Corruption is almost always boring, for it involves three factors: power, money and sex. You would think that someone, somewhere, might come up with an original type of corruption. Perhaps defrauding yourself would be a good start, especially if you happen to number among the rich (countries and individuals).

At the same time, there are variations in the way corruption works. You still get the same three staples, but way corruption operates can vary due to cultural and political differences. A few examples:

1. In Eastern Europe, corruption ensures that nothing gets done. Money for hospitals does not build hospitals; money for roads does anything but build roads; money for education …

2. In Western Europe, corruption ensures that nearly everything costs the earth. Yes, the road may be constructed, the hospital built, the metro system dug out of the earth, but it costs a squillion. And everyone pays and pays and pays to use what is built.

3. In the USA, nearly all corruption has been legalised. No limits on ‘donations’ to political parties, no limits on individual wealth, no limits on pandering to special interests. This is the paradigm of bourgeois democracy at work.

4. In Australia, nothing gets done without corruption. A ‘developer’ will not build anything unless he or she gets favourable treatment from politicians, so politicians need to favour developers in order to gain the former’s support. As the recent investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption shows, corruption is deeply ingrained in the political system. However, we have been experimenting with a novel way of stamping out corruption: simply ensure that the person offering ‘gifts’ becomes a political leader. No longer does he have to ‘persuade’ a politician; he is a politician.

5. In China, corruption is familial rather than individual, for the family ‘benefits’ from corruption. However, unlike bourgeois democracy, in a socialist democracy corruption is not a virtue.