Why do people accept bribes?

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The second annual competition on the subject of Corruption has been held by Proti korupcii/Against Corruption association supported by NGO Fund. Read an awarded essay by Martin Beňo from The Grammar School at Varšavská cesta 1 in Žilina.

Why many people don’t mind bribes?

People traded their values and costs for an influence and power from ancient times and afterwards also used them to control others. In The Kingdom of Hungary the first marks of buying over or corruption appeared in the 15th century. Judges used to accept so called pre-hearing gifts then, which was permitted and therefore allowed by law. Since then bribes became a natural part of pursuing one’s interests throughout human evolution up to these days.

To illustrate the situation when people don’t mind bribes, let’s take an exemplary profession. Imagine you work as a judge. You’re on an average salary, it rather seems your performance evaluation of your professional status is inadequate. You tell your friends you’re doing fine and don’t know what to do with money, in fact you’re not that well-off. You’re frustrated and here comes a client who thinks his case is endangered and his opponent has enough evidence to beat him. But your client can’t afford to lose, so he offers you a gift as a sign of friendship, usually cash. Desiring money you wish that much, you don’t think of justice or moral values, so you don’t mind being bribed.

The root of the problem lies in the question – why do people accept bribes willingly? Some of them do because every month they have the same figure on their payslip they are not satisfied with and simply can’t afford a new Audi. Some of them might enjoy it. They feel more important and the excitement they get makes them feel like a big-league. Finally, there are people who had no option, they have lack of money using most of the wage to pay mortgage and are thankful for a roof over their head. Extra money are always welcome and moral principles left behind.

The most exposed professions are doctors, judges and politicians. In other words the offices that direclty influence people and their lives. A more influential politician has such competence that even a president doesn’t have. He can do almost whatever he likes. In Slovakia deputies make the most of it – they do whatever they like. Thereafter they become a target of bribes. And as they are untouchable, they accept the bribe harmlessly. They don’t mind which bill they legislate or who they liberate. They also need to make a living out of something, don’t they? Let’s say a doctor can’t guarantee a safe surgery but if you pay, you might get the term a few months earlier. But not anybody can afford to be privileged. That’s why it’s one of the filthiest and most unfair things to do – offering or accepting a bribe in health service. But you can still see the Dubai holiday photos of your ‘guardian angel’ pinned around his office. And no, he was not working night shifts.

To understand why people are willing to get bought, let’s have a brief look at history again. Our civilization is very selfish since its beginning. Let’s take Adam from Paradise, he couldn’t resist and to fulfill his desire, he picked the Apple from a tree and ate it. God punished him and Eve by expelling them from Paradise. And so we, our generation spoilt by materialism, can’t turn down offers appearing as better future to us. Man is incorrigible, he will make the same mistake at least twice in his life and so we behave selfishly like Adam. And it is also going to revenge on us as it has in his case.

Despite of the fact that everyone individually is responsible for offering / accepting a bribe, I think that people are behind that social fiasco. It’s a pyramide with state authorities bribed by higher classes, mafia and rich investors. So everyone should ask himself in this new regime called capitalism, „Am I ready or am I not to betray myself?“

Author: Martin Beňo 8.07.2015

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