This week we learn about the police culture in Mexico City via the case study “Mordidas’. Mordidas means bribe in Spanish. The case study uncovers how common it is for the people of the Mexico City and the police to engage in giving and receiving bribes. The police that is supposed to serve and protect let their people off by accepting bribes that are little less than $3. Just by accepting bribes, the police encourages the people to break the law and not feel afraid of the repercussions.
A society that is not afraid of breaking the law and knows that they can get away by merely sliding 50 pesos to the police will have citizens commit even more crimes and degrade the quality of life in that place.
The values and morality that are practised by a community or a society cannot be deemed unfair or unethical just because they do not align with the practises of another community (Brusseau, 2012, p. 154). That is known as cultural relativism.
The contrast between traditional ethical values and cultural relativism is that traditional ethical values deem ethics to be practised equally everywhere in the world whereas cultural relativism goes the opposite direction in where every community has a different set of ethics and morality being practised; and those practises cannot be dismissed as wrong or inferior because they are different from another community.
The process of getting and paying off a traffic ticket in Mexico City is definitely different from the process of other countries. The advantages that can be associated with this type of practise can be the benefit it is bringing to society.
The citizens escape additional fees to the accountants and the clerks, and the police make a decent living in return because the police do not get paid enough to live comfortably. The low wage of the policemen and the fact that bribing is easier and cheaper for the citizens than paying off a ticket the regular way allowed this process to continue. This process of bribery is cheaper, and therefore, it helps the society live a bit more comfortably given the circumstances of their limited resources. In terms of justifying this in ethical terms, then autilitarian principle would fit appropriately in this scenario. In utilitarian principle, practises that seem wrong are produced, and a utilitarian would recommend this practise of paying off the traffic tickets in Mexico City because it would produce the most happiness. (Brusseau, 2012, p. 117).
In Canada, bribery will almost land you in jail as it is illegal and looked down upon. There are systems in place to prevent citizens from bribing the cops. The advantage of that is the citizens will be a lot more careful than the citizens of Mexico City when it comes to breaking a traffic law. Canadian citizens will follow the rules so that they do not have to pay fines that can range $60 CAD upwards. The traffic rules are in place for a reason; it is to make the city a better place to drive for the drivers and the pedestrians to safely walk. If the citizens do not fear to break the law, then the safety of the people is jeopardized, which would mean a rise in vehicle accidents and the death toll. The safety of the citizens is a huge advantage in the system Canada has deployed for paying off traffic tickets legally.
The argument can be converted in favor of cultural relativism that it is the right way of looking at things. First of all, there is a vast difference in the living conditions of Mexico and Canada. Policemen get paid well enough to live comfortably with a bunch of additional benefits that might cover their health insurance, their retirement plan, etc. Policemen in Mexico barely get enough income to survive. They have families to take care of, send their children to school so they can get a good education; hence, they might see no choice but accept bribery to make ends meet. The government of Mexico has failed if they are not fairly providing good income and incentives to the police, and when a government fails; it is up to the people to decide what is best for themselves and how they can increase their chances of survival. The same policeman would have no incentive to take bribery in Canada other than greed because the government has taken proper measures to ensure that the policemen are taken care of. Based on this, cultural relativism would argue that the practices in Mexico should not be deemed as wrong because there are legitimate reasons behind them. This argument does not convince me. Bribery would indeed elevate the living conditions of the policemen and possibly the citizens because they do not have to pay fines. However, this is a temporary solution to a much bigger problem because bribery corrupts a community in the long run. The policemen should be given a minimum income that allows them to survive and live somewhat comfortably without being forced to take bribed to make ends meet. This is a job for the government of Mexico and neglecting that has made the policemen corrupt by accepting bribes. A community will only thrive and succeed when it acts upon what is ethically right and wrong.
In conclusion, bribery is just a short-term solution to help improve the living conditions of the policemen in Mexico City. Bribery has the potential to destroy a community if it is not dealt with in the right way. The government must find solutions in putting a stop to this, so the policemen honor their work and are not forced into taking bribes.
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