Corruption hurts life outcomes in a variety of ways. Economically, it diverts resources away from their most productive uses and acts like a regressive tax that supports the lifestyles of elites at the expense of everyone else. Corruption incentivises the best and the brightest to spend their time gaming the system, rather than innovating or creating new wealth. Politically, corruption undermines the legitimacy of political systems by giving elites alternative ways of holding onto power other than genuine democratic choice. It hurts the prospects of democracy when people perceive authoritarian governments to be performing better than corrupt democratic ones and undermines the reality of democratic choice.
An irascible and combative old resident of Salem, Giles Corey is a comic figure in The Crucible whose fate turns tragic when he unwittingly effects his wife's charge for witchcraft when he wonders aloud about the strange books she reads at night. Corey is a frequent plaintiff in court, having brought dozens of lawsuits, and he stands with Proctor in challenging the girls' accusations, believing that Thomas Putnam is using charges of witchcraft to secure land. When Corey refuses to name the person who heard Putnam declare these intentions, Corey is charged with contempt of court and dies when the court orders him to be weighted with stones to coerce him to admit the name.