kicking up is the practice of giving money to somebody on a regular basis simply because their higher position in a structured organisation demands it.
although such payments are not exchanged for goods or services, they are neither donations nor implements in pyramid schemes. organisations that require subordinate members to kick up to their superiors place much emotional investment in the idea of honour; a subordinate member may expect a certain degree of "help" from higher ranked members, who will, in deed, "help" those who pay them, contemplating both their fiscal dependencies and the "help" they received in the past as a result of the same structure (what this "help" entails depends on the nature of the organisation).
the term "kick up" is usually used in the context of criminal systems (e.g. american mafia), and any other use is probably an example of rhetorical analogy likening one organsation to another criminal one.
"you kick up to me, and i kick up to him. that's all you need to understand. if you have a problem, you bring it to me, and i take it to him- this is how this thing works."
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