The Tyranny Of Small Bribes

Phil Zabriskie profiles a young Afghan with big dreams:

He’d been invited to attend a conference in Europe, but he can’t get a passport. He has all the paperwork–he showed me when we last met–and he’s followed every rule as he should have. But the clerks won’t process it unless they receive a bribe. They just won’t. It’s not that it will take a little longer. It’s that he won’t get it at all. Their salaries are nothing. They need something extra for the family. And that’s just how it’s done. The price of doing business. No matter what it says on any piece of paper, no matter what the President or anyone else says–these are the laws of the land. The young man doesn’t want to pay, but his alternative, Afghanistan being what it is right now, is to keep carrying around his folder full of papers that no one will attend to and abandon his hopes of attending that conference.