On page 197, Questions #1, Brusseau says about mordidas “the process actually makes a lot of sense” (page 197).
(a) How? Give what Brusseau says here.
(b) But how could this “cutting out the middleman” fail and breakdown if we tried it here in the US, this way?
In Mexico City, police salaries are extremely low. They live decently enough, though, by adding bribes (mordidas in Spanish) to their wages. During a typical week they pull in bribe money that more or less equals their monthly salary. All the locals know how it works, especially when it comes to the most avid collectors, the traffic cops. In the standard procedure, the officer pulls a car over, takes out his codebook, walks up, and hands it to the driver. Ostensibly, he’s allowing confirmation that the law actually prohibits whatever was done. This is what actually happens: the driver slips about fifty pesos (a little under five dollars) into the book, closes it, hands it back, and is free to go. The practice is so routine that frequently the procedure is abbreviated and participants don’t even bother trying to hide the payoff or going through the codebook pantomime. They may approach the officer’s patrol car and directly drop the money onto the guy’s lap. ] Or they may stay in their own car and just hand cash out to be directly pocketed. Regardless, the transaction is smooth and efficient.
Despite the bribery’s efficiency and its penetration to society’s core, not everyone in Mexico City is happy with the constant mordidas. According to a story in the city’s largest circulation daily, a mayor in one of the suburbs decided to take a lonely stand against the informal police action. Since all the police are in on it, he couldn’t resort to an Untouchables-styled internal affairs operation. And since all the citizens considered the payoffs perfectly normal, he couldn’t appeal to them for help either. Really, he was left with only one choice. To interrupt the habit, he made traffic tickets illegal. His suburb became a free driving zone where anybody could do whatever they wanted in their car and the police couldn’t respond. A lot happened after that, but there’s no doubt that the payoffs stopped.