Huh?...(used to invite further comment, or to express a lack of understanding)...
Buddhism does not forbid bribing (if the bribing is not towards an unholy end but to get what is due to one naturally).
I quite understand your surprise. But let me try and elaborate with two prong explanation -
1 ) An Indian Bhante had told me (rightly or wrongly) that precepts cannot override custom unless performing that act is grave mistake. Such as (he had said) many tribals in North East India (where he is from) have small glasses of home brewed toddy (palm wine) with same frequency as we have tea or coffee. They greet guests with toddy, when they get depressed they have toddy, when they are elated they have toddy, when they are stressed they have toddy, when they are relaxed they have toddy. It is the custom.
They have been doing so for centuries, perhaps for millennia. If these tribals convert to Buddhism they cannot be expected to follow the Fifth Precept. According to the Bhante, these people will be reborn in a way that allows them to maintain all precepts if they adhere to whatever precepts they can in this life. He also said that First Precept says do not kill animals, but almost no Buddhist nation is vegetarian. So the precepts are guideposts and not binding for lay people.
Now I have no clue if this is correct or not. Don't shoot the messenger. I maintain the Five Precepts to the best of my ability.
2 ) When you tangle with government bureaucracy in a developing nation you are expected to grease the palm. Otherwise nothing will get done. Let us say you want to build a house and the municipality is expected to approve the design (design done by a licensed architect). If you do not grease palm then your building plan will not be approved. There is no way around it (only where government is concerned). Since in such cases bribery is a "victim less crime" is there any thing which forbids it in Buddhism. Not as far as I understand. Will I not pay ransom if my child was kidnapped? In same way will I not pay bribe if construction of my house was stalled?
Whether bribery can be eradicated by joint and collective effort etc etc is a bigger, broader discussion that is not a part of this Forum. But it is no way a major departure from Right Action.
Let me stick my neck out a little bit. In England healthcare is nationalized. No one has to worry about falling ill. In US burden of medical cost is tremendous. Elderly people in US buy prescription medicine from Canada and it is not legal
. Does it break Buddhist precepts or Eight Fold Path. I do not think so.
In same way I do not think bribery for non violent non criminal reasons is a substantial departure from Eight Fold Path.Not entirely relevant - it is very easy to be the perfect Buddhist, perfect Christian, perfect Gandhian in a nation like Finland where there are plentiful jobs, free education, free healthcare, great social security, unending unemployment benefits, no corruption (there is 10% unemployment but the unemployment benefits more than make up for any financial loss).
Imagine it this way - A Brit or a Finn only worries if a near and dear one is going to live or die if they have cancer; an American or an Indian has to worry if they will live or die and if the difference between living and dying is bankruptcy (basis of Breaking Bad). Obviously the Brit will do better at work and meditation because they are not plagued by worry of ill health of family members all the time.
It is difficult to maintain such a pure, innocent, unblemished life in Somalia, Nigeria, Afghanistan or Syria (last 4 years).
Whether you are able to maintain a pristine life depends on a lot of external factors does it not.
P.S to next comment by NoBSBuddhist - my knowledge of British NHS comes mainly from internet and Michael Moore's documentary "Sicko". I maybe wrong. But I heard you guys do not have to worry about falling ill in same way as we and Americans do.