Friday 15 Oct 2021 | 01:24 | SYDNEY
Friday 15 Oct 2021 | 01:24 | SYDNEY

Rules of thumb for social progress


Sam Roggeveen


13 March 2008 15:04

Andrew Lee Butters of Time Magazine's Middle East blog writes:

One of my favorite -- if obvious -- metrics of the health of civil society in any given place is celebratory gunfire. If locals mark major events like weddings, sporting victories or the start of spring break by shooting off a couple hundred rounds of high-velocity ammunition, it's a sign that at the very least there's something wrong with the police department, if not the social contract.

'Metrics', in this context, is really just another way of saying 'rule of thumb', and it reminded me of one I came up with long ago relating to political and social progress in foreign countries: the more that local police uniforms resemble military uniforms, the less liberal and democratic that country is likely to be.

Needless to say, there's a website for this type of thing.