December 10, 2008
It’s the individualistic states, where there is an ethos that encourages people to be out for themselves, where corruption most easily takes root, argue some political scientists. Just look at the states that make up the group: “That’s the corruption rogues gallery,” says Colgate University political science professor Michael Johnston. “Every state has its own flavor,” he says, “but they all have a very high level of risk for corruption.”I got it, I got it. States that are seen as valuing moral behavior are bad, New Jersey and Illinois are good. Because of the hypocrisy. It's amazing what you can find out when you read Politico articles designed to portray Illinois politics as, like, totally clean.
But the regional theory has one big flaw: The most corrupt states aren’t in the “individualistic” part of the country.
In 2007, the publication Corporate Crime Reporter crunched Department of Justice statistics to rank the 35 most populous states of the nation by corruption. The top three? Louisiana, Mississippi and Kentucky – which can be better thought of as broadly representing the “moralistic” states. Illinois didn’t even break the top five, coming in sixth on the list
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