One meets road blocks on our highways. A driver stops and the man by the shack saunters out with a huge rifle perched on his hip. He glances over the vehicle and says with tired bluntness and a slight curve of a grin, “The time has come for you to pay me.” He receives the bills and lifts the branch tied to a rope so the driver can pass.
How do you feel about bribery?
For a business to operate legally in our town the owners pay taxes. Receipts are issued to clients to register transactions for tax purposes. Surprise inspectors stand outside shops and ask clients to show them their receipts. If proper receipts aren’t issued the business is closed until they comply with tax standards.
Countless shops sell pirated DVDs, CDs, and games. They operate legally and proudly display their tax registration compliance document on the wall, just as the law tells them they must.
What are your thoughts on piracy?
At the end of the year employees are paid an obligatory 13th month salary. During the month of December motorists choose odd routes so they can avoid strategic police traps. Dozens of officers on foot set up cones and stop drivers at busy thoroughfares. They confiscate motorcycles, write mountains of tickets, and look the other way when cold hard cash is slipped into their hands. Their efforts guarantee their 13th month bonus.
Do you have an opinion about authorities who take liberties?
The organization you work with may have strict policies about bribery, extortion, and other grey areas. Other foreign residents are left to find personal standards of operation.
The word ‘legal’ has many layers when you mix governments and religious belief systems. Conflicts arise when traditions of dress, diet, and holidays demand a choice. When “tipping” an official to do their job gets the paperwork through in days instead of months we are faced with the realities of cultural assimilation.
Push back against the traditional norms, and even the law, and you may face life and death implications. The moral divide for those who hid Jews during the Holocaust went beyond compliance with legal standards and called for people to invoke action against unconscionable terrorism.
How do you choose to draw the line in the land where you live?
Cut corners? Bend the rules? Grease the wheels? Deal under the table? Justify the means by the end goal?
Or are you…
Straight-laced? A stickler? Dudley Do-right? A by-the-book type? An ‘i’ dotter and a ‘t’ crosser?
Feel free to share your stories and opinions in the comments below.