Social sanction is a force that our policy makers, in the thrall of economic thinking, have neglected for too long. It really is effective. I once visited Calgary, in Canada, and on my first day experienced a “chinook,” which is a balmy wind that raises the temperature into the fifties in winter. The temperature dropped from there to about ten below in about two hours. I was downtown, waiting to cross the street, and freezing to my bones. The signal said “Don’t walk” but there were no cars coming. Of course I crossed.
Did I say “of course”? The people waiting patiently on the other side did not feel that way. In Calgary, I grasped quickly, you do not cross against the light. Their stony disapproving glares cut through me like the artic wind. Nobody said a word. For the rest of my visit, which was about a week, I waited patiently along with everyone else. (I also paid my fares on the city’s transit system, which was on the honor system.)