Money Talks

by Dual Income No Kids on January 4, 2007 · 0 comments

In honor of our house ethics committee working to change the way things are done here in Washington, I thought I’d do a little piece on the cost of doing business.

Here in the US we tend to think of bribery as some ‘otherly‘ doing, meaning that folks somewhere else engage in such practices, but not us. While this might be the case outside of Washington lobbyists, I’d argue that we have plenty of ways of getting around this little factor.

For instance, I’m leaving to the Democractic Republic of Congo on Monday and am still in the process of getting my passport reissued in my new married name. While the passport agency doesn’t accept bribes to push things through more quickly, they quite welcome charging a hefty fee to ‘expedite’ the process. The same will go for acquiring my visa, though the DRC embassy may not be as subtle with the link to bribery.

While I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana I watched folks pay hundreds of dollars to get a passport processed. The normal process without paying extra bribes can take eight months. If you pay enough, you’ll have it sooner, depending on the price you pay. Thus, while we Americans don’t like the idea of bribery, we simply have it built into our system rather than outside of it. While I’m not going to argue with the system at this time, given that I’ve got a passport and visa needed to fly on Monday, I would point to how this disadvantages those who do not have the extra funds. Additionally it slows down the process for those who do get their documents in on time.

Food for thought in this ethics Thursday!


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