I am utterly disgusted and saddened that this article advocates bribery. Mr. Nicholson says "I don't feel like a hypocrite" after saying bribery is the dung of Slovak culture, so we should all roll in it. He "understand[s] that getting things done requires that you bribe state officials". In that case, Mr. Nicholson is part of the problem. He tries to wriggle out of this responsibility by saying that this "seems akin to saying that Israelis are responsible for the death toll of suicide bombings because they continue to eat in restaurants and shop for groceries".
Leaving Mr. Nicholson's tortured logic to one side, I have lived here for three years and have never paid a bribe, and I never will. Like most foreigners living here, I have had customs officials, foreigners' police, and other government officials discover mysterious "problems" here and there. Of course, I could have taken the easy, morally-lax approach to the issue and offered them a bribe, like Mr. Nicholson. But I believe that if we want to see bribery and corruption reduced, then each one of us has the responsibility to practice what we preach. So instead, I argue, ask questions, read the laws, fill out more forms, point out silliness and inconsistency or lies, et cetera. And eventually, the problem is solved to my satisfaction - without any bribes.
How does anyone know that a bribe will ensure better treatment from a doctor? You can only assume that this is the case, but you will never know, will you? When you offer a bribe to someone, you are telling them that you do not believe they are morally and ethically decent enough to perform their chosen vocation in a legal, professional manner. Expect people to do their job and hold them to it. By refusing to consider bribery, you give people the opportunity to be the way they should be.
Mr. Nicholson scoffs at the idea that individuals might actually have moral choices. I recall a past editorial where Mr. Nicholson questioned the morality of Slovaks compared to Westerners. How hollow that seemed then. How even more so now!
20. May 2002 at 0:00