When Is It Safe to Thumb Your Nose?
By Bryan Caplan
Modern parents’ depend primarily on the
market, not other parents – to meet their needs – and parent-on-parent
sanctions are small and sporadic in any case.
How far Bryan will take this argument? What other common social
norms do people worry too much about, because in fact school or work
will never know, friends and family hardly notice or care, and
neighbors don’t matter? For example, do people worry too much about
clothes they wear, or swear words they utter, at home, while shopping,
or at the park? Or if someone felt inclined to torture small animals
(legally), would informal social sanctions among friends and family
really offer little barrier to openly pursuing this hobby? And if
animal-torture would go too far, where exactly is the line?
My specific answers:
1. Clothes. If you’re single or on-the-job, keep worrying. If you’re married and off-the-job, suit yourself – and your spouse.
2. Swearing. If swearing bothers you or the person you’re with, don’t do it. Otherwise, you’ve got almost nothing to worry about.
3. Animal-torture. Imprudent in front of almost anyone. It’s so extreme, word will spread and there will be blowback.
My general answer: I can’t define the line. But as long as you keep your personal and work life separate, you can almost always ignore career consequences. And if you’re married, “keep your spouse happy” is 95% of what you need to know.