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InsiderOnline Blog: October 2012

Ending Corruption Is Hard Work

An innovative effort to import institutions of the rule of law into Honduras has run into an obstacle, and that obstacle, of all things, is the Honduran Supreme Court. A five-judge panel of the court ruled that the plan to create a charter city with its own government, laws, and police forces, amounts to transferring national territory, which is forbidden by the constitution. The case now goes to the full 15-member Supreme Court. [CBS News, October 4]

The idea of charter cities has been developed by economist Paul Romer as a way of getting around the endemic political corruption that deters investment and economic growth in many underdeveloped countries. Short version: Transplant Hong Kong’s success to poor countries.

In a related report, the New York Times identifies the difficulty here: “To set up a new city with clear new rules, you must first deal with governments that are trapped in the old ones.” [New York Times, September 30]

Sidebar: Every single article about this project that we’ve read from a mainstream news source uses the adjective “privately run” to describe these planned cities while also reporting that the cities would have their own system of government. That’s a contradiction in terms. A museum can be privately run; an ice-skating rink can be privately run; a trash-collection service can be privately run; but a jurisdiction that has a government is by definition not privately run. It’s as if the media can’t conceive of political authority and accountability existing outside of a centralized national government. Nah, they couldn’t think that, could they?

Posted on 10/12/12 02:56 PM by Alex Adrianson

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