The Fine Art of Bribery

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Author of The Blackout Book and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted

You may have heard the saying, “Bribery will get you nowhere.”

I’m here to tell you that’s simply not true. In fact, bribery, when done correctly, will get you just about everywhere you want to be.

I’ve spent as much time as possible traveling over the past few years, and basically, everywhere I’ve gone, there is corruption. (And yes, this includes the United States.) Where there is corruption, there is generally an opportunity for bribery.

It sounds like a horrible thing to do, but one thing I’ve learned through research and personal experience is that there are situations that call for behaviors in which you wouldn’t normally participate. Becoming comfortable with things outside your normal boundaries is important.

Now, you’ve got to be careful

The first thing you must know is that bribing a public official is not a good idea – in fact, it’s a felony-level lousy idea. It is against the law in the United States of America to bribe cops, judges, politicians, and other public officials. I am not by any stretch of the imagination recommending that you go and bribe somebody.

There are things that can go wrong—lots of them. Don’t read this and dash off on a bribery spree. I encourage you to be a law-abiding citizen and avoid the need for bribes altogether.

But theoretically, if the S were to HTF, and strictly for entertainment purposes, it’s one of those things you can know but never plan to use.

Knowing how and when to give a bribe can be a very useful skill

The world is not a perfect place, and stuff happens. Discretion is the key. You don’t want to make it seem like you are adding fuel to your felonious fire. You never know if you are talking to the one extremely honest fellow in a group of dishonest thugs when you’re considering whether or not a bribe might make your day go a little smoother.

You also never know if opening the door to you giving someone money will make them think, aha, she’s got even MORE money I can get from her. Pulling a large bill out of a stack of bills is just going to make the price of your bribe go up. It’s not just a matter of saying, “How much will it take for you to make (desired action) happen?”

You’ve got to be more subtle than that. You’ve got to “read the room,” so to speak. If you do this incorrectly, you can get yourself in a tremendous amount of trouble. Again: Don’t go bribe people.

Bribery may make you feel bad

I’ve never bribed anyone in the US, but things can work a little differently in other countries.

The first time I bribed somebody, I felt a little dirty. I felt like I’d just committed a criminal act or something. Well, technically, I guess I did. But if it is an important enough matter – we’re talking about life, death, freedom from incarceration, or not getting your water shut off because you never got the bill – you might need to get past your conscience.

Honest people want to do things honestly. And that’s great – but not everyone you deal with in life is going to be honest or fair in their dealings with you.

You might rebelliously think, “Screw that! I didn’t do anything wrong! I’m not going to give this clown any money!” That response always makes me think of this story.

Greg Ellifritz wrote about the latter situation in his book, Choose Adventure. He was traveling in a taxi through a remote part of Africa and an armed policeman, obviously agitated, stopped their vehicle. When Greg offered him some money, the guy let them pass. So instead of trying to wrestle a gun away from a foreign cop, he gave him the equivalent of 25 cents US. Sure, that crazy cop was in the wrong, but would you rather pay a quarter or risk your life? (Here’s my review of Greg’s book – it should be required reading, even for preppers who never intend to leave the US.)

In many cases, a very nominal amount of money can get you out of a bad situation. I’ve offered a few bribes here and there while traveling, and once I got over my original cringe-y feeling, I don’t feel one bit bad about it. As Greg points out in his book, when traveling, add a little money to your budget for bribery and consider it part of travel costs.

Some people will make it easy for you to see they’re open to bribery

One of the biggest questions in your mind when you do this, is whether the person will be receptive to your offer or want to lock you up and throw away the key?

Some people will make it easy. They’ll hem and haw and say stuff like, “It might be possible, but it would be very difficult” or “I know how you feel. My car broke down recently, and the repair is costly. Nobody likes surprise expenses.” They don’t usually come right out and ask you for it, but they’ll make it evident that for the right price, the cogs in the machine might move.

On the other hand, some will flat out try and extort you. This is common in third world countries where police will threaten to impound your vehicle and leave you on the side of the road because you’re missing some kind of permit that doesn’t even exist. It is infuriating, but your options are to either pay the bribe, let them impound your vehicle, or know someone you can call who will get you out of trouble. I was in the car with my mechanic in Mexico when he got pulled over for not wearing his seatbelt. He calmly made a phone call, spoke in rapid-fire Spanish to the person on the other end, and handed the phone to the officer. It turned out my mechanic had gone to school with the chief of police, and they were still close friends. We were on our way in minutes.

The extortion bribes are infuriating, and the situation determines my response. Am I in the middle of nowhere with a couple of hostile cops threatening me? Am I right downtown, with people all around whose attention I could get if I made a scene? If I can do so safely, it’s my general practice to refuse to pay extortion bribes because that rewards bad behavior. I generally ask for a lawyer or a judge (it’s different depending on what country you’re in), and the difficulty magically disappears. I make every effort to follow the local laws to the letter to keep myself out of this situation, but it doesn’t always matter. With people like this, there’s still some “fee” or “toll” or “permit” that you evaded. I’d rather not encourage tourists’ mistreatment, but I’m going to choose the safest option if I’m put in this scenario.

How to offer a bribe

When offering a bribe, the wording you use is extremely important. Suppose you’ve found that one honest guy in a corrupt group, you want to be able to brush aside your offer as definitely-not-a-bribe-of-course. If you’re not having this conversation in your first language, you will want to be even more careful lest you insult someone’s mother instead of offering them money.

When offering a bribe, you want to be very careful to do it outside of the earshot of others. Figure out who is involved in the situation and has the power to make it go your way, and then try to get him aside so you can find your moment.

You don’t want to say, “What will it cost to make this all go away? Subtlety is of crucial importance. All of the suggestions that follow have some plausible deniability built into them. Here are a few ways to offer a bribe that doesn’t really sound like a bribe, but the person you’re bribing will know it’s a bribe.

  • “Can I pay the fine to you now? I’m afraid I only have cash.”
  • “You’ve come all this way for no reason. Thank you for being so considerate. The least I can do is offer you some gas money.” (I said this to the guy that was about to cut off my water because I hadn’t received the bill. Thus, I hadn’t paid the bill.)
  • “Is there a possibility I can take care of this ticket right now? I’m from out of town and don’t want to have to come back and pay it.”
  • “Could I pay you to watch my car if I park it here?” I’ve done this when seeking parking in a busy town in Mexico in a parking lot for patrons only.
  • “Do you ever do any kind of consulting work to help people get their paperwork through a little bit faster?” A friend of mine paid a city inspector as a “consultant” to push through some paperwork on a building permit.
  • “I heard there was a fee I could pay to make X happen.”
  • “I’m in business too. I’d much rather settle this problem now than later when it will cost me more money. Is there anything we can do right now to fix this?”

I prefer it when they tell me the amount they want so I can counter it if necessary or “gratefully” pay it if the price is reasonable. “How much is the fine?” “What is your rate for this type of consultation?” These are both good ways to get an idea of the amount they want. Some will shoot for the moon, and you’ll need to counter it. Others will shock you by how little they ask.

Treat it like a private, quiet, and respectful business transaction because, in many places, that’s precisely what it is. Bribery is a way of life.

Bribery in survival situations

Now above, most of what we talked about was making things run a little more smoothly, getting out of tickets in foreign countries, and small procedural bribes. But in a survival situation, you might be facing the difference between life or death, escape, or imprisonment. Some familiarity with the fine art of bribery could be helpful in that kind of negotiation.

Go big or go home if it’s one of those situations. If your very life is dependent on this bribe, don’t try to cheap out. Hopefully, your money will be hidden in various places across your body so that when you pull the cash out of your pockets, you can make it very clear this is every single dime that you have.

Don’t think that cash is the only currency, either. I live out of suitcases, so that doesn’t leave a lot of room for sentimental keepsakes. I usually buy a piece of silver or gold jewelry everywhere I go for my souvenir. Doing so means not only do I have something pretty to bring back good memories, but I also have something that could be used as a bribe in an urgent situation.

One of Selco’s pieces of advice about using precious metals when the SHTF is to collect wedding rings from pawnshops and secondhand stores. If you bring out a gold coin, a person would not be unreasonable to think you have other gold coins and that this was just the beginning of their lucky day. But if you pull the wedding ring off your finger, it seems a lot more likely that you do not have a bag of wedding rings in your backpack – even if you do.

What are your thoughts?

I know some folks are outraged by the very idea of bribery, just as they are outraged by the idea of scavenging supplies. I consider it another tool in my mental arsenal and one of the many lessons I’ve learned while traveling outside the United States. We might still be looking pretty civilized here in America. But if the collapse we’re currently experiencing continues to devolve, it may not be long until bribery is a way of life here, too.

The ability to navigate this landscape casually and confidently may well be an important skill here at home one of these days.

What are your thoughts on bribery? Have you ever had to “grease some palms” to make things happen more quickly? Have you ever had to bribe your way out of trouble when traveling? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Well, Daisy made every effort to put it nicely but coming a place that surely figures among the Top 10 or 15 Bribing Champions Of The World, I can say it is all true. And then some.

    And as a Selco and others keep hammering, the rules change and you must see this and acting accordingly. When things go crazy and uncertain or dangerous (full SHTF or not), bribing goes high up to the top for survival.

    It becomes ‘survival of the bribest’ really.

      • That would depend on the situation. Am I trying to get my family through a checkpoint? If so, handing a gold ring to the guy at the gate isn’t going to alert his military buddies but shooting him sure would. Any time you use violence as your solution, you risk having violence perpetrated on yourself. If not by that person, then by their loved ones who are bent on vengeance. This isn’t cowardly, it’s common sense. I have some skills to defend myself, but why escalate my risk to the point that I have to use them if a simple token gets me through the situation with less chance of harm to myself or my loved ones?

        • “Any time you use violence as your solution, you risk having violence perpetrated on yourself”

          (nod) sure there’s times and places for this and that. but every time you bribe you’ll get increasing demands for increasing bribes with increasing violence threatened for non-payment. once you start bribing you just make the problem you have to deal with later on bigger.

          • And so by refusing to bribe you stop the practice, the threat of violence, and the violence? The person with the power just shuts down and becomes the angel you always knew he could be?

            Where do you imagine such things begin? And how do you imagine it’s all down to you to stop it?

            If it were true that the violence will only escalate if you give in to a bribe, why haven’t things gone so far out of control it’s all chaos and murder and mayhem “under the table” now?

            Most people in personal negotiations in private, among themselves, know how far to take things — except the rulers.

          • That’s not always true. Bribery is the way of life in many parts of the world. When in Rome…You can’t always avoid it and as Daisy pointed out, sometimes you just have to do it.

        • “A bribe is like unto a magic stone to the one who gives it; everywhere he turns, he succeeds.” —Proverbs 17:8

          I can recall just one ambiguous encounter I had long ago when I was in college that might be interpreted as bribery. I was traveling from my college in Michigan to my older brother’s wedding in Wisconsin in a rented car because my regular vehicle was too unreliable at the time for such a long trip. On the way there, I found the vehicle needed some gasoline, but it seems I was on a highway running somewhere through the south side of Chicago.

          When I got on the off-ramp to find a gas station, I immediately realized from all the black guys in hoodies casually hanging around (at about 11:00 at night) that this was a rough neighborhood and my white skin and rather fancy rental car were going to make me stick out like a sore thumb. Moreover, the gas station I found had one of those windows with thick bulletproof glass and a slot underneath for handing your cash to the attendant, and lots more of those neighborhood toughs hanging around, so I figured this was a potentially tense situation. Just as I’d pulled up at the pump and was considering whether to risk getting out, however, one rather affable young black guy came sauntering over to my car, motioned to me to roll the window down just a bit so we could talk, and offered to pump the gas for me; he claimed this was his job.

          While you don’t hear about too many full-service gas stations these days (especially on the south side of Chicago), I figured his offer was agreeable, so I said this was fine with me. Then he kinda gave me this calculating look and said “So what d’ya give me for it?”

          I figured that naturally he’d want something for his trouble, and moreover he’s the kind of guy who’d be welcome in this neighborhood and I’m not, so I gave him my biggest and friendliest smile and asked “Well what would you like?” I figured he knew he had a fish on the line and would ask me for a substantial sum, but in the end?

          Him: “I could do with ten dollars.”

          Me: [Same big friendly smile] “Okay.” (I promptly got out a bill and handed it out the window to him.)

          Mind, this was around the turn of the millennium, so ten dollars was a bit more back then than it would be today (as in an extra 50% or more premium on what it cost to fill up the tank), but I still think that generous little “tip” for his services was an absolute bargain under the circumstances. Moreover, having him hanging around filling up my car seemed to keep the other guys who were loitering there (none of whom looked anywhere near as friendly as he did) from accosting me for anything. When I told my parents (who were at my brother’s wedding) about this whole incident later, they told me for all of his friendliness he probably pretty much was just looking for an easy mark to hit up for some money, but as I say: he was welcome in that neighborhood and I was not, he was doing me a big favor allowing me to stay in my car and out of sight of those less friendly guys, and I did rather expect he’d want something for his trouble.

          So: bribing my way out of a sticky situation, or just giving a generous (but not excessively so) tip to the guy working the pump for keeping the situation from getting too sticky? You be the judge. On the whole, I’d say a kind word and a few bucks can get you further with a fellow like that one than a kind word alone, but it never hurts to have a kind word to go with those dollars in any event.

      • Sometimes when the S hits the fan, bribing just becomes a form of exchange. It turns into something else. We say ‘bribe’ but there’s really a lot of nuance to this. Even more so when the rules that exist to keep things civilized have changed to keep it more or less civilized.

        Besides not all situations mean necessarily dealing with a threat. It can be a lot of things. Say, if you need someone to do something for you, using violence may simply not work, whereas bribing may just be the ticket to get it done.

        Either way, I prefer to approach problem-solution by starting easy i.e. with diplomacy etc. and turning the pressure up as necessary. That leaves options. Violence may be the last resort because there’s nowhere to go after that.

  • The conversation I’ve seen suggested to me was “I understand that I need to pay a fee / fine / penalty [whichever word is appropriate at the time] for this. Do I need to pay the court … or can I pay you that amount now?”

    Also there is the US federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 which prohibits bribes to foreign officials by either US citizens or US public companies for the purpose of gaining some business or some business advantages, as explained here:

    I once worked for a guy who explained to me that he wanted to keep his company private (and not go public with it) so that 1977 Act would not apply to him when he needed to pay a foreign bribe on behalf of his company. It’s not clear from reading that Act’s explanation that he was aware of its prohibition applying to individuals as well — at least when some business advantage is being sought.


    • “I understand that I need to pay a fee / fine / penalty [whichever word is appropriate at the time] for this. Do I need to pay the court … or can I pay you that amount now?”

      sounds so slick and smooth, and in the past it was. but in the near future the cops/bureaucrats/officials will be electronically surveilled and tracked just like you are, so they won’t be able to engage in being bribed. “the silver is mine and the gold is mine” and the cattle owners won’t tolerate any losses amongst the cattle.

      • A friend of mine has family in Mexico in an area ruled by a Cartel. He was pulled over while driving, paid a fee and they texted him stuff on his phone that he could show to others that he had already paid his fee.

  • Thirty years ago when Mobil Oil company sent employees to Lagos, Nigeria for business purposes, they always gave them a suitcase full of cash and told them to get from the airport to the office anyway they could. They ended up bribing police officers, taxi drivers and anyone else who threatened them. Worked every time!

    • @Kathleen, my dad grew up as a missionary kid in Lagos, and I remember family stories where they would casually mention paying off a policeman on the side or the road, or their “guide” to get them all the way to where they were going. I never thought about it until now, but they had a pretty casual attitude about the whole thing! It’s just what you did, and the way things worked, in that culture.

  • This is a particularly interesting and intriguing article. Most people in the more well-off parts of the West usually view bribery as a moral failing or an absolute wrong, but that is purely a cultural perspective. In many times and even in some of today’s existing cultures, bribes and other such “corruption” are viewed as minor inconveniences or even as part of a normally functioning society.

    In this regard, I still remember a 19th century Russian novel where a character was taking on a public post, and it was commented that the position had no salary, as incumbents were expected to “derive their incomes from their affairs.”

    • “but that is purely a cultural perspective”

      so is any morality.

      would you pay a leftist operative not to assault you?

        • “Which culture tolerates willful murder?”

          none, rather they just define it to suit themselves. when the soviet bolsheviks moved in and took all of the food in the ukraine leaving the ukranians to starve, they didn’t think it was murder, they just thought of it as culling the herd. when a gang banger shoots a competitor and inadvertently kills a bystander he doesn’t think it was murder, he thinks of it as “what I had to do”. and so on.

          • Do you imagine all Ukrainians just rolled over and played dead until they were dead to placate Stalin? Do you imagine no one resisted?

            If you had been a successful Ukrainian farmer when Stalin’s orders, with enforcers, came down, what would you have done? You, a Ukrainian farmer, would have “resisted”? How?

            And what would you have gained for anyone but yourself in doing so? There were plenty of martyrs made; there always are in human struggles for power and control over fellow human beings.

            Yes, gangbangers DO recognize “collateral damage” as murder. They don’t deny THAT. What they do is try to justify it to their own conscience and thereby glorify themselves while intimidating others whose conscience isn’t quite so far gone yet. It’s always cool to break the rules and invent your own new ones. Especially if you’re the one the others fear and want to emulate.

            “Murder” isn’t a cultural thing subject to “redefinition.” Everyone knows what it is: it is the immoral, deliberate, unprovoked taking of someone else’s life. It therefor needs a “cause” to be rationalized. Rationalizing it permits monsters to rule. The monsters are joined by other monsters when it is apparent that not to do so is to be murdered.

            Stalin famously quipped, “A single death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.”

            Mao famously quipped, “Power comes from the barrel of a gun.”

            Not “redefinitions” of murder. Murder rationalized.

            Lenin, Stalin nor Mao — nor any other ruler — tolerated attempted murder of themselves or any of their trusted lieutenants or lackeys or bureaucrats. Or the banksters they depend on. That was condemned and punished as immoral, as the crime it is. But if it was them doing it, it was moral, in the service of a moral cause.

            We humans can be so deliberately evil. We can justify any crime, especially murder, as long as it’s for “a good cause” or a “necessity,” “What I had to do.”

            We’re the only species on earth that deliberately preys on its own members for fun and profit. And en masse is the most glorious testament to a ruler’s power and “influence.” War makes criminals of all. Murder is a requirement for “the cause.” There’s redefinition of murder for you.

            Why do otherwise sane and decent people allow themselves to be so easily conned into killing others for their rulers’ causes?

  • In Russia it’s called “Success tip”. If a Cop stops you, you hand over your license with a few rolled bills. Simple. Same in Mexico with Federales. In most of Africa, expect to be hinted at or outright fleeced by officials at the airport. Another example; Iraq is a hodge podge of bureaucracy. Nothing moves moves or gets done without some, *ahem* grease. LOL!

  • One of the more entertaining things I have seen in my travels was on a trip to the newly formed Russian Federation in the late 1990’s. Everywhere you went you took a small trinket to give to the bureaucrat you would be interacting with. It could be a simple T-shirt with some standard logo, but the price tag had to be attached to show that it was brand new. I never saw cash being exchanged, but trinkets were the grease you applied to the gears. Each time I went back, my traveling companion always insisted on buying a sack to goodies in America for this purpose. Sometimes it was chocolate, or tourist trap souvenirs, or T-shirts in various sizes from child to adult, but we always had to take some. From what I was told, this was a very common practice during the late Soviet period when the economy was sinking fast, and things were becoming expensive and hard to find. On my most recent trip, the practice had fallen by the wayside.

    • “trinkets were the grease you applied to the gears”

      doesn’t seem to be the kind of bribery the article discusses.

  • What is the true difference between a “bribe” and simply paying for a service rendered?

    What is the real difference between a “bribe” and barter and the “underground economy”/”the black market”?

    What makes paying someone other than an officially licensed and permitted person, granted permit/license by the rulers to collect taxes in the name of the rulers for a product or service, an “immoral” activity?

    Even the Bible does not condemn merely “greasing the skids” for ordinary access or acquisition of services or property, only when a murderous criminal is trying to gain immoral power and control over others, to usurp rulership, with the shedding of blood, or at least that as a step to attain that goal, over other people and their rightful property (Psalm 26:10; Isaiah 33:15).

    There’s a difference in intent and use. If God does not condemn personal negotiations for products and services, why do human rulers? Because such intimate personal negotiations leave no paper trail and cannot therefor be taxed. Nor do they lead to bloodshed or war. What the rulers do by collecting “taxes,” on the other hand, do.

    Banksters and politicians hate personal, untaxable negotiations, “payment under the table,” and seek to prohibit and punish them. It’s not that hard to figure out why.

    Your taxes are mandatory, extortionate bribes to our “rulers” to “make our lives better,” “defend and protect us,” or at least leave us alone. At least that is what we all hope for when we acquiesce and pay them. But I don’t see much actual proof that what we pay them for actually works. The “toll,” the “fee,” for “protection” and “improvements” just increases day by day, and so does our impoverishment and destruction of our rights, even to our own lives and property.

    We see that immorality as moral, and personal, private negotiations where our rulers are cut out of the transaction as immoral.

    Go figure.

    • “What is the true difference between a “bribe” and simply paying for a service rendered?”

      payment for a service rendered is payment – expenses, fees, profit, etc. a bribe is not a payment but an extortion – a personal payment on the side and off the books, usually as an assertion of personal dominance and control by the payee in disregard of law or right. “I run this block. you pay me and I’ll let you get away with a few things, you pay me more and I’ll let you get away with more. you don’t pay me and I’m just not going to see those burglars that sneak into your place tomorrow night.” etc.

      • Yes, so payment for products or services rendered.

        If YOU don’t control that block, and you’re determined to go down it, you have the choice to pay the toll, the fee, the price of being dominated and permitted, or not.

        It may not be “lawful” or “rightful,” but other than to exercise your right and obey what you believe is “the law,” by simply turning and walking away, that’s the only other choice.

        And in a foreign country, where culture, customs, laws and rulers are different, who are you to say? It often comes as a shock to Americans venturing outside of their own comfortable neighborhood that the rest of the world is not America, is not Christian (even as nominally as we are here), and doesn’t care about our laws, only theirs and individuals’ private enterprise to keep themselves and families fed and clothed and housed.

        All payments for all things can be boiled down to “extortion.” I have something you want, and if you don’t give me what I want in exchange for it, too bad for you.

        If the people who can be persuaded with personal, private negotiation were so hell-bent on visiting violence on you and yours, there’d be no reason to extort you. What’s the fun in that, after all, if you can just beat, knife, or shoot at will?

        Pretty soon word gets out, and all your sources for that kind of fun dry up — and so does any chance of profitable “extortion.” In fact, a group of other people will gang together to put you out of business altogether, once and for all. Because such measures as the wanton murderer uses really are bad for business.

  • Years ago my family and I were traveling in China with a tour group. At the end of the trip as we were flying out, our tour leader insisted that we arrive at the airport very early as we might be faced with this situation when checking in our bags. Sure enough, an airport official tried to hit our group up with a “departure fee” that didn’t exist (as opposed to the airport tax already included in our airfare).

    Our guide went up to him and after 15-20 minutes of fierce argument, the official backed down and we went on our way. HOWEVER:

    – Our guide was fluent in Chinese and a very experienced guide, had been there many times, knew exactly what was going to happen and knew what to say.
    -As she had insisted that we arrive early, time was on our side and she made it clear she was prepared to argue all day.

    So it is possible to bypass these situations, but as Daisy made clear in her article it helps to be prepared and to have some experience with this type of situation.

  • I respectfully suggest that you are still thinking of the world as it is now. In the After Time, bribing may be the new way of life. Of course you dont try to offer food to a hungry horde, or they will come back. But if you are going through a blockade and they want you to pay a TOLL, it might be smarter than a gun fight. And you don’t come back that way again. In that case, you shouldnt care if you are encouraging bribery. You saved YOUR LIFE AND THOSE OF YOUR FRIENDS OR FAMILY. Let other people who come along, worry about their own.

  • It isn’t as simple as some people think. My sister’s husband worked for GM in Brasil. One summer she came back to the US to visit friends and relatives. She talked to someone about her husbands job and when they landed her passport was nowhere to be found and she couldn’t get through customs. They locked her and the kids in a room for several hours and then let her know she would have to pay $10,000 dollars US to be free or go to jail and the kids would be taken from her. GM had let her know not to tell anyone who her husband worked for but she screwed up. After several more hours in the lockup she was allowed to call her husband. GM paid the $10,000 and they let her go. While she was locked up they took her luggage to search it. When she got home the passport was in her bag where she had left it. She was told if it happened again GM would not pay and her husband would be fired. Some bribes are extortion and you can’t get out of it.

  • Lots of comments about what happens in other countries. There is a USA version of this. When visiting New York City several decades ago, a relative of mine stated in a very matter-of-fact way, to always carry $20 hold up money. I imagine the current amount would be closer to $100. You get stopped by a thug, you better have some money to give him or get beat up.

  • Folks please remember…..”a tip”….represents Taxation With Direct Representation!….That is ..need to get out of a situation…..a small..”propina , dash or blat”…will help Tremendously!! As a long time lonely planet type backpacker….I guarantee if you want to avoid a hassle…..go with the flow! You will be on your way posthaste!…..Always keep the appropriate cash neatly divided and separate from your real stash….

    As a lifelong certified “Cheap ass”…The aforementioned strategy simply works.


    Uncle Sams Misguided Children Alumi

  • It was a requirement to get through the borders when the wall fell. A cartoon of cigs and you just went through no questions. Without it you were formally processed in a untimely fashion.

    • I wonder how a nice cigar would have worked? I would sure think that it would make checkpoint duty much more enjoyable nowadays and yield a satisfactory result. “I’m sorry officer, I didn’t realize I was missing that permit. Would you like a nice Cuban cigar while we talk about this?”

  • I grew up in a large midwestern city. In the 70s and 80s and probably before (and maybe still; I don’t live there anymore), if you got a traffic ticket, you could retain a lawyer to “fix” it. The lawyer would then go visit a judge or the judge’s clerk and the ticket would disappear. This would usually cost more than the fine but it would keep your insurance from going up (more than the fine over 3 years) and also not be attached to your driver’s license by the state. A friend of mine got so many tickets in one year in the 80s that she was about to lose her license and her insurance would have gone through the roof. She avoided both by having her lawyer take care of things.

    This same city had a large Mafia presence and the rumor was that for enough money, any charge, including murder, could be made to disappear. I don’t know if that’s was true but I did know someone who got out of several drug charges and that was probably how he did it.

    To me, it is far more honest to be openly “bribable” than to pretend to be honest but be completely corrupt. That is the case in the large near where I live now. It is far more corrupt than where I grew up but their holier than thou attitude is revolting.

    I have used bribery also in foreign countries too. It’s completely acceptable in most parts of the world.

  • Daisy I’m traveling with you !!
    I used to be very set in my ways and thought that when the truth and being honest law abiding citizen was all I needed. Then I had a very rude awakening .
    If some cash keeps my family safe through an area or reduces the stress on them, well I’ll do what’s necessary. Bribery happens everywhere .

  • To me bribery is you actively looking to break a law. Extortion is them wanting a bribe for you to do anything.

  • Daisy,

    I’d like to point out one mistake in your article. I grew up in Center City, Philadelphia and learned the art of bribery from a young age, In Democrat run cities, bribery is a standard practice and has been for over half a century. My father was in the bar business in Philadelphia from 1960 through the late 80s. Beat cops, precinct captains, liquor control board agents, building inspectors, health inspectors, and almost all city and county workers expected bribes if you actually wanted to get anything done and didn’t want your business shut down because of “infractions.”

  • Daisy, I’m copying your ideas for bribery for later use in case I find myself in a tight position. No one is a saint,the only one’s I’m aware of are dead

  • dealing and bribing with the various US trade unions go hand in hand >>> I’d work in at least $2K bribe $$$ into a trade show budget for any major city – any inspectors involved with setting up a show booth display were the very worse when it came to bribes ….

  • Many international companies and government organizations encourage management personal to get PMP (Project Management Professional) certification. Several of the lessons concern when to offer a bribe. In the lower levels of US government operations this is illegal, but overseas this is expected, and is how business is done. PMP does not encourage breaking laws, merely to utilize all the tools at your disposal when managing overseas operations or when procuring overseas.

  • Great write-up! A helpful way to get around language barriers is to include a folded bill in your papers when you hand them over; it can help to ensure your paperwork is all “in order.” However, knowing when and how much can be an art.

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