Podcast

The Economics Of Bribing A Cop

Delhi

In Delhi, you can get an expedited drivers license for about $13. Don't worry about passing the test. (NPR/David Kestenbaum) hide caption

itoggle caption (NPR/David Kestenbaum)

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On today's Planet Money:

David Kestenbaum talks about bribery and payoffs in India.

There's the $3.30 a cab driver has to pay a cop to keep from getting a ticket. The $13 you can pay a "broker" to help you get a driver's license — no hassle, even if you don't know how to drive! And the $6,700 an entrepreneur pays to keep his business humming along.

Kestenbaum argues that semi-official corruption is semi-defensible. He quotes the late Samuel Huntington: "[I]n terms of economic growth, the only thing worse than a society with a rigid, overcentralized, dishonest bureaucracy is one with a rigid, overcentralized, and honest bureaucracy."

Also in the podcast, we hear from Gagan Singh (subject of this post from yesterday), who explains why he loves paying bribes. Singh, who runs a small telecom company, recently paid off a building manager who was threatening to cut Singh's cables. Now, the manager is the cables' protector.

"He's like, 'I'll make sure that nobody cuts them, and even if anybody touches them, I'll cut their balls off,' " Singh says. "So It's like he starts working for you. What more do you want?"

Download the podcast, or subscribe. Music: Himesh Reshammiya's "Samjho Na" and AC/DC's "Thunderstruck." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook/ Flickr.

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