Ethics are values or practices which are collectively upheld by a society. Each society has its own definition of ethics, but there are some universal values or practices which are accepted universally as ethical. One of the issues which have caused a lot of fuss over time in the world is bribery. Bribery is the act of giving or receiving tokens of any type, may it be cash or kind in return of getting favorable treatment contrary to what is required by the law. Over time, many officers have found themselves in a dilemma: finding it hard to choose between taking or rejecting a bribe or giving or not giving a bribe. However, the giving or taking of bribes is unethical and everyone should resist from acts associated with it (Bernadi, Witek & Melton, 2009). One of the ways which has been proposed as a good strategy of countering bribes is increasing the ethical awareness of the public to issues pertaining to corrupt practices. But does this strategy have the capacity to counter bribery? The following essay will give a detailed analysis of ethical awareness and the bribe dilemma.
To start with, ethical awareness is the publicizing of the issue; hence, being able to catch the attention of the targeted audience towards the issues which are under context. Therefore, ethical awareness on bribery is aimed at getting the attention of the public to the acts of bribery. This will consequently lead to the public seeing the unethical/ evil side of bribery and in turn make the people resist from acts related to it. Generally, ethical awareness campaigns should be made in line with the ethical theories. This ensures that the emotions of the target audience are touched, hence instigating them to make moves towards what is being campaigned for in the awareness programs. For instance, the awareness program should integrate the consequentialism theory in its activities; this enables the target audience to see that corrupt practices do not uphold the happiness of the greater number of people. It should also incorporate the use of the deontological theory; this will show the audience that bribery is not based on moral principles. Lastly, the ethical awareness should integrate the virtue theory; it will outline the audience that bribery is not an act of a virtuous person. Generally, in this context, ethical awareness should be aimed at changing the perception of the people towards bribes, hence leading them to resist from bribery acts since they are not ethical.
Turning to bribes, they are cash or tokens given or received so as to get or give a service in return contrary to the provisions of the law (Dennis & Stroh, 1997). Bribes are as old as the world; hence have continuously tormented the society. Graft taking and giving are unethical acts. This is due to the fact that they are not based on morals as per the deontological ethics. Bribes lead to discrimination, which is not ethical (Trinity University, 2001). Secondly, bribery does not result to the happiness of the larger population of people as per the consequentialism ethical theory. This is due to the fact that this process is meant to give unlawful, undeserved or preferential service, hence impacting negatively on the larger population of people (Lysonki & Gaidis, 2001). Ideally, bribery leads to the happiness of the person who receives the preferential treatment, but leads to the unhappiness in the greater number of people. Bribery may also exist in a form of extortion whereby public officials may be demanding for a bribe in order to give services. For instance, a judge asking for a bribe so as to give a judgment is an act of bribery. This act also leads to unhappiness of the people, therefore it is unethical. Lastly, as per the virtue theory, bribery is immoral. This is due to the fact that bribe taking and giving is not done by a virtuous person; instead, bribery is seen as an act of an individual who has a deficiency of moral values (German, n.d) For this reason, bribery is not honorable, hence the many strategies by governments aimed at countering bribery which is a very prominent form of corruption and proves to be a lethal vice. It is threatening the foundations on which the society is based on.
There are several examples of bribery acts which have raised eyebrows in the recent past. One of them is the recent issue about the giving of bribes to government officials by Wal-Mart, one of the largest chain retailers in the United States of America so that they could be given building permits. The revelation of this scandal brought a lot of attention to practices in the consumer retail industry (CNN Money, 2012). The government had a lot of suspicion on the practices of retailers in the country and as an effect of Wal-Mart’s scandal has launched investigations into the practices of other retailers (Viswanatha, 2012). The unlawful provision of building permits to Wal-Mart or any other retailer is not good one. These acts give such organizations as Wal-Mart a competitive advantage over other retailers. This is because Wal-Mart is able to get the best places to locate its stores, hence having a location advantage over its competitors. It is necessary to underline that the act of giving and receiving bribes which occurs during the process is also immoral. In the end, it subjects the consumers to the mercies of unethical retailers. Another example of corrupt practices in the US is the scandal about Glaxo SmilthKline acts of giving bribes to pharmacists and doctors so as to ensure that the professionals administered the company’s drugs in precedence to drugs from other companies (Ball, 2012). This is very unethical, since it subjects other drug companies to unfair competition. Therefore, it is not the market forces which determine the competition, but bribery forces. The drugs administered to the patients may not always be the best but doctors and pharmacists were inclined to giving Glaxo SmithKline drugs due to the bribes from the company. Other bribery acts include tax evasions, police bribery and judicial bribery among others.
As indicated earlier, ethical awareness has the potential to counter bribery to some extent. First of all, ethical awareness on grafts will lead to resistance to the bribery acts. This is due to the fact that people will acknowledge that it is not always about them, but it is about the happiness of the greater number of people. In such situation, everyone will be striving to ensure that practices which disadvantage other people to act unlawfully; it will lead to a collective resistance to bribery acts (Williams, 2012). The point is that ethical awareness on bribery reduces the public’s tolerance to bribery. Ideally, there should be zero permissiveness to this process in the society; however, this can only be achieved in a perfect society which cannot exist. Therefore, the tolerance to bribery can only be brought down as nearest to zero as possible, it should be done because of ethical awareness on bribery. Lastly, ethical consciousness concerning bribes leads to various follow-ups on the situation on the ground, thus leading to the establishment of certain measures aimed at countering grafts. For instance, the US government has established a legislation outlining what bribery and other forms of extortion are and the possible penalties which would be imposed on an individual of found guilty of bribery.
The best practice of creating an ethical consciousness about bribes is by integrating aspects of all the ethical theories which have been discussed earlier. Firstly, the negative effects of corrupt practices have to be publicized, giving real life examples which have the capacity to elicit more attention from the public. Secondly, the awareness campaign must show the public that bribes are not moral, hence should not be given or taken. More often than not, grafts are given or taken so as a person or corporate can receive unlawful or undeserved treatment which is very wrong on ethical grounds (Wulfekuehler & Osnabruck, 2008). Thirdly, the campaign must show that people or organizations which take part in bribery are not virtuous. Generally, the ethical awareness campaigns against corrupt practices should be aimed at turning the public against these acts.
In conclusion, it has been seen in this essay that ethical consciousness has to play a great role in countering bribery. The paper elicited that bribery is unethical. In order to analyze it, the essay has touched on the ethical theories with respect to bribes. Summarizing the problem it can be identified that bribery does not take into consideration the happiness of the whole population. Corrupt practices are not based on moral principles and lastly, it is a vice virtuous people should not engage in. Various examples which involve bribe taking have also been given in the paper so as to relate it to the real world. Lastly, the essay has given a recommendation how ethical awareness programs should be executed. All in all, ethical consciousness has a big role to play in countering the giving and receiving of bribes. However, it cannot be able to fight the vice alone, hence the need a legislative framework and policies which ensure that bribery acts are dealt with the full force of the law. However, ethical awareness has the capacity to change the society’s mindset on the bribe dilemma ensuring that there is joint fight against this vice.