The Oxford English Dictionary defines the verb corrupt as turning “from a sound into an unsound impure condition; to cause to “go bad”; to make rotten or rotting.” In public life, the verb corrupt means “to destroy or pervert the integrity or fidelity of (a person) in his discharge of duty; to induce to act dishonestly or unfaithfully; to make venal; to bribe.” This definition is both more familiar and more problematic for liberty, and in this context the idea of corruption speaks to the proper relationship of private interests to politics and government.

The exchange of money for goods and services in private markets reveals individual preferences and contributes to human welfare. Paying money for goods or services provided by a public official constitutes bribery ...

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