baksheesh, gratuity, tip, bribe, sweeten the pot, payback, fee, under the table, remuneration…the list goes on.

When a cop pulls you over and you pull out your drivers license, do you reach for anything else from your wallet?

When you go to the DMV, do you slide a $20 bill across the counter?

When you sign up for electricity, do you bring proof of your address or payment for an additional “service fee?”

Probably this hasn’t entered into your mind unless you grew up outside the U.S. But it is the reality in many places if you want to get anything done (legal or illegal, it only matters in the amount/degree).

The international community is trying to change the trajectory of Afghanistan, but  they look they are frustrated by the current system. The Washington Post ran an article, which referenced fatigue of the U.S. troops. While fatigue is definitely a factor, the cause is a much deeper difference in just how things get done.

This is a system developed on a completely different timeline (sometimes I wonder if the concept of time exists), connections (who would you call to make something happen), and money (how much will you pay for a service).

Everyday I hear about how corrupt one or another ministry is. It takes people to make a place corrupt, while the employees say “we are not really ‘corrupt;’ we don’t make enough so we must supplement our income.” I don’t buy this argument on multiple levels.

I’m working to improve the delivery of services to citizens. There is a HUGE need for this work. However, I am learning that many of the government processes have already been reformed. Yet, many citizens wait 2 weeks to get a vehicle license (and when I say wait, I mean standing/sitting around the department everyday for 2 weeks).

Here is a picture of the Department of Transportation (like the DMV). The inside is even more crowded than what you see outside.

Note: I love the traffic signs posted all along the building wall.

Unfortunately, under the current system, if you don’t want to be turned away for a motorcycle license or if you need your paperwork processed in a timely manner, you’ve got to be ready to “pony up.”