Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Degrees of lawlessness

Apparently, education does not make you honest.

A recent survey here in Ireland showed that university graduates tend to have significantly less respect for the rule of law than those with only a primary or secondary education. Subjects were queried about such things as tax evasion, speeding, drink driving, littering, buying stolen goods, and making false insurance claims. Mind you, we are not talking about violent crime or habitual criminality.

A distressing result, but not necessarily surprising.

What's going on? Are more highly educated people simply better informed about what they can get away with? Are they more distanced from traditional sources of morality -- church, family, community? Or -- as I'm inclined to believe -- are they generally better off than their fellow citizens, and therefore believe that the ordinary rules of civilized life don't apply? That is to say, it is not education that leads people to shave their integrity, but money.