Why is there so much corruption in politics? What is the primary reason people break the law?

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To ask, “Why there is so much corruption in politics now?” implies there is more corruption today than in the past. First, definitions must be agreed upon before the discussion can be properly engaged. For example, what is political corruption? Some folks would argue that simply being a member of a rival political party makes one corrupt. For the purposes of this discussion, let us assume corruption equates with the compromising of one’s ethics and using one’s positions for personal gain.

Once this definition is agreed upon, one has to determine if there is more political corruption now than in the past. Some politicians have been guilty of corruption ever since this classification of people came into existence. If there is an increase, it is likely one of perception and population increase. Unlike in the past, with twenty-four-hour news cycles one hears about issues such as political corruption the instant they come to light. In the past such information came in a trickle; today one is deluged with information about corrupt politicians daily. Furthermore, there are simply more people in the country than in the past. So, while the percentages of corrupt politicians may remain consistent, the actual number of corrupt politicians and acts will have grown with population increases.  

As for the main reason people break laws, it is to circumvent civil society’s legal conventions to gain a perceived benefit. People commit crimes, big and small, to obtain an advantage. At the lower end, if a driver runs a stop sign, the benefit is to arrive at one’s destination sooner or to proceed ahead of another driver. In more serious cases, people steal and commit fraud for monetary gain. Rapists commit their crimes to satiate a perverse desire for pleasure and dominance. Murderers commit their crimes out of a desire to quench the need for vengeance, to gain financially, or to eliminate a rival. In virtually all cases, criminals commit crimes mainly to gain something they desire.

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