posted on Feb, 15 2013 @ 04:58 PM
These guys were talking about doing business in foreign markets, and therein lies the issue. It's a "damned if you do, damned if you don't"
scenario, and, I think, a completely unworkable situation.
On the one hand you have everyone in the Western World telling you to NOT judge other cultures by Western standards. It's ethnocentric, we are told,
to foist our values on foreign cultures, who have just as much a right to their ways of life as we do ours. We are not to interfere. So, for example,
we must accept Islam as an OK religion even while we condemn our own, and if Sharia law proclaims the death penalty for adultery and allows you
"honor killings" because your daughter glanced at another boy, then, by God, we had better just stay out of it because we have no right to interfere
and it's none of our business.
Oh, and bribery. The rest of the world exists on the tradition of bribery. Whether you slip the customs agent in Mexico a twenty to "expedite" the
customs process, or you pay the beat cop in Cairo to allow you to park the tour bus close to the Sphinx (I saw this happen myself), or whether you
arrange a couple of million to an African dictator on the side to get drilling rights, the fact is that "gung sa ma" (Chinese for "just so much")
is an accepted practice in most of the world.
On the other hand, of course, we in the Western World are "held to a higher standard" because, as everyone knows, "bribery = corruption" and is a
crime. If you accept so much as the gift of a T-shirt after choosing AT&T over Panasonic for a telephione system you have to report it or risk being
fired. The public will become enraged that you enriched yourself with said T-shirt and there will be 100 comments to the story in the newspaper
calling for your beheading.
So we are expected to compete to sell goods and services to other countries while the purchasing agents scheme to get the biggest bribes for the
contract. In this case an Italian firm was selling helicopters to India. Remember now: You CANNOT judge another culture with your own silly
westernized ideas of morality. If you do you are ethnocentric and probably racist, too. That's against the rules. On the other hand you have the
other country that's asking how many T-shirts they get if they give the contract to you--sometimes quite openly. And that's against the rules, too.
What to do?
Do you want the contract, or not? Berlusconi is telling you the truth here, the absolute truth, the "real politik" of doing business globally. What
you call "corruption" the rest of the world calls "doing business normally." In the rest of the world it's not a crime, or is only on paper to
appease the westerners. That's exactly what Berlusconi is telling you. You have to come to grips with this when you start calling for beheadings. You
don't really want to be told the truth here because it's too upsetting to your sensitive westernized palate. It puts you in a state of cognitive
dissonance. Your head may explode from the strain.
Berlusconi is right. Bribes are necessary. They aren't crimes. And if you have ever accepted a T-shirt or a ball cap from a supplier or slipped the
maitre d' a few bucks for a good table at a restaurant, you've participated in it, too.