Petites corrupcions

Article publicat al Diari de Girona, el 7 de desembre de 2012
Ja deu fer un parell d'anys, quan es va destapar el cas Millet, en aquest mateix diari publicava un article d'opinió sobre la corrupció. Parlava d'un factor que en tots els casos es repeteix i que tenint-lo en compte es pot arribar a preveure aquest fenomen: el temps. Posava altres exemples del passat: l'afer Filesa, Malesa i Time-Export, amb el finançament il·legal del PSOE de Felipe González, i el de Santa Coloma de Gramenet amb Bartomeu Muñoz com a alcalde.

Deia que quan una persona arriba al govern d'una institució pública o d'una organització privada necessita un temps per aprendre com funciona i fer millores. Hi ha un moment que ja ho sap tot o quasi tot i ja ha fet tot el que venia a fer. És aquest instant el que s'ha d'evitar, quan aquesta o aquestes persones pensen en ells mateixos i no en els altres.

Feia referencia a Philip G. Zimbardo, psicòleg social nord-americà que explica en el seu llibre "El efecto Lúcifer" com el factor temps fa malvades les persones. Diu que el fet de viure en una situació de constant present, amb pressió, sense perspectives de futur i conscients d'ostentar el control indefinidament, fa que les persones, un cop assimilat el seu rol i les rutines associades, es comportin fent un mal ús del seu poder i corrompent les regles en el seu favor. Aquest és l'origen de la maldat. Malgrat no és l'esperit d'aquest article, en la corrupció hi ha maldat, com una forma de violència d'un pocs cap a la resta de la societat, saltant-se les regles en benefici propi, aprofitant-se de l'esforç dels altres, apropiant-se del que és públic, del bé comú.  
Però com es pot donar aquesta corrupció als ulls dels treballadors de l'administració? I el que és pitjor, com és que la gent afirma saber-ho i que no es faci res?



Doing diplomacy, 140 characters at a time

by Staff WritersParis (AFP) Oct 21, 2012

When Canada's ambassador to China posted photos of his car on the embassy's Twitter-like weibo page, the instant, mass response boosted his country's image in a way that surely stunned many diplomats.

Hundreds of Chinese netizens posted comments marvelling that the Canadian envoy at the time -- David Mulroney -- was driving a relatively inexpensive car compared to the luxury vehicles favoured by their own officials.

In just one click, Ottawa had managed to engage a wide audience in a debate about corruption and transparency, using one of China's hugely popular social networks.

"Digital tools -- including social media -- are being used by an increasing number of countries," said Antonio Deruda, author of "Diplomazia Digitale", a book on the topic.

"It is an important process that can be very useful for administrations... Through social media, the goal is to establish a dialogue with the foreign public."

Dubbed "21st century statecraft" by the United States, the use of digital tools to help achieve diplomatic goals is on the rise in a world where the web has changed how people engage with each other and higher authorities.

Washington is at the forefront of this trend -- led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was made painfully aware of the power of social media when she lost the Democratic nomination to a tech-savvy Barack Obama in 2008.

There are now around 300 State Department-affiliated Twitter accounts globally -- which include those run by ambassadors or embassies -- over 400 Facebook pages and 180 YouTube channels.

US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, for instance, has used the embassy's Facebook page to post declassified satellite images showing troop movements in civilian locations, in a propaganda tug of war with the Damascus regime.

The State Department has also organised Google+ Hangouts -- groupvideo chats -- to engage with people in Iran on issues such as sanctions and studying in the United States.

"One of the benefits of using these technologies is we're in places where we don't have a diplomatic presence on the ground," said Victoria Esser, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Digital Strategy at the State Department.

-- 'It's indispensable to engage with the world' --

Other countries have also got in on the act in a bid to improve their political clout, or attract foreign investment and tourists.

Widely regarded as a symbol of the modern Arab woman, for instance, Queen Rania is a key asset in Jordan's soft power push. With Twitter, she is an even more powerful force, with each post reaching over 2.3 million global followers.

"Queen Rania is followed not only by people interested in Middle East issues and political issues, but by people who are more interested in what she buys in shops or where she goes 
abroad," said Deruda.

"This is a key point for digital diplomacy -- the importance of reaching a broader audience, not just the same old people who usually follow foreign affairs."

As such, top diplomats are increasingly holding live, virtual chats on social networks to engage with people whom they would otherwise never meet.

British foreign secretary William Hague took this a step further earlier this month, meeting five of his 109,000 Twitter followers to discuss Somalia, Europe and other issues in an effort to bring online interaction offline.

But for all its immediacy and accessibility, social media is a minefield where a misplaced comment can generate a whirlwind of controversy as fast as it takes to type 140 characters -- the length limit for tweets.

Linda Sobeh Ali, the Palestinian representative to Canada, was recalled in October 2011 after she retweeted a video of a Palestinian girl reciting a poem that begins innocently enough, but later mentions "destroying Zionism".

Social networks have also been used as platforms for public fighting matches.

In May, US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul was severely rebuked on Twitter by Moscow about a speech he made on US-Russia ties.

Netizens watched with amusement as the Russian foreign ministry fired off nine consecutive tweets blasting McFaul, who was eventually forced to post a link to a blog post clarifying the message he had intended to get across.

Giuseppe Manzo, spokesman for Italy's social media-savvy foreign ministry, acknowledged the risks involved.

"The outreach you achieve with social media is much greater -- and thus the risks -- but we're still going through an adaptation process," he said.

"I believe it's indispensable to engage with the world out there... Why not exploit tools like social media networks to help us? That said, I believe traditional diplomacy remains key."

But Deruda said it was also crucial for governments to act on this engagement.

"If you start a conversation and I tell you what I think about your policies, or about your image, your leaders... and then I see you don't change anything, the dialogue is doomed to end," he said.

"This is a key point for the future of digital diplomacy."


Cascades and the Political blogosphere by Jeff Swift


FM VOL 16-12 DESEMBRE 2011

Despite the fact that political blogs seem to be just as dominated by elites as traditional journalism, networks of individuals play an essential role in spreading arguments in the political blogosphere. The hyperlinking economy of political blogs is powered by competition, elevation, and access. This economy values networks of individuals just as much as — if not more than — it values elite top–tier bloggers.

Jeff Swift is a Ph.D. student in the Communicaton, Rhetoric & Digital Media program at North Carolina State University.
E–mail: jswift8@gmail.com

Hollande in the footsteps of Obama?

Alongside the official website campaign, francoishollande.fr, the team of the socialist candidate for the French presidential election has just launched "toushollande", a website for mobilizing activists. The objective is to organizing door to door and convince at least 5 million people to vote for him. Through targeting of priority areas with high potential to mobilize 10,000 activists will be trained to recruit 150,000 volunteers to go and meet directly voters. it is also possible to forward content to Facebook friends, invite them to join the candidate Facebook page, or make a donation.

The strategy is directly inspired by the Obama campaign of 2008, which had shown that 14 abstainer met personally had moved to vote, 10,000 times more efficient than leaflets. The French socialist team is also accompanied by Blue State Digital, the agency headed by the Obama former online campaign director, Joe Rospars, who came to Paris himself. The Internet campaign of Francois Hollande has a budget of 2 M¼ and led by 35 people.


Why do small states have big governments?

Karen L. Remmer (2010).
Issue 01, March 2010 pp 49-71

Building on the literature on public finance, this article explores the consequences of political scale for government spending. The central argument is that the tendency for small political units to have big governments is not merely the result of economies of scale in the provision of public goods, but a reflection of the greater pressures for public spending faced by politicians in smaller and more homogeneous political units.

The importance of such political pressures relative to other influences on spending is assessed on the basis of subnational data by comparing the relationship between size and spending under democracy and dictatorship. To the extent that government expansion is driven by citizen demands, the impact of size on spending may be expected to be more pronounced under democratic than authoritarian governance.

Results from a time-series cross-sectional analysis of growth in government spending are consistent with this expectation. Government growth is shaped not only by the population size of political units but also by the interaction between regime and size. Analysis of spending patterns under democratic rule further indicates that size is an important determinant of spending even after controlling for variations in citizen preferences, political institutions, electoral competitiveness, and economic performance.

The results have important theoretical implications for the study of fiscal policy and democratic governance around the world because they suggest that political scale conditions the linkages between citizens and the state, creating widely varying incentives for government growth across differently sized political units.

small states; government size; political scale; government spending; fiscal policy