A few days ago, I saw this story about people being advised to return their library books on time in order to avoid their credit ratings being affected.
I think this is wrong. It’s like telling people not to do stupid things and stick them into Facebook in case their job prospects are affected. I understand that we all have to learn about the consequences of our actions, but I think we have to be careful here about the unintended consequences. If we carry on this way, all we are doing is enshrining the importance of the Eleventh Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Get Caught. It’s worse than that: we are making sure that Fear and Greed remain the only two motivators.
I want to live in a world where people return library books on time because it’s the right thing to do. I want to live in a world where people do things because they’re the right things to do, and don’t do things because they’re the wrong things to do. Right and Wrong are far better motivators than Fear and Greed. So let us concentrate on teaching our children how to figure out what’s right and what’s wrong, rather than learning to differentiate only between orange conical edible objects and wooden weapons.
And in any case I’m not sure that fining is the right thing to do. There must be a better way.
[My thanks to Feibao Production for the illustration].