The shopping cart test of self-governance

January 12, 2022   |   Tags: ,

Gareth was the first person to bring this idea to the attention of the rest of us here at The Price of Liberty. Readers should consider it – fun and with at least some utility.

The shopping cart assessment (SCA) is an attempt to help figure out what individuals are able to govern themselves and do not need involuntary control by government(s). In other words, people who are really adults: who take responsibility for their own actions AND the consequences of those actions. (And work to make those consequences be good ones.)

To put it another way, are they a person who insists that they must have a law (and the force behind that law) to make them do the right thing?

What is the SCA? Simply, at a store: do you return the shopping cart you used to a cart corral or to the store cart area? Or do you leave it outside, in a walking area or empty stall, or – worse, push it off somewhere in the distance? Some people claim it is the ultimate litmus test for those who call ourselves self-governors. Others claim it can help us identify who is a decent member of society. (And others believe it is yet another reason “there oughta be a law.”)

It is simple and can be done in virtually every city and town in the Fifty States with more than a couple of thousand people. All you need is a supermarket or grocery store or dollar store with a paved parking lot and shopping carts. (FYI, it won’t work at an Aldi because you put a deposit on their carts to use them and get it back. Or maybe I should say it won’t work as well.)

There are sometimes it will give a false value of “N” (No) for a few reasons: some severely and physically handicapped people and sometimes when someone has an emergency phone call or an incident that disrupts their normal routine.

Returning a shopping cart is an easy, convenient task (for 99% of us) and one which we all recognize as the correct, appropriate thing to do.

To return the cart is objectively right. There is no religious or political argument over doing so. There are no situations (other than dire emergencies or physical handicaps, generally easily decerned) in which a person is unable to return their cart.

But at the same time, it is not illegal to abandon your shopping cart.

So the shopping cart presents itself as the peak example of whether a person will do what is right without being forced to do it. No one will punish you for not returning the shopping cart: no fines, no jail, no notices of violation for not returning the shopping cart. (You might get some nasty looks, of course.)

But in real terms, you gain nothing by returning the shopping cart. You are doing so out of the goodness of your own heart. You return the shopping cart because it is the right thing to do. Because it is correct. Yes, even for people who have OCD.

To many people, a person who is unable to do this is no better than an animal. Either they are an absolute savage who will only do the right thing by being threatened. Or they are so arrogant and unthinking that they leave it to “menials” (the cart tenders) to do it.

So tell us, is it true that a Shopping Cart is what determines whether a person is a good or bad member of society?

One person’s ideas of a shopping cart assessment!

PS: If someone DOES say, “there oughta be a law” and not just saying so in a teasing manner, what does that make them?


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