Saturday, November 27, 2004

Bring Back Bribery

Here's another opinion I've held for many many years, but rarely had a chance to talk about: the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, 1977 is one of the dumbest and most damaging ideas to come out of the particularly dumb and damaging Congress that sat in the late '70s. Here, courtesy of the Diplomad, is a perfect example why:
The Diplomad recalls lobbying the President of a small country to buy Boeing aircraft for the national airline; with Boeing reps we reviewed in detail the superior price and performance of the Boeing over the Airbus product. The President and the local airline representatives agreed with us that the Boeing was the better plane at a better price. So, as you would expect, Airbus got the deal. The French had bought the President a house in southern France.
In much of the world, bribery is the way business is done. If you want to do business there, you have to pay the baksheesh, or you don't get the contract. And everyone else in the game is playing by the rules, but since 1977 US companies have been unable to do so, for fear of getting caught and being prosecuted here in the USA. So naturally the business has been going elsewhere.

I have long believed that accepting a bribe should be illegal, but paying one should not be. Not only does the payer of a bribe often have little choice in the matter, in most cases he has no duty of care to the victims (generally the bribe-taker's employers, or taxpayers if he is an official). But whether paying bribes in the USA should be illegal or not, it's not for the USA to enforce other countries' anti-bribery laws (if they even exist), especially when the countries in question aren't complaining. And doing so to the detriment of the USA's own citizens, with no benefit at all to the USA, is just perverse.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"one who has the hundred, has the opinion" old yiddish saying. yossi

Sun Nov 28, 09:37:00 PM 2004  
Blogger Milhouse said...

He who pays the piper calls the tune, but only in a free market where there are many pipers competing for trade. Where the pipers' guild has a monopoly, and the power of the state behind them, and person paying depends on the piper's good will for his livelihood, then the piper sets the price and, if he wants to, calls the tune. And if one bidder, who is quite prepared to pay what the piper demands, is forcibly restrained from doing so, then other bidders not so restrained will be calling the entire playlist.

Mon Nov 29, 12:47:00 AM 2004  

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