Of Course Ghana Can Eliminate Corruption – Just Make It Not Worth It


The Attorney General has said that it would be impossible to eliminate corruption in Ghana. If we mean completely eliminate then yes, of course, we humans never manage to completely eliminate anything other than dodos. But if we mean get rid of it to the level where it’s simply not a problem, not something we even note any more, then yes, that’s entirely possible. The trick is to make it not worth being corrupt. Either reduce the rewards or increase the punishments until we get to that point.

The thing is, among us humans, incentives matter:

The Auditor General, Daniel Domelevo, says it is almost impossible for Ghana to completely eradicate corruption. According to him, the canker cannot be completely eradicated but can be managed or reduced. He said corruption permeates every fibre of the Ghanaian society and that makes it very difficult to tackle.

That everyone does it might seem to make the problem impossible to solve. But all are indeed subject to incentives. So, we change the incentives and we’ll change the actions:

He said educating the public on corruption will go a long way to help in fighting the canker in Ghana. “It is my considered opinion that if you want to eradicate or reduce corruption significantly you need to do a number of things including education. I think we have to identify clearly what constitutes corruption,” Mr. Domelovo opined.

Well, you never know, tell people how to do it and they might do more of it. Tell them everyone does it and they might conclude that they might as well.

The thing is incentives matter. So, we could increase the punishments for corruption. But that would mean we’d also have to catch those who are corrupt and that is difficult when everyone is doing it. So, we’ll have to try the other method.

Make it unprofitable to be corrupt. This means less government. The corruption comes from either being able to spend/steal the state’s money, or by gaining some licence or privilege from the state. So, the state has less money, does less spending, we’ll have less corruption. Similarly, if you don’t need a licence to do something then you don’t need to pay a bribe in order to gain one – less corruption again. So, move to a minimalist, minarchist even, state and you’ll reduce corruption to the minimum. Simply because there’ll be little point in being corrupt as the state doesn’t spend or grant riches that are worth bribery to gain.

People only bribe the government because it’s worth it – stop the government having the power and there’s no point in bribing them.