| In 2000, a nursery in Israel had a regular closing time of 6 p.m. With the majority of parents unable to pick up their children by that time, however, an after-hours late fee was assessed every 10 minutes. Yet more parents chose to delay coming for their children. Those who tried to be on time acted as if they had been pardoned by paying fees. The nursery was surprised and abolished the late fee system, but in vain. The system distorted the regulations as more parents took it for granted.
Dan Ariely, professor of Duke University and author of "The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions, " said social norms and market norms motivate people, with the reproductive rate of market norms being greater. He meant that areas under the realm of social norms lose force when exposed to market norms. Market norms are the most excellent system in human history, but only under fair rules. Misapplied market norms hinder the achievement of goals and breaks down existing social norms.
Monday marked the onset of spring according to the lunar calendar but also brought the country`s heaviest snow this year. Snow in mountains and rivers is a beauty but brings heavy inconvenience to a city. Roads were frozen and muddy across the country. Cars were either isolated or experienced accidents. Many people slipped on icy roads and were sent to emergency rooms. Main roads were cared for by municipalities but snow in front of people`s homes were left uncleared. Only stores and buildings that had to greet customers cleaned snow. Market norms were operated but social norms disappeared.
Americans have a strong sense of community. Clearing snow in front of homes is something that residents have to do as liking mowing the grass and raking leaves. The elderly hire young people to clear snow. When the job is finished, people rush to public parking lots to clear snow there. Social norms are stronger than money in the U.S. Some say the American people clear snow for fear of passers-by who could slip and sue the homeowner. To interpret this as a longtime custom is proper. Korea recently established an ordinance requiring snow clearing and is mulling penalties on homes that fail to do. How worrisome that the penalty could end up fueling an indulgence as was the case at the Israeli nursery. Snow clearing is "what money can`t buy" as said by political philosopher Michael Sandel, author of a bestselling book of the same name.
Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (email@example.com)