First, I want you to consider the possibility that The System is broken because of corruption–the basic integrity of key players is in doubt. As one example, Wired is now reporting that, following a court order demanding the Secret Service release documents related to its investigation of Aaron Swartz, MIT has filed a motion to intervene. The article indicates that the judge granted relief to MIT following an off-the-record conversation. Nice work if you can get it!
Here’s the second thing. So you have these powerful people–but they’re not typically personally powerful (or physically or even intellectually, for that matter). But they derive power from their position within one bureaucratic power structure or another or a few. Although this is a somewhat hyperbolic example because it has to do with Russia, when I read this article, I couldn’t help but think of the technical prowess of your average American congressional representative. In case you don’t feel like clicking the link, the tl;dr is that in Russia, some state oil company viceroy has set aside nearly four million dollars (USD) to buy him a custom tablet computer based on iOS but with some silly, arbitrary specs. The article proceeds to describe some other status symbol technologies the bureaucrats of yesteryear showcased in order to brandish their standing.
Side-by-side, I think about these two things, and I think ok people are easily corrupted because they want the payout–they want the imaginary life that’s fundamentally different or better off or whatever, and so they sell out their own principles (if applicable) and make life difficult for other people for what? A custom ipad? A better parking spot? Seems like a low bar.