Saturday, July 15, 2006
The root of all evil
Let's say you are living your life, working along, you and your spouse getting by, but wanting more and feeling like the slightest tilt in your lives could send you spinning. A little better than paycheck to paycheck, but not feeling perfectly safe and solid. Then say someone shows up on your doorstep and offers you anywhere from three to 10 times your current annual salary to do something for him. Something that could be seen as unethical, but that viewed in other ways could be seen as a Good Thing. Something like, say, give up a child for adoption to that Shining City on the Hill known as the U.S. Maybe be able to feed all your other children and clothe them and shelter them better than before. Or take your neighbor's child (after all, they've got too many and they're known to be bad parents). Or just make things move a little easier along, and, oh, by the way, get some of that three to 10 times your annual salary for yourself... Well, maybe you wouldn't do it. But what about your neighbors? Would they? Or their neighbors? Now look at the following per capita incomes in U.S. Dollars as of 2004:
China 1,290 Russia 3,410 Guatemala 2,130 South Korea 13,980 Ukraine 1,260 Kazakhstan 2,260 Ethiopia 110 India 620 Colombia 2,000 Philippines 1,170 Haiti 390 Vietnam 550For comparison purposes, the annual per capita income of the U.S. for 2004 was $41,400. That's the top 10 countries for international adoption for last year, with Vietnam thrown in because (a) Vietnam was closed last year and is open this year, and previously was a very popular location for international adoption. I'm not looking at per capita purchasing power, because what I'm interested in is a dollar-to-dollar comparison. Now add in "what sort of lifestyle does that $2,000 in Colombia provide people?", and you've got even more motivation--$1,000 goes a long way in some countries. We sweep in with thousands of dollars, asking for kids.Those thousands of dollars may seem like a lot to us, but to many people around the globe, it's not "a lot". It's a bloody fortune. And we wonder if there's corruption and why there's corruption. Strict government control is one approach--China's. But what we consider "strict government control" bumps up against people's motivations, cultural tendencies towards acceptance of bribery, other things. Sadly, I think that corruption in international adoption is almost a given.