When driving home from a trip to the mountains with Alex, a Ukrainian colleague, we had been stopped by a traffic policeman who Alex had bribed. To further try explain his actions, he proposed the following scenario:
You're a smart morally upright guy, have an attractive young wife, delightful children, but live in a rather run-down apartment. You work in a ministry, or city hall in a position of authority, or some such, but the pay is poor. You suspect by their better lifestyles that your peers and superiors are 'on the take', even though most of them are dim bozos.
One day at lunchtime a guy you vaguely know taps you up and makes a highly generous and tempting proposal - half up-front. Pull a file, or put one to the top of a stack, pass planning permission or block it... whatever... If you do, it there's a bundle in it for you - a serious sum of money, say a year or two's salary, or more. You baulk at the idea, but the guy is persistent. He says: 'Look, check the matter a little closer, Think it through, have a chat with your wife..I'll get back to you tomorrow, OK?'
You get back to the office and do a check. It's a borderline case - could go either way. . Rules would however have to be 'tested to the limit for elasticity' because legal guidelines are not particularly clear. Other similar commercial interests are 'sniffing around' too - it's not going to make a deal of difference which ever one is successful. You know in your heart what you should or should not do, but whatever you decide you know you would be able to explain it away, and you know you'll get away with it, for sure.
But you want to do the right thing..
You're thinking about it for the rest of the day after you get home from work.The neighbour upstairs is drunk and noisy again, and the other neighbour's kids are playing up. Your's wife is tired and stressed out. You've often talked about maybe buying some land and building a house with a garden..or maybe a car better than the old 'semyorka' so you can live out of town with your parents in their farmhouse.
You're thinking, the kids will need someone to pay their way into, and through university, and you've not had a decent holiday for a while. Sooner or later you'll need the money. Do you consult your wife - ask for her advice on whether to 'trouser' the bribe? What will she think or say? She'll probably leave the decision up to you anyway. Then, suppose you turn it down? What will she say in the months and years to come? Again, probably nothing - she's a good person and you love each other dearly. She trusts your judgement.
But what about when you will be having a row about money, maybe when unexpected problems strike, like the need for expensive specialized medical care, expensive drugs, etc ? What will the wife say then? "You had the chance, and you turned it away...Now we're broke, you crazy..so and so..
Then there's the mother-in-law? What is she going to say to you, if you turn it down? She'll never forgive you. Everytime you meet it will be, 'You should have taken it, you know...if only for the grandkids sake.. Your parents who aren't getting any younger either, they are getting more financially dependent on you too. And the kids, when they are a bit older? "You blew the chance dad - and we're still in this old dump.
But you want to do what's right.
You're in bed, can't sleep because it's all going through your mind. The worst thing is that if you don't 'do the business' and take it, then you know, others, and your superiors, certainly will.
You get to work next morning, and the guy 'phones. What do you tell him?