(Originally Posted: 03/15/98)
Bakshish is a term used during the Byzintine Empire; it means bribe. This money paid out allowed for smooth movement over the caravan routes.
Today, America has its own version of bakshish. It’s called political contributions. No matter how hard conservatives or liberals try to justify taking contributions from PACs or special interest groups, the fact remains that it is bakshish, a bribe.
Americans have diluted their thinking on many matters political. One of the worst is the money contributed to special interest groups. We lie to ourselves, pretending that we are supporting a “cause.” What we are contributing to is a bribe of an elected official. But why should we care? We aren’t the ones giving the money to the politician.
The bakshish flows freely in America, bringing to those who pay, the opportunity to play with the lives others. Isn’t it wonderful to know that your life is being controlled by the bakshish put out by your neighbor to the World Wildlife Fund because he or she wants to protect a baby seal?
Unfortunately, bakshish will be with us as long as men and women love what is six inches long and green. However, its flow can be directed when individuals begin to make more rational, conscious decisions in what they contribute to. This comes with education, not just on an issue, but how an organization will use the money given by donors. But this all assumes that people want to learn. If Americans are only interested in giving away money to asuage their warped conscience, then politicians can bank on receiving more bakshish then they will know what to do with.
So, America, what’s it going to be? Bakshish or brains?