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What Are Cronies?

Cronies are long-term friends who receive mutual benefits from each other. The term cronyism refers to impartiality to long-standing friends who are given positions of authority and favorable business opportunities out of friendship. Cronyism is considered a form of political corruption, and is commonly used to describe contemptuous relationships between government officials and close pals with special privileges. Although cronies generally refer to pals in the government, they can also exist in private organizations. Business corporations use crony capitalism, where businesses, business information and economic and social interactions are exchanged among corporate friends. Crony capitalism is considered highly unethical in economics and market regulations. It is a dishonest business practice that abounds in societies where the legal system cannot effectively delineate cronyism and networking.

The first appearance of the word `crony` is in London in the 18th century, taken from the Greek word chronios, meaning `long-term`. It also appeared in the 1811 edition of Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, and given the definition of `an intimate compaion, a camrade; also a confederate in a robbery `.

Cronyism in the government has since been a subject of debate, given the vague description of how an appointment to government office can be categorized as cronyism. It ranks alongside nepotism, wherein the favor is given particularly to relatives, or even close friends. History gives notable examples of cronyism between high profile personalities like King Henry II and Thomas Beck, President George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, President John F. Kennedy and Robert S. McNamara, and President George W. Bush and Harriet Miers.

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