‘With the passage of centuries, whole cultures of malfeasance came and went, bringing with them innovative approaches to influence-peddling. The Ming dynasty of China saw the proliferation of so-called “elegant bribery,” through which gifts of artwork, snuff bottles, and sumptuous calligraphy came to adorn the homes of the freshly greased. In our own time, disgraced public officials have shown a willingness to accept yachts, mortgage payments, car services, and prostitutes in exchange for the use of their offices. And that’s just from the file on Duke Cunningham.’
From A Brief History of Bags of Cash by Kevin Mahnken in the New Republic, April 30, 2013.