A GAB’s Eye View of 2020

Thanks to WordPress, the free, open-source, amazing software that runs GAB, Matthew and I know something about our readers.  Don’t worry. It doesn’t tell us who you are or what your email addresses are, but WordPress does show us where you live and what posts you find of greatest interest.  As 2020 comes to its welcome end, we thought you would be interested to know where you come from and what topics most interest you.

GAB readers live in all but five of the 193 members of the United Nations and in one prominent non-member state.  Pope Francis himself may not be one of GAB’s Vatican City readers, but we would like to think that GAB posts chronicling the impact of corruption on less developed nations has in some way contributed to his forceful denunciation of corruption and the harm it wreaks on the least fortunate.

The five UN member states where not a single citizen read even one GAB post this past year are:

 Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Korea, Iran, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. The lack of readership can be interpreted in one of two ways.  Either citizens in these five are not concerned about corruption, or they fear the consequences were their government to discover they had visited GAB.  That the governments of the five rank at or near the bottom on every cross-national measure of corruption, respect for human rights, democracy, rule of law, and quality of government should make it plain which is the correct interpretation.

Not surprisingly, given English is the dominant language and Trump their president, Americans were the most frequent GAB visitors. Language and population surely explains why the next three countries with the most visitors were, in order, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and India. These four were followed by four non-English speaking nations, however: Mongolia, Brazil, France, and Germany.

The biggest surprise in the readership figures was Mongolia, a country of 3.2 million where English is only now catching on. It placed fifth in readership thanks to the December 8 post reporting a filing in a New York state court seeking a freeze on property allegedly owned by former Prime Minister Batbold Sukhbaatar.  The New York filing is in support of an anticorruption case filed in Mongolia in late October against Batbold.  For reasons this writer does not understand, the Mongolian press has not reported on that case, apparently making the GAB post the only source of the news that their former Prime Minister and likely 2021 presidential candidate has been charged with corruption. It was the second most read post in 2020.

The most read post of the year was Ryan Balisacan’s January 2018 post, Remembering Ferdinand Marcos’ History of Corruption is Relevant to the Philippines’ Present Anticorruption Efforts. Ryan wrote it to counter a revisionist history then gaining adherents that Marcos wasn’t as corrupt as it was said.  He advanced three reason why it critical Filipinos not buy into this story line. One, it could assist other Marcos family members in continuing the family tradition of robbing the public fisc; second, it could undermine current efforts to fight corruption, and third, to prevent another Marcos from arising, Filipinos must not forget how much damage the first one’s corruption did to their democracy and economic well-being. The editors are pleased to see that two years after his post appeared, Ryan’s eloquent, well-reasoned appeal continues to resonate with so many Filipinos.

 Other most read posts include, again not surprisingly, Matthew’s Tracking Corruption and Conflicts of Interest in the Trump Administration, his 2014 but still widely popular critique of Robert Klitgaard’s famous “formula”–  “Corruption equals monopoly plus discretion minus accountability,” and IMF General Counsel Rhoda Weeks-Brown’s December 9 post on what the IMF is doing to fight corruption.

Grim as 2020 has been, it has laid the groundwork for a brighter 2021. American voters dumped Trump, and their Congress passed legislation requiring all corporations organized under U.S. state laws to disclose to law enforcement their beneficial owners. Transparency International reported an uptick in OECD countries’ enforcement of their foreign bribery laws, Malaysia began the process of holding those responsible for the 1MDB scandal accountable, Latin America is putting the Petrobras scandal behind it, and the UN General Assembly’s April Special Session on Corruption promises to keep the spotlight on the impact corruption has on the world’s poorest nations.

Matthew and I wish all our readers a happy, less corrupt 2021.

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