Corruption, lobbying, and improper political influence plague our political systems, wasting money and creating bad governance. We should start using randomized sting operations to expose corruption.
Brian, great stuff as always! Your punch line about stings being inherently dishonest and sneaky is not the point. Those being “stung” play victim saying that it was all a set up and they should not be held accountable. The point is one needs to fight fire with fire. Corruption and the fight against it is inherently an asymmetric game/battle. Those engaging in corruption have no rules, yet those fighting it must follow rules.
What you are proposing is to even the playing field. As an economist by training, using this game theoretic approach makes sense and should be implemented widely across not just those in authority such as police and politicians but also across other sectors of the economy at upper management and C-suites.
BTW, what you propose has been around in the economic literature for at least 3 decades to enforce rules (say environmental laws and regard in which I was interested at the time). The idea is random, unannounced monitoring helped enforce such regimes across the board where direct monitoring across all sites is impractical for technical or cost reasons.
The same principles apply to rooting out corruption. But unfortunately, when the corrupt and ideologically homogenous groups control the levers of power, such methods are used to crush dissent, ideas, and the free flow of information such as in authoritarian regimes. Spies and informants are everywhere and you do not know who they are.
Brian I generally agree with you. Here I worry about justifying stings. I'm all for getting the corrupt corporation or politician. But the poor guy stung in a cop orchestrated drug purchase. Not so much. Granting legitimacy to one, Grant's it to the other.