The Situationist

Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Situationist Corruption

Posted by The Situationist Staff on September 14, 2010

Molly J. Walker Wilson recently posted her article, “Behavioral Decision Theory and Implications for the Supreme Court’s Campaign Finance Jurisprudence” (Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 31, p. 679, 2010) on SSRN.  Here’s the abstract.

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America stands at a moment in history when advances in the understanding of human decision-making are increasing the strategic efficacy of political strategy. As campaign spending for the presidential race reaches hundreds of millions of dollars, the potential for harnessing the power of psychological tactics becomes considerable. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has characterized campaign money as “speech” and has required evidence of corruption or the appearance of corruption in order to uphold restrictions on campaign expenditures. Ultimately, the Court has rejected virtually all restrictions on campaign spending on the ground that expenditures, unlike contributions, do not contribute to corruption or the appearance of corruption. However, behavioral decision research and theory provide strong support for the notion that expenditures do corrupt the political process, because there is a nexus between campaign spending, strategic manipulation, and sub-optimal voting decisions. This Article applies behavioral research and theory to advance a new definition of “corruption,” arguing that there is a vital governmental interest in regulating campaign expenditures in order to limit manipulative campaign tactics and to reduce the existing inequities in access to channels of communication and persuasion.

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You can download the entire article for free here.  For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “The Situation of Corruption,” Larry Lessig’s Situationism,” The Situation of Swift-Boating,” “Deep Capture – Part VII,” “The Situation of Earmarks,” “The Deeply Captured Situation of the Economic Crisis,” and “Our Stake in Corporate Behavior.”

Posted in Abstracts, Behavioral Economics, Deep Capture, Law, Politics | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

De-Capturing the FDA

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 19, 2010

Harvard Law Student, Jason Iuliano, recently posted his forthcoming article, “Killing Us Sweetly: How to Take Industry Out of the FDA” (forthcoming Journal of Food Law and Policy) on SSRN.  Here’s the abstract.

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For more than a century, the Food and Drug Administration has purported to protect the public health. During that time, it has actually been placing corporate profits above consumer safety. Nowhere is this corruption more evident than in the approval of artificial sweeteners. FDA leaders’ close ties to the very industry they were supposed to be regulating present a startling picture. Ignoring warnings from both independent scientists and their own review panels, FDA decision makers let greed guide their actions. They approved carcinogenic sweeteners such as saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose while simultaneously banning the natural herb stevia because it would cut into industry profits. This Article proposes two reforms that can end these corrupt practices and take industry out of the FDA. By strengthening conflict of interest regulations and preventing companies from participating in safety trials, the FDA will be able to gain independence from corporate control.

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To download the paper for free, click here.

To review a sample of related Situationist posts, see “The Deeply Captured Situation of the Economic Crisis,” Our Stake in Corporate Behavior,” The Policy Situation of Obesity,” The Situation of Food: The Movie,”Our Situation Is What We Eat,” Larry Lessig’s Situationism,” Big Calories Come in Small Packages,” The Situation of Policy Research and Policy Outcomes,” Industry-Funded Research,” The Situation of our Food – Part I,” “The Situation of Our Food – Part II,” The Situation of Our Food – Part III,” and “The Situation of our Food – Part IV.”

The American obesity paradox is explored at some length by Situationist Contributors, Adam Benforado, Jon Hanson, and David Yosifon, who devoted a sizeable article to the mistaken but dominant dispositionist attributions made regarding obesity and the actual situational sources of the epidemic, including industry capture of regulatory institutions. To access their article, entitled “Broken Scales: Obesity and Justice in America,” click here.

Posted in Abstracts, Deep Capture, Food and Drug Law, Politics, Public Policy | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Situation of Corruption

Posted by The Situationist Staff on February 6, 2010

We thought our readers be interested in an article by Eduardo Salcedo-Albarán, Isaac De León-Beltrán, and Mauricio Rubio’s, titled “Feelings, Brain and Prevention of Corruption”  (3 International Journal of Psychology Research 2008) now available on SSRN.

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In this paper we propose an answer for the question: why, sometimes, people don’t perceive corruption as a crime? To answer this question we use a neurological and a psychological concept. As humans, we experience our emotions and feelings in first person, but the neuropsychological mechanism known as “mirror neurons” makes possible to simulate emotions and feelings of others. It means that our emotions and feelings are linked with emotions and feelings of others. When mirror areas in the brain are activated we can understand and simulate in first person the actions, emotions and feelings of people. Because of these areas, the observer’s brain acts “as if” it was experiencing the same action or the same feeling that is perceived. Each organism establishes causal relations to understand, manipulate and move in the world. Causal relations can be classified as simple or complex. In a simple causal relation, cause and effect are close in space and time. When cause and effect are not close in space and time, the causal relation is complex. When perceiving or committing homicide, a simple causal relation is enough for identifying a victim, but when perceiving or committing a public corruption crime, a complex causal relation must be established for identifying a victim. When seeing someone committing bribe there is no an evident victim. If persons can’t identify victims of public corruption crimes, then they will not generate empathy feelings. When a victim is not identified and perceived, there is no reason for thinking that harm is being inflicted and mirror areas in the brain are not activated.

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You can download the article for free here.  To read a previous Situationist post on corruption, see “Larry Lessig’s Situationism.”

Posted in Abstracts, Neuroscience | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Larry Lessig’s Situationism

Posted by The Situationist Staff on February 25, 2009

Samuel Jacobs, a senior at Harvard College and associate managing editor of The Harvard Crimson, recently interviewed Larry Lessig for the Ideas section of The Boston GlobeThe conversation illustrated Lessig’s situationist perspective of corruption.  Here are some excerpts.

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ROD BLAGOJEVICH ACCUSED of trying to sell a Senate seat. Dianne Wilkerson stuffing cash into her shirt. A Harvard doctor taking huge consulting fees from drug companies. This past year ended with a collection of new examples of a very old problem: corruption. Lawrence Lessig, the Stanford intellectual-property scholar recently hired away by Harvard Law School, believes he may have some solutions.

Lessig, who has built a reputation as a leading advocate for free culture and loosening copyright laws, surprised many two years ago by shifting his attention from cutting-edge Internet law to the broader problem of corruption. At Harvard, Lessig will head up the university’s Safra Foundation Center for Ethics, where he will begin a five-year effort to investigate corruption in government and academia.

He sees both fields as polluted by the emergence of a consulting culture in which professors and advocates, whose independence is crucial to society, regularly take payments from corporations and industry groups for their advice and services. As a result, people presume that money is behind every effort of public policy, and trust collapses.

Lessig, 47, hopes his project will help change how we think about corruption, moving the focus away from corrupt individuals and toward the bigger systemic question of how society supports and enables them.

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IDEAS: How depressing is corruption these days?

LESSIG: I think we’re getting to the maximum depression point. The reason is I think that institutions that before had a stronger ethic of independence have given that ethic up. I think that we are seeing an erosion of practices which produced institutions that we could trust.

IDEAS: How do we go about fixing these things?

LESSIG: There are some people who think about the word “corruption” and they are thinking about it as if it is speaking about something evil. . . . Evil brings to mind images like Hitler or Pol Pot. I’m very much of the view that that is not an interesting way to think about this problem. We have enough attention and understanding about why people like Hitler or Pol Pot or the bad guys in the financial crisis are bad guys. I don’t think we’re actually going to make much progress focusing more of our attention on those bad guys.

What we need to do is to recognize the bad guys in all of us. All of us who don’t take small steps that actually would have a significant chance to eliminate problems. In the academic context, when you don’t raise a question about colleagues who are accepting money to do policy research, making policy recommendations that are directly connected to the money that they are receiving, what you are doing is nothing evil in the Hitler sense. You are just being weak. You’re not asserting an ethical position that, if asserted, might actually help keep the integrity of the institution.

IDEAS: What has your own experience been with corruption?

LESSIG: I had this experience very viscerally when I was having a private debate with one of my colleagues, who it turned out had been giving public policy advice about some area that we were disagreeing on. I discovered that he was being paid by a party directly interested in the public policy advice he was giving. I said to him that your authority as a figure comes from the fact that people believe what you’re doing is saying what you think is true, not saying what you think pays the bills.

IDEAS: What about your interactions with government?

LESSIG: I tell this story in one of my talks about Senator Sununu sending me a nasty note, after I was down in D.C. talking about network neutrality, saying that I ought not to be shilling for these companies. It struck me that he couldn’t imagine that while I was down there doing public policy work, I might just be down there not because somebody was paying me to do it, but because I thought it was the right answer.

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IDEAS: What sorts of things might you do at Harvard?

LESSIG: We could pick the domains of public life where trust is a central part of the success of the mission of those domains: medical research or the legal profession or the media . . . or what Congress does. Trust is at the center of those institutions, in the sense that if you want people to listen to you when you tell them that they should vaccinate their children against malaria, people need to trust that when you say the vaccines are safe, they are safe.

If you don’t have that trust in society, what happens is that people don’t vaccinate their kids against malaria, and malaria starts to take off, and as it takes off there are devastating consequences for the population. Trust is at the center of that relationship. The question is how we build trust.

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To read the entire interview, click here.  To read some related Situationist posts, see “Al Gore – The Situationist,” “Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Situationism,”A Convenient Fiction,” “The Situation of Swift-Boating,” “The Situation of University Research,” “The company “had no control or influence over the research” . . . .,” ” Deep Capture – Part VII,” “Industry-Funded Research,” and “Industry-Funded Research – Part II.”

Posted in Choice Myth, Deep Capture, Ideology, Law, Legal Theory, Politics | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

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