The Fall, 2004 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives carried a fascinating analysis of the relative bribability of different elements in governance and reporting, based on the records of the Peruvian secret police under Fujimori, during their concerted effort to subvert government, the judiciary, and the press (all while drawing millions in payments from the US government, due to their "antiterrorist" stance, used to fund the bribery campaigns):
Which of the democratic checks and balances - opposition parties, the judiciary, a free press - is the most forceful? Peru has the full set of democratic institutions. In the 1990s, the secret-police chief Montesinos systematically undermined them all with bribes. We quantify the checks using the bribe prices. Montesinos paid television-channel owners about 100 times what he paid judges and politicians. One single television channel's bribe was five times larger than the total of the opposition politicians' bribes. By revealed preference, the strongest check on the government's power was the news media.How to Subvert Democracy: Montesinos in Peru (Thanks, Paul!)
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.