How do we encourage decent behaviour?

I’ve worked in countries that were communist, those that still have dictatorships and generally prefer western democracy.  Our cops are better.  Otherwise I’m not sure what the economic system claims to be matters much.  One of my favourite fictional detectives is Harry Bosch (Michael Connelly) and his working motto is ‘either everyone counts, or nobody does’ – this means that the little old lady who is a victim matters as much as the President.  What matters to me in a political-economic system is the extent we can work for each other in this manner.  I’ve seen it done everywhere from the coldest moral climate in Eastern Europe to Islamic dictatorships.  Sadly, it’s in decline in my own country as cops leave people to drown in shallow ponds, and all kinds of other ‘professionals’ go jobsworth over Baby P and more.

What we need is a system that encourages and supports this.  I suspect, if we could list 100 features of democracy-capitalism and rule out about 5 of them, we’d be close.  Harry Bosch would be on the trail of banksters and missing trillions, given the chance, whilst still sorting out the disabled family having gang trouble!  Gadget-Knacker-Serpico-Maigret are sadly too often doing neither.  This is not because the cops themselves are the kind of people who wouldn’t – so what is the problem?  The easy answer is the system, but that’s like the simple question ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’ – you have to write the theory of economics to answer it.


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