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To Reduce Corruption, Just Put “Foreign Officials” On Scales


As long as there has been corruption (that would be quite a while), well-intentioned societies and individuals have sought ways to reduce corruption as well as measure corruption.

It turns out, there is a fool-proof way to measure corruption and expose its occurrence.

As highlighted in this article:

“In today’s age of expense scandals and hidden bank accounts, a medieval custom of weighing elected officials in public may have new cachet. The annual weigh-in, seen as a metaphor for politicians’ misuse of public funds and a mechanism for accountability, persists in High Wycombe, a large town outside London otherwise known for making furniture.

To residents hundreds of years ago, proof was literally in the pudding: A widening of the waistline was jeered as a sign that an official had grown fat at taxpayers’ expense. Shrinking girth was applauded as a sign of responsibility and abstemiousness, suggesting that a leader had been working hard on the people’s behalf. Each May, the mayor and other town officials are seated on brass scales in the middle of the town square. Alongside them is the macebearer, who carries a huge gilded club topped with a crown.

The weigh-in is preceded by a “tolling out” ceremony involving bell ringing that originated in 1678 when residents, irate at their drunken mayor, stripped him of his authority. According to records, “in token thereof it was ordered that the great bell should be rung out in testimony of his misdemeanours.”

At the weigh-in, for those who have gained from the previous year, the macebearer shouts “and some more!” which in the old days led to the crowd flinging rotten fruit at the profligate officials. Those who lost weight are rewarded by the macebearer’s “and no more!” — and by the crowd’s inevitable cheers.”

Happy April Fools’ Day from FCPA Professor.

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