Exercise 1

A. Listen. What do Ariya and Iris talk about?

B. Listen again. Answer the questions.

1   What did the More Corporation do?

2   What crimes has the mayor been accused of?

3   Why was it a bad idea for the mayor to hire his wife?



corruption in the mayor’s office


1   More bribed the mayor with money in order to get a contract to build a bridge.

2   accepting a bribe; embezzlement; misappropriation of funds (he misappropriated funds meant for an early childhood education program)

3   He stole from the government in order to get a new office for himself, and then repocketed the money by paying his wife for the services. In addition, this hiring created an easy-to-follow paper trail which was found by authorities.


Iris:   Hey, Ariya, you look pretty serious. What are you reading?

Ariya:   I’m reading about the scandal in the mayor’s office. Have you been following it?

Iris:   Not really. What’s going on?

Ariya:   It’s unbelievable. The mayor has been accused of corruption. Apparently, he was caught taking a bribe from the More Corporation.

Iris:   The More Corporation…that sounds familiar.

Ariya:   It’s the company that was just given a huge contract to build the Crosstown Bridge. You know, the bridge that is going to connect the north and south sides of the city? They’re saying that More bribed the mayor in order to get the contract.

Iris:   Wow, that’s quite an accusation. Are they sure he’s guilty?

Ariya:   Well of course he’s innocent until proven guilty, but things look pretty bad for him. The police were tipped off and found evidence of four large deposits into his personal checking account during the contract granting process. They’ve traced the money back to a More account that was opened in the Cayman Islands…. And that’s not all.

Iris:   What? He’s accused of something else?

Ariya:   Unbelievably, yes. He’s been charged with embezzlement. Apparently, he misappropriated funds that were meant for an early childhood education program.

Iris:   You’re kidding! What did he do with the money?

Ariya:   What else do you do with $100,000? He redecorated his office!

Iris:   Are you kidding? That’s outrageous!

Ariya:   It sure is. They discovered the fraud when they did an internal audit.

Iris:   $100,000! He must have bought some pretty expensive furniture!

Ariya:   And you’ll never believe this.

Iris:   There’s more?

Ariya:   He hired his wife, who is an interior decorator, to do the work!

Iris:   Wow! That’s crazy! He’s not only corrupt, but he’s also stupid.

Ariya:   I know. What a stupid way to spend the money. Just think of all the trips that he could have taken!

Iris:   Only you would think of that, Ariya.

Ariya:   I’m just kidding, of course. His behavior is absolutely inexcusable.

Iris:   You can say that again.

Exercise 2

A. Listen. What is sortition?

B. Listen again. Identify who made each argument. Then take notes for both sides.




1   Sortition is anti-democratic.



2   The current system is corrupt.



3   A randomly-selected representative would be easy to bribe.



4   Citizens cannot put their lives on hold for years.



5   Citizens would gain valuable experience after serving.





a system that replaces voting with the random selection of representatives





1   Sortition is anti-democratic.


May: Sortition practiced in ancient Greece, birthplace of democracy. Representatives were randomly selected from free adult male population. So, in fact, Sortition would help to restore democracy. Andrew: Democracy has evolved since ancient Greece. Voting allows average citizens to have a say in how they are governed. Taking this away threatens democracy.

2   The current system is corrupt.


May: Money in politics has made it hard for an average citizen to get elected. You need money to run a campaign. Sortition is a way to rid our system of corruption. Andrew: Sortition would lead to corruption.

3   A randomly-selected representative would be easy to bribe.


Andrew: It would be easy for a big lobbyist to bribe a naïve legislator who is not accustomed to power. May: It would not be any easier to bribe someone than it is today.

4   Citizens cannot put their lives on hold for years.


Andrew: Citizens who are selected would need to put their lives on hold for years. No employer would agree to hold a job for years. May: We could make laws to protect selected representatives from losing their jobs.

5   Citizens would gain valuable experience after serving.


May: This experience would make them more employable once their term ended. They would have access to information on the issues. Andrew: Most of the representatives would have no experience in government. The average person doesn’t understand complex issues such as economic policy.


A:   Good evening! Election season is upon us, so we have invited two guests to debate a timely topic: sortition. Sortition is a system that replaces voting with the random selection of representatives. Rather than choosing representatives by voting, representatives would be randomly selected from the general population. And now, let’s meet our guests. First, we have Andrew Webster, president of our local voting commission. Welcome, Andrew.

B:   Happy to be here.

A:   Our second guest is May Chen, of the Sortition Now! committee.

C:   Good evening.

A:   So, May, the first question is for you. Isn’t the idea of eliminating voting anti-democratic?

C:   Great question, Tom. In fact, sortition was practiced in ancient Greece, the birthplace of democracy. Representatives were randomly selected from among the free adult male population. So, no, it is not anti-democratic at all.

A:   Andrew, can you respond to that?

B:   May is correct in that a form of sortition was practiced in ancient Greece. However, our understanding of democracy has evolved since then. For example, in ancient times, only adult males who owned land were eligible to be representatives. That practice, like sortition, has no place in modern society. Voting is one of the most important ways in which average citizens can have a say in how they are governed. Taking away this right threatens our democracy.

C:   I disagree. In fact, sortition would help to restore democracy. The influence of big money in politics has made it almost impossible for an average citizen to get elected today. You need to have money if you want to run a successful campaign. Our current system is corrupt; sortition is a way in which we can rid our system of corruption.

B:   Far from eliminating corruption, sortition would lead to corruption. Imagine how easy it would be for a big lobbyist to bribe a naïve legislator who is not accustomed to power!

C:   It wouldn’t be any easier to bribe someone than it is today. And because representatives would be allowed to serve only once for a limited term, sortition would get rid of career politicians who stay in office for life—the politicians who are the most susceptible to corruption.

B:   So, May brings up an interesting point. Citizens who are selected would need to put their lives on hold for years. It’s completely impractical!

C:   On the contrary. We could make laws to protect selected representatives from losing their jobs. And the experience they would gain would make them even more employable once their term had ended.

B:   You can’t be serious! No employer would agree to hold a job for years. And you mentioned experience. Most of the representatives would have no experience in government.

C:   Wouldn’t that be wonderful!

B:   I don’t agree. What does the average person know about the many complex issues that legislators deal with every day, like economic policy, for example?

C:   That is actually one of the strengths of sortition. Representatives would have access to information on the issues, just as legislators do now, but they would bring common sense and diversity of viewpoints to the process.

A:   It’s time for a short break. We will continue our discussion of sortition shortly.

Exercise 3

A. Listen. Does the speaker think that power corrupts?

B. Listen again. Then complete the notes.

What is power?

• Definition: Power is the ability to 1________ people.

How do we feel about it?

• Joe Magee – Power is 2________.

How do we get it?

• Dacher Keltner – We gain power by 3________ with others.

What happens when we get it? Does power corrupt?

• Dacher Keltner – Once we gain power, our ability to empathize 4________.

• Pamela Smith – Self-centered people become more 5________ as they gain power.

   6________ people become more concerned with others when they gain power.

C. What is the purpose of the talk? How do you know?



Possible answer: The speaker neither agrees nor disagrees that power corrupts. The speaker introduces evidence that suggests we can become corrupted by power. However, the conclusion stresses that while some people become less caring as they gain more power, this may be due to their own personality.


1 influence   2 liberating   3 empathizing

4 diminishes   5 self-centered / selfish

6 Pro-social


Possible answer: The speaker is informing the listener about recent research. He is not sharing his own views, and doesn’t invite the listener to do so either.


Does Power Corrupt?

You’ve heard the phrase, “power corrupts”, right? It certainly seems to be true. I mean, there’s no shortage of examples we can draw on from history or modern life. Think about it. Corruption is ubiquitous.

But have you ever wondered how power corrupts, or if, in fact, it really does? Before we can tackle those questions, we need to explore what power is, how we feel about it, how we get it, and what happens when we become “powerful.”

Power is defined as the ability to influence people. Power dynamics govern all of our relationships, whether consciously or not. According to Dacher Keltner, author of The Power Paradox, there are many forms of power. For a nation, power can mean military might; for a company, it can mean reputation; for an individual, it can mean social status. Whatever form power takes, there will always be those who have it, and those who don’t.

So, how do we feel about it? Well, emotions run high when it comes to power dynamics. We’re often envious of the powerful. Take the rich and famous. We idolize them. We aspire to be them. But that envy can make us ambivalent, so when a celebrity says or does something out of line, we’re quick to condemn. We enjoy watching their fall from grace.

Given the fine line between adulation and condemnation, why would any of us want to be powerful in the first place? Well, NYU Professor Joe Magee points out that power is liberating. Having power gives us the freedom to show our true selves. The powerless conform, but the powerful can be who they want to be.

Next question. How do we gain power? Well, you might assume that a typical route to power is through coercion. The more forceful and threatening our behavior, the more powerful we become. However, Keltner’s studies have found that the opposite is true.

Keltner has spent years studying group dynamics and has found that emotional intelligence is a key factor in determining who attains power. The kinder and more empathetic we are, the more power we gain. This is because understanding others and focusing on their interests leads to social power, which is highly valued. Coercive power does exist, but it’s empathy that more often helps us become powerful.

Now, let’s examine that statement that “power corrupts.” Is there truth to it? The short answer is, “it’s possible.” Unfortunately, the empathetic trait that helps us gain power tends to get corrupted when we have that power. Once we attain power, our ability to empathize with others often diminishes. We can become more self-focused, and can switch ourselves off from the emotionally-intelligent strategies that helped us get where we are.

So, are the rich and powerful lacking emotional intelligence? Not necessarily. They may genuinely care about the interests of others. It’s just that their power is acting as a kind of psychological barrier to their feelings. Additionally, Pamela Smith, a professor at the University of California, highlights that how we handle power has a lot to do with our own values. People who are already self-centered tend to become more selfish as they become more powerful. The opposite can be said about people who have more pro-social values.

To sum up, the powerless envy the powerful. We want power because it frees us from conformity. We can gain power through empathizing with others. Does that power corrupt us? It could depend on how self-centered and power-hungry we are in the first place.

Exercise 4

A. Listen to the article. What was the main impact of Walters’s and Edwards’s work?

B. Listen again. Answer the questions, according to the article.

 How did local authorities respond to Walters’s initial complaints?

 Why / How did these problems occur in the first place?

 How did Walters, Edwards, and Hanna-Attisha work together to address this issue?



Possible answer: They increased awareness of Flint water crisis, preventing illnesses and deaths. Also, they have inspired others to question the authorities.


Possible answers:

1   The authorities said that the water-supply problems were an isolated issue. They refused to address the situation. The mayor even drank the water on TV to prove it was clean.

2   The problems occurred because of changes to the water supply. The new supply source, the Flint River, had long been contaminated.

3   Edwards and Walters encouraged residents to collect samples of local water. Edwards analyzed these and exposed the problem. Mona Hanna-Attisha was a pediatrician. She provided medical evidence from examinations of young people in the area. These confirmed that the children had elevated levels of lead in their blood, likely caused by lead contamination in the local water supply.



In December 2014, LeeAnne Walters, a stay-at-home mother from Flint, Michigan, noticed something strange about her tap water. It had turned brown. Within a few months, her husband and children developed serious health problems, and her 3-year-old son’s growth had become stunted.

Tests by the local water department confirmed that the water supply was contaminated, but the department insisted that the issue was an isolated occurrence. However, at one point, tests showed Walters’s tap water included 800 times the legal limit of lead particles. Overexposure to lead can damage the kidneys and nervous system in children and adults and cause cognitive impairment in children.

Armed with these test results, Walters fi led a complaint with the local authorities, as did many other Flint residents. Their complaints fell on deaf ears. Over the next few months, authorities refused to fully investigate and continually denied that there were serious issues with the city’s water supply. The mayor of Flint, Dayne Walling, even drank Flint water on local television to dispel residents’ fears.

Walters began researching the water system in Flint herself. What she found was striking. In an attempt to cut costs, the city government had recently switched its water supply from a nearby lake to the Flint River. The Flint River had been a dumping ground for industrial waste for nearly two centuries, yet the government’s desire to clear debts led officials to ignore this fact.

Walters contacted Marc Edwards, a scientist who had experience uncovering water-supply scandals. Ten years earlier, Edwards had investigated claims from the public that the water supply in Washington, D.C., had become contaminated. He discovered rising lead levels in the water systems and unearthed a monumental government cover-up that had resulted in thousands of children being left with lifelong health problems.

Edwards sensed that a similar cover-up might be afflicting Flint. He collaborated with Walters to arm Flint residents with hundreds of water-testing kits. Analysis of samples taken from around the city showed dangerous levels of lead, confirming Edwards’s suspicions that this was not a localized, isolated occurrence.

Supporting evidence from local health agencies proved to be the tipping point. A pediatrician based in Flint named Mona Hanna-Attisha released data showing elevated levels of lead in blood samples taken from children in the area. Hanna-Attisha’s data clearly correlated with that of Walters and Edwards.

The findings were conclusive, and authorities had no choice but to accept blame for the water-supply crisis. Many government employees were forced out of their jobs after being found complicit in a state-wide cover-up. To date, the state of Michigan has spent $240 million to address the crisis, funding a range of public health programs, and has stopped using the Flint River as a source for drinking water.

LeeAnne Walters and Marc Edwards have received numerous awards and accolades for their efforts, and their work has inspired other communities worldwide to fight for clean water.

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