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Little Big Man

I know many people who grew up in Soviet Bloc satellites after World War II and they told me cute stories about how you had to bribe people all the time for service. If you went to a doctor you took him a chicken from your chicken coop in your back yard, or some home-made jam or home-grown vegetables.

I used to mock their corruption. Then I recall a friend once said to me many years ago: “We just had just petty corruption; here you have corruption so big you can’t see it.” I didn’t pay too much attention.

Now of course the Soviet Union has big corruption as well as little corruption, with political leaders getting business advantages, and the ANC in South Africa has made many of their leaders rich too. But when I read the papers here nowadays, with stories of open bribe-taking to get business, and congressmen and senators getting sweetheart deals, and more subtle advantages based on what seems to be crony capitalism, I’m inclined to believe my friend. There are many little big men around here too.

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