The Corruption is Deadly podcast is co-hosted by Suzette Grillot and Sara Bana. Every week they discuss why and how we must fight corruption in our public and private spaces in order to develop social solidarity and enhance survival during a global pandemic.

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Why corruption matters

It hurts everyone

  • It erodes trust and confidence

  • It undermines the integrity of institutions/government

  • It wastes resources - financial and otherwise

  • It leads to the loss of and minimizes the quality of goods and services

  • It damages honest people and businesses

  • It prevents sustainable development and good governance

  • It contributes to injustice

  • It perpetuates inequality that is damaging to society

  • It decreases living standards for everyone

  • It creates cultures of fear and silence

  • It limits collective and individual growth and well-being

  • It delegitimizes democracy and the rule of law


Corruption is particularly damaging during a pandemic/crisis

  • Crises create vacuums and enhance the potential & opportunities for exploitation

  • In a crisis, corruption costs lives

  • We shouldn’t have to choose between lives and livelihood

  • We can’t be sure that non-corrupt people will be making life and death decisions

  • Specific information is lacking right now - creating opportunities for misconduct


Therefore, we focus on corruption because we must have social solidarity to make it through a global pandemic - without social solidarity we are fucked - and we can’t have social solidarity if we can’t trust our leaders, our decision-makers, our institutions, our neighbors to not be corrupt. Corruption is not a bi-product of the hard working, law-abiding masses, but usually the failure of institutions/structures under the authority of corrupted or corruptible leaders. 

What causes corruption?

  • Cultures of loyalty/duty

  • Cultures of secrecy/confidentiality

  • Habits/customs/traditions

  • Greed/lack of ethics and morality

  • Lack of transparency

  • Lack of oversight and accountability 

  • Monopolization of market and political power (lack of genuine political freedom and choice

  • Low levels of civil/civic engagement 

  • Low levels of media freedom/state sponsored propaganda/mis-information/lack of education

  • Too much bureaucracy (lack of clarity on who is the authority and who is to be held accountable) 

What is corruption? How do we know it when we see it?

  • Theft, graft, fraud and embezzlement – the various ways in which resources are reallocated to maximize personal/political position

  • Bribery – offering an unearned reward in exchange for some sort of personal benefit; kickbacks

  • Extortion – the use of blackmail or a protection racket to force a particular outcome

  • Nepotism – providing positions to family members who exhibit no qualifications for such position

  • Cronyism – appointing/hiring friends and associates for personal reasons without regard for qualifications

  • Patronage – similar to cronyism, but more likely to benefit particular groups rather than individuals

  • Retaliation – punishment for violating and exposing corrupt “rules and expectations”

  • Manipulation – using false or misleading tactics to influence particular behaviors or outcomes

  • All with the intention of benefiting off of the exploitation of people/public & private resources

  •  Has macro & micro economic indicators 

What can be done about corruption?

  • Awareness/socialization/integrity

  • Anti-corruption laws/closing loopholes

  • Exposure/transparency

  • End impunity/enhance accountability

  • Good leadership/governance

  • Empower citizens via channels for monitoring and reporting

  • Protecting whistleblowers

  • Supporting fact checkers

  • Oversight mechanisms/requirements

  • Increase in civil & civic engagement

Episode 1

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331 W. Boyd  |  Norman, Oklahoma