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The Honour System

  1. Jul 30, 2008 #1

    baywax

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    What happened to the honour system? Did it go out with chivalry and/or the Boy Scouts?

    The honour system was a system where you actually got your product before you paid for it. Like a news paper box that wasn't locked. You pulled out your paper and then paid the cost of the paper.

    Has the system eroded because of rising corruption or for some other reason? Is it because of inflation?

    I mean, honour didn't really rely on the level of corruption as far as I can tell. It was in full swing during the 20s when everyone had a machine gun and used it often. So, what brought on the demise of the system?
     
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  3. Jul 30, 2008 #2

    mgb_phys

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    Newspapers are still sold like that at busy places like airports.
    - You do the risk/benefit anaysis on the proportion of papers stolen vs the cost in extra staff to handle the flow of customers.

    It's actually becoming more common with self service checkouts in supermarkets.
    - interestingly I worked on a study implementing one of these systems, one of the main customer objections was that they would be branded a thief if the system made a mistake and they weren't charged for an item. For a number of customers this was enough of a reason never to use them!
    For those customer the risk of being accused of theft was vastly more damaging than the benefit of time saved.
    For the supermarket the cost of staffing enough checkouts is so high they were not concerned about theft.
     
  4. Jul 30, 2008 #3

    baywax

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    I think the United States is actually a good place to attempt this sort of experiment. Practically every American I've met appeared to have a large sense of integrity and responsibility...
     
  5. Jul 30, 2008 #4

    baywax

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    But then again, I've only met one American banker.
     
  6. Jul 30, 2008 #5

    arildno

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    Eeh?
    In old stores, you went up to the shop assistant and asked for what you wanted. Then HE fetched it from the shelf behind him, and handed it over to you as you paid.

    Nowadays, in the supermarket, you grab your wares, and if you are honest (or at least not stupid), you dutifully present them to be paid for.
     
  7. Jul 30, 2008 #6
    I much prefer the Honor System.
     
  8. Jul 30, 2008 #7

    mgb_phys

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    In fact it's worse than that, you offer a promise to pay them later (cheque/credit card) which you can rescind when you get home.

    I would say the amount of trust, from ebay to credit cards to posting answers on this forum has actually gone UP in modern society.
     
  9. Jul 30, 2008 #8

    baywax

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    All this is an interesting twist to what I perceived to be a society caught in corrosion of ethics. Maybe its because all the dishonourable acts are reported and the honourable ones not.
     
  10. Jul 31, 2008 #9

    baywax

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    However... you say the supermarkets are more trusting? The Boarder guards are just waving everyone through with a smile?

    I don't know what supermarket you go to but the one's I use are surveyed by semi hidden video cameras and the boarders are getting stricter every month. You also have to pass through a detection device at Wal Mart, and all the rest of the big department stores. I don't think store detectives were introduced until the 50s or 60s. And today they have tasers.

    If we looked for remnants of the honour system globally, we would be dismayed. Look at the number of "fail safes" they have in London Eng. A camera on every street corner. And look at the mess "trusting" the average person with a housing loan (and all the fine print) has created.

    In many middle eastern countries you'll be dead if you drive over 40km, or if you carry your bread in a canvas bag. Trust is out the window... and its to the advantage of those who have socially engineered the condition of fear.

    Please turn these observations into evidence of a healthy honour system..!
     
  11. Jul 31, 2008 #10

    mgb_phys

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    There is a lot more (artificial) fear!

    But in the financial transactions you originally mentioned there has been a gradual increase in trust - there has to be to allow more complex transactions to take place.

    It starts with swapping goods, if I give you a sheep in return for a new plow blade there isn't any need for much trust. Then you advance to swapping precious metal coins, then paper money to cheques and credit cards.
    Similairly stock markets, insurance,mortgages all rely on a level of trust. Sometimes that fails, but that is taken into account as part of the cost of doing business.
     
  12. Jul 31, 2008 #11

    baywax

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    The cost of doing (banking business) is equal to the cost of a good insurance policy... is my guess. Or the profit of selling your bank after getting it/establishing it for next to nothing.

    Sometimes I think we didn't win the II WW and that there are forces at work to destabilize what was once a strong and just western alliance. Or are we just doing it to ourselves?
     
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