those whom their decisions favor… Corruption is a regular effect of interventionism.”
(bold emphasis added)
That’s from Jeffrey A. Tucker at the Laissez Faire Books.