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Is bribe immoral?

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Leonid
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Hi, Tony. Again, you are right- first we must survive, but self-deception is hardly a way of human or even animal survival. Can a fish survive if it will attempt to live out of water? Can capitalist survive if he attempts to operate without freedom? The most he could achieve by faking reality and self-deception that bribing is a way to do business is a little bit of time. What he would do if "his" politician get arrested and the new one refuses to be bribed? Remember Rearden's man in Washington? Rearden used to bribe him for years until this guy sold him out. In reality bribe is a criminal offence and everybody who adopts bribery as a way of life assumes the position of a criminal, living in constant fear and guilt. His self-esteem would be therefore destroyed and he could be easily manipulated by the same government he tried to bribe. So bribe is immoral, because it self-destructive, and in the end of the day is useless.

Edited by Leonid
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What's the alternative? Often, the alternative is not having any business at all. There are countries where the legitimate shop-owners in a marketplace have to pay the local beat cop some amount each month. It is like paying off the mafia, and similar calculations apply. Yes, it is true that the bribe perpetuates the system. However, one has to weigh that against the alternative -- including a judgement of how easy it is to change the system.

The alternative is to conduct a business honestly as long as one could, and than to shrug. If you bribe a cop to operate your shop, your suppliers also can bribe him, or another cop, to breach your contract, to take your money and not to deliver goods and to get away with it. What you'll do then?

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How? Because it is a deception and self-deception. The corrupt politician actually cannot bend any law, he has no legislative power. But he for time being can turn a blind eye on your transgressions. Ask yourself what would happen to you and to your business if such a politician get arrested for corruption and becomes a state witness against you? Not only bribe is immoral, it even doesn't have any instrumental value.

You have yet to show that self-deception is inherent in the act of paying a bribe. You won't even consider the case where a businessman knows exactly what his bribe is and is not buying him. Obviously a single bribe doesn't buy permanent protection, and the bribe-taker can break his word at any time. Duh. You think people who decide to pay bribes can't figure this stuff out, and are therefore deceiving themselves about what a bribe can buy? I doubt it.

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Bribing is giving your hard earned money to attain some benefits.

As for example, Indian transportation system is known for its underperformance. One may fail to get a train ticket to attend the funeral of his closed relative. What immoral does such a person do when he pays a share of his hard earned money (bribe) to a government clerk to get a confirmed ticket in advance?

Indian healthcare system is also in a delapidated state (obviously, we have a universal health care system here). What if a person pays bribe to someone in a hospital authority to confirm a hospital bed for his ailing sister or daughter especially when he knows that it would be difficult to get proper medical care without doing so?

When a person bribes a railway clerk to get a confirmed travel ticket, (I am taking a scenario in Indian conditions), he buys time that would have been wasted in a large queue to get the railway ticket. If bribing is claimed to be immoral, then it suggests that using your money for your benefit or leisure is immoral.

While bribing (or using one's own hard earned money) any government officer/clerk/politician, nobody does any immoral act against anyone because basically, the premise of public goods and public services itself is immoral. Furthermore earning money is not immoral, saving money is not immoral, obviously, using money for such a purpose which actually doesn't involve any harm to any other person cannot be called as immoral.

However, for a government officer, taking bribes is certainly immoral because by taking bribe, he actually acts immorally against his employer, that is, the public. I wrote something about it here http://tinyurl.com/436htpf

I will talk about bribing for business profits at some other time.

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Unpretentious_Diva

"What immoral does such a person do when he pays a share of his hard earned money (bribe) to a government clerk to get a confirmed ticket in advance?"

He contributes to injustice, to proliferation of corruption and to the general state of lawlessness. A corruption in India reached such a degree that some people went on hunger strike in protest. The delapidated state of the health care, railroads etc.. is a result of corruption. How then a bribe could be a cure?

http://en.wikipedia....uption_movement

Edited by Leonid
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Hi, Tony. Again, you are right- first we must survive, but self-deception is hardly a way of human or even animal survival. Can a fish survive if it will attempt to live out of water? Can capitalist survive if he attempts to operate without freedom? The most he could achieve by faking reality and self-deception that bribing is a way to do business is a little bit of time. What he would do if "his" politician get arrested and the new one refuses to be bribed? Remember Rearden's man in Washington? Rearden used to bribe him for years until this guy sold him out. In reality bribe is a criminal offence and everybody who adopts bribery as a way of life assumes the position of a criminal, living in constant fear and guilt. His self-esteem would be therefore destroyed and he could be easily manipulated by the same government he tried to bribe. So bribe is immoral, because it self-destructive, and in the end of the day is useless.

I still don't see where bribery becomes self-deception, nor do I see why anybody should feel guilt or reduced self-esteem. There is nothing wrong with becoming a criminal if you're not violating anybodys rights and to follow the law would be self-destruction. Yes, bribery is and should be a criminal offense, but when you live in a mixed market or worse, it's not a law that you should necessarily abide by. The issue of fear is legitimate in some context where there is a real chance of being caught and it is a good reason to not be in a buisness where regular bribery is necessary but this is simply a matter of practicality. You open yourself up to being caught or blackmail when you bribe but if the alternative is having your buisness rendered worthless, or going to jail when you have kids to feed then I couldn't imagine how taking on the risk would be impractical.

Again, tell me how faking reality to a rights violating government by bribing an official is any different than faking reality to a mugger by telling him that you don't have any more money when you actually have some hidden away in your shoe.

Edited by oso
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You have yet to show that self-deception is inherent in the act of paying a bribe. You won't even consider the case where a businessman knows exactly what his bribe is and is not buying him. Obviously a single bribe doesn't buy permanent protection, and the bribe-taker can break his word at any time. Duh. You think people who decide to pay bribes can't figure this stuff out, and are therefore deceiving themselves about what a bribe can buy? I doubt it.

The person who bribes,believes that by this act he could escape the reality that made him to pay the bribe in the first place. This is clear self-deception and an attempt to fake reality.

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I still don't see where bribery becomes self-deception, nor do I see why anybody should feel guilt or reduced self-esteem. There is nothing wrong with becoming a criminal if you're not violating anybodys rights and to follow the law would be self-destruction. Yes, bribery is and should be a criminal offense, but when you live in a mixed market or worse, it's not a law that you should necessarily abide by. The issue of fear is legitimate in some context where there is a real chance of being caught and it is a good reason to not be in a buisness where regular bribery is necessary but this is simply a matter of practicality. You open yourself up to being caught or blackmail when you bribe but if the alternative is having your buisness rendered worthless or going to jail, then I couldn't imagine how taking on the risk would be impractical.

Again, tell me how faking reality to a rights violating government by bribing an official is any different than faking reality to a mugger by telling him that you don't have any more money when you actually have some hidden away in your shoe.

I can only repeat the answer which I gave to Dante: paying bribe is an attempt to evade the same very reality which caused to pay the bribe in the first place. Clear self-deception. As for self-esteem-nobody could maintain it by developing dependence on a government bureaucrat corrupted to the core. The constant fear of been exposed ( maybe by the same bureaucrat) and prosecuted also doesn't improve your self-esteem. And if you a rational and moral person, you will feel the guilt because you know you fake reality.

Edited by Leonid
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I can repeat the answer which I gave to Dante: paying of bribe is an attempt to evade the same very reality which caused to pay a bribe in the first place. Clear self-deception. As for self-esteem-nobody could maintain it by developing dependence on a government bureaucrat corrupted to the core. The constant fear of been exposed ( maybe by the same bureaucrat) and prosecuted also doesn't improve your self-esteem. And if you a rational and moral person, you will feel the guilt because you know you fake reality.

Paying a bribe is not an attempt to evade any reality at all and it is not self-deception. If you think it is, prove it or at least give some reasoning, don't just say it. Maybe having money extorted from you and some fear of being caught is not good for your self-esteem, but I'm sure giving in to the government and sacrificing your buisness would be even worse. It would mean that you were beaten by the system. What would having your children being put in a foster home while you're in jail do to your self-esteem?

I think if you explained how bribery is different than lying to the mugger, it would clarify your rationale.

If he doesn't , he wouldn't pay.

Why not? It's completely possible for someone to realize that a law that he subverts is still in existence despite his subversion. Edited by oso
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"What immoral does such a person do when he pays a share of his hard earned money (bribe) to a government clerk to get a confirmed ticket in advance?"

He contributes to injustice, to proliferation of corruption and to the general state of lawlessness. A corruption in India reached such a degree that some people went on hunger strike in protest. The delapidated state of the health care, railroads etc.. is a result of corruption. How then a bribe could be a cure?

I guess you fail to understand the term Corruption. Bribing isn't corruption, social welfarism is corruption, using your money to buy leisure isn't corruption, corruption is the State controlling market. A person living his life honestly and using his money for his pleasure without harming anyone isn't increasing corruption, corruption is actually being supported and increased by those revolutionaries who are taking the fake issue of corruption. What are they actually demanding?

They are demanding another totalitarian authority of inspectors to check every action of individuals under their false premises of corruption., They are NOT talking about reducing the actual corruption, which is certainly the State Interventionism in productive sector, they are talking about reducing that which actually makes even this corrupt state to work.

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Unpretentious_Diva

A corruption in India reached such a degree that some people went on hunger strike in protest. The delapidated state of the health care, railroads etc.. is a result of corruption. How then a bribe could be a cure?

http://en.wikipedia....uption_movement

Those who went on hunger strikes are actually the deceivers. They are the reason for the delapidated state of health care and railroads etc.

Oh wow, so you mean to say that Socialism and governmental control over market is good by default and hence the healthcare and railroads of India must be in good conditions and if they are in bad conditions, they are because Indians bribe?

But such kind of thinking is irrational.

People are forced to bribe because they have no way out. People are forced to bribe because if they won't they won't be able to work. There is an artificial scarcity of resources which has been created by governmental interventions for Social Welfare. Since social welfare has produced such conditions, people are forced to bribe. Bribe is not the reason of delapidated healthcare of railways, bribing is the consequence of Socialistic approach of governent and denail of property rights.

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Paying a bribe is not an attempt to evade any reality at all and it is not self-deception. If you think it is, prove it or at least give some reasoning, don't just say it. Maybe having money extorted from you and some fear of being caught is not good for your self-esteem, but I'm sure giving in to the government and sacrificing your buisness would be even worse. It would mean that you were beaten by the system. What would having your children being put in a foster home while you're in jail do to your self-esteem?

A generally irrational man would view bribery as completely normal - he would constantly

need to evade the outcome (the 'justice') of his irrationality by subverting it, one way

or other: force on others - or bribery. He could indeed deceive himself into believing

that he is 'successful' in life and business as a result.

This is apparently Leonid's rationale, and I agree, so far. At least it should not be

dismissed out of hand, as a strawman.

My departure from it is based on the fact that in a society that penalizes the moral and

law-abiding, one must not become a martyr to the System. It is rationally egoistic to

protect oneself, and future. Income tax is decreed by State at some ridiculously high

level? Then it is moral to not disclose one's full income: the immorality is the State's.

Pragmatism? maybe. I'd call it practically moral.

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The alternative is to conduct a business honestly as long as one could, and than to shrug.
The first is not an option, because I assume that we're talking about a scenario where the bribe is required by the system in place. So, your advice boils down to: shrug. That may be your personal preference, but it's probably bad advice for most people.

If you bribe a cop to operate your shop, your suppliers also can bribe him, or another cop, to breach your contract, to take your money and not to deliver goods and to get away with it. What you'll do then?
If you don't bribe, things will be worse. You have to understand that there is a degree of stability within corrupt systems too. You can think of corruption as being a type of unwritten law -- bad law, but not as arbitrary as you suggest. Very often, the best bet is to follow this unwritten law, knowing that it has a degree of stability. it is the nature of such systems that some more powerful actor can enforce written law when it suits them. One has to weigh the risks and act accordingly.
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I should make it a little more clear. Bribing is not like paying less for getting a thing. Rather, it is paying more than what the seller is asking for. Bribing in this sense is bidding a higher price.

Indian railways should be a decent example again. You will get a first class ticket for a price set by the government (if you are lucky), but you will have to try for it around two or three months ago the date for your travel.

On the other hand, sometimes people find themselves forced to travel. Someone may get a telegram of a phone call from his native city about his mother's recent accident and he may feel like travelling right then to reach by the bed side of his mom. What will he do then? Obviously, accidents cannot be planned two or three months ago.

He won't be able to get a ticket through the legal channe; He will have a choice to pay bribe for some clerk and the actual price of ticket to get a chance to travel.

Thus, by paying high, by offering a higher bid for a seat in first class coach, he will be able to travel when it is required. I see nothing immoral in that.

Same is the case of paying bribe to get a license to open a vendor's shop at your own property. First of all, government has no right to allow or disallow anyone to do anything at their own land unless the act is not harmful for others. If government is forcing people to take permits/licenses for people to use their property in the way they want, then it is corruption, moral, political, ethical corruption. To save yourself against this corruption, either you can defy government, or you can pay bribes.

Defying government would be sacrificial. Bribing will not only be beneficiary for you, but it will also be beneficiary for the society at large because ultimately, people will realize that government controlling market is evil. Indians are gradually realizing this.

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Unpretentious_Diva

"What immoral does such a person do when he pays a share of his hard earned money (bribe) to a government clerk to get a confirmed ticket in advance?"

He contributes to injustice, to proliferation of corruption and to the general state of lawlessness. A corruption in India reached such a degree that some people went on hunger strike in protest. The delapidated state of the health care, railroads etc.. is a result of corruption.

No, it's the result of socialism. Without corruption, India's transportation and health care wouldn't be much better. Without socialism, it would be. Even if there still was corruption.

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But does it mean that from the ethical point of view two wrongs make right?

I think that the moral ambiguity in bribes that you are speaking of stems from not holding the relevant virtue in context. I made a similar mistake some time ago in a thread on the rule of law. Honesty doesn't demand that you always tell the truth, or that you help with the social engineering of your society. All it requires is that you not try to get something for nothing. So if I were attempting to bribe an official to stay in business(something that I, of right, ought to have been able to do anyways) then I have received no dishonest advantage. If, on the other hand, I bribe an official to put my competitor out of business through the use of corrupt laws and arbitrary enforcement, then I have acting out of accordance with virtue.

Requiring that someone forgo participation in something that they are passionate about because it would adversely affect society is a pretty altruistic request. If you are considering a question where social engineering is properly involved, such as "should bribery be illegal," then the answer is pretty obviously no. if you are asking a personal question about an individual's choice in a given circumstance, then the answer depends wholly on whether or not they received what the earned or should have had anyways. I'd also note that the official accepting the bribe is always immoral and responsible for the social effects of the system. not the unarmed victims living under their rule.

Galting out to live in a yurt by the river or whatever, is a personal decision that depends on the individuals passion for their purpose, assessment of the reality of success, and conception of the length of time before collapse. I likely have 30 to 60 years left to live. The possibility that the US welfare state will substantially change during that time is pretty remote in my opinion so I would view neglecting something I am passionate about in order to be on an indefinite vacation void of purpose and values would be a sacrifice of the highest order regardless of how shitty things are or where we are heading.

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Requiring that someone forgo participation in something that they are passionate about because it would adversely affect society is a pretty altruistic request.

What's that damn banging? Is that the sound of someone hitting the nail on the head? Why I think it is.

Edited by Nicky
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No, it's the result of socialism. Without corruption, India's transportation and health care wouldn't be much better. Without socialism, it would be. Even if there still was corruption.

This is altogether different issue. India is not a socialist country, but mixed economy, pretty much as all other countries in the West. But corruption in India reached such a proportion that it affects major branches of economy and infrastructure. people don't go on hunger stike against corruption for nothing.

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The first is not an option, because I assume that we're talking about a scenario where the bribe is required by the system in place. So, your advice boils down to: shrug. That may be your personal preference, but it's probably bad advice for most people.

If you don't bribe, things will be worse. You have to understand that there is a degree of stability within corrupt systems too. You can think of corruption as being a type of unwritten law -- bad law, but not as arbitrary as you suggest. Very often, the best bet is to follow this unwritten law, knowing that it has a degree of stability. it is the nature of such systems that some more powerful actor can enforce written law when it suits them. One has to weigh the risks and act accordingly.

As far as I know, corruption has no laws. And if it has, it's as arbitrary as the law one try to bend by paying bribes.

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A generally irrational man would view bribery as completely normal - he would constantly

need to evade the outcome (the 'justice') of his irrationality by subverting it, one way

or other: force on others - or bribery. He could indeed deceive himself into believing

that he is 'successful' in life and business as a result.

This is apparently Leonid's rationale, and I agree, so far. At least it should not be

dismissed out of hand, as a strawman.

My departure from it is based on the fact that in a society that penalizes the moral and

law-abiding, one must not become a martyr to the System. It is rationally egoistic to

protect oneself, and future. Income tax is decreed by State at some ridiculously high

level? Then it is moral to not disclose one's full income: the immorality is the State's.

Pragmatism? maybe. I'd call it practically moral.

To avoid payment of taxes in any possible legal way is not only moral, it's a moral obligation. But paying bribe is exactly like paying tax. The difference is that you do it voluntary, nobody forces you to support corrupt officials. You do it because you think that in this way you can sustain your business and this is clear self-deception.

"BEE company owners say they are forced to provide poor-quality goods at inflated prices to recoup the costs of paying mandatory kickbacks to corrupt politicians and government officials.

Nine black businessmen told The Star that they are required to “grease the machinery”, a term for kickbacks, or face exclusion for dubious reasons from multimillion-rand contracts

In addition, they said they were expected regularly to donate huge sums to the ANC, its leagues, the SACP or even opposition parties in charge of a province or municipality.

The Star has learnt that the kickbacks are paid in cash, or through subcontracts given to relatives or the spouses of politicians and public servants, or the winning bidders are instructed to buy expensive “gifts”, such as cars worth up to R1 million.

The businessmen spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, jeopardising their chances of getting future business or implicating themselves in criminal behaviour.

Between them, they do business with the state at all levels and in all provinces

Their firms operate in key sectors of the economy such as infrastructure, management consulting, property, transport, water reticulation and roads. They admitted to inflating prices, paying kickbacks or knowing someone who has done so over the past two years. ]

However, they denied it was an exclusively black practice, saying white directors were also guilty of the same crime "

http://www.iol.co.za...state-1.1370745

This is the reason why BEE businesses are not sustainable, they appear and disappear overnight.

(BEE-Black Economic Empowerment)

Edited by Leonid
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To avoid payment of taxes in any possible legal way is not only moral, it's a moral obligation. But paying bribe is exactly like paying tax. The difference is that you do it voluntary, nobody forces you to support corrupt officials. You do it because you think that in this way you can sustain your business and this is clear self-deception.

It is voluntary in exactly the same way that taxes are voluntary. After all, you can choose not to earn money and then you don't have to pay any taxes. A public official who will use the governments force of arms to not let you act in accordance with your own judgement without first being paid is very much using force against you.

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