The Meaning of Corruption


DANNY DALTON [an oilman from Texas and member of the “Committee to Liberate Iran,” after being informed that the U.S. Department of Justice is filing corruption charges against him]: Some trust fund prosecutor who got off-message at Yale thinks he’s gonna run this up the flagpole? Make a name for himself? Maybe get elected as some two-bit congressman from nowhere, with the result that Russia or China can suddenly start having, at our expense, all the advantages we enjoy here? No, I tell you! No, sir!…Corruption charges! Corruption? Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulations! That’s Milton Friedman. He got a goddamn Nobel Prize! We have laws against it precisely so we can get away with it! Corruption is our protection! Corruption keeps us safe and warm! Corruption is why you and I are prancing around in here instead of fighting over scraps of meat out in the streets! Corruption…is why – we – win!

From Stephen Gaghan’s screenplay Syriana (2005)

Photo: “Bennett Holiday” (Jeffrey Wright) and “Danny Dalton” (Tim Blake Nelson) in Syriana


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