Underground Economy

A discussion at work today has caused me to think about all the money that changes hands in this country under the table. You know the kind of thing that I am talking about. Some call it kickbacks or greasing the palm of someone you want to act in a certain way.

One guy I talked to today was full of conspiracy theories. He made it seem like everyone had an angle to work. While the guy made some great points, he also seemed to be a little bit extreme. Our conversation got me to thinking about graft and corruption.

My brother, who happens to own a professional life audio business, tells stories about the music industry that you wouldn’t believe.

I am also reminded of a business associate from Europe who described how Eastern Block countries work. He said that these countries keep costs low by having government employees receive a sizable amount of their pay by people who visit them wanting something. For example, if you need a permit, you have to pay a fee for processing. But if you want the request to be processed in a timely manner, then you have to pay an extra fee to the person taking your request. This money goes directly in their pockets.

My European business associate made it seem that money under the table was the only way that things got done and people were paid in some countries. In those parts of the world, they don’t consider it corruption as much as necessary compensation for government workers. This “system” pushes the cost of the service onto the person wanting it. What we consider bad in the United States is common practice in other parts of the world.

America is not innocent when it comes to the underground economy. While our society seems to be more honest than some, we still have big companies that play favorites, special interests that give junkets to powerful people, and politicians who take kickbacks for political favors.

At what point does an action go from cementing a relationship to buying influence? This can be a hard line to identify. What seems true is that many people are all to willing to skirt that line whenever the situation warrants it.

Scripture states that God hates dishonest scales. This means we should try to be fair and not do things that show preferential treatment for unjustified reasons.

Are you scales balanced or are you a participant in the underground economy?

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