Monday, July 20, 2009

Bookbag: Edward Banfield's Here the People Rule

Banfield defends corruption in this footnote from "Corruption as a Feature of Governmental Organization":
The construction industry provides a case in point. New York City has a 843-page building code; a builder is required to get at least 40-50 permits and licenses — for a very large project as many as 130 — from a maze of city departments. "Each stage," John Darnton writes in the New York Times (13 July 1975, p. 5 sec. 4, col. 3), "is an invitation to a payoff. By withholding approval, or concentrating on a minor infraction, or simply not showing up at all, an inspector can cost a builder dearly or delay his recouping a multi-million-dollar investment."

In practice, the Knapp Commission found, "most builders don't bother to get all the permits required by law. Instead, they apply for a handful of the more important ones (often making payoff to personnel at the appropriate agency to insure prompt issuance of their permit). Payments to the police and inspectors from other departments ensure that builders won't be hounded for not having other permits" (New York City, Knapp Commission, p. 125).

Recently two-thirds of the construction inspectors in Manhattan were suspended without pay on bribery charges. None of the charges seems to have resulted from a builder's effort to get around the requirements of the building code. What was being bought and sold, an official said, was time.
Maybe conservatives do believe in victimless crimes?

No comments:

Post a Comment