On The Take

On the Take is the book that groks corruption. That is, it develops a series of interrelated observations until the reader realizes that they are all merely facets of a single subtle, deep, and highly depressing statement about corruption, one that defies reduction to a single sentence.

Legal and illegal businesses are interdependent parts of the same ecology, linked both economically and politically. Self-dealing by governmental officials is a fundamental and intractable problem. Crime afflicts poor communities disproportionately not because they are home to more criminals but because they lack the power to force the crime elsewhere. The exposure of corruption is just as political as the concealing of it: prosecutions for graft are a tool used by a political machine to wrest power from another.