Traffic jams and spontaneous order… In Germany

Remember my post about letting people in front in a traffic jam? I recently returned home from a short family trip to Germany and there I witnessed the solution, and I thank Hayek for coming up with the theory to explain the phenomenon.

See, in the northern part of Germany where I was, I noticed that it was an unwritten rule of thumb to always let in one car in front of you. This worked really well, with both lanes accepting it, and behaving accordingly without taking advantage or offence.

As far as I know, there is no direct law concerning this. Therefore it is what Hayek called a spontaneous order. Spontaneous orders are orders that are shaped by human actions in social contexts, but without the coercive force of government or other type of planning and without external enforcing, like a police force. They tend to be highly efficient, as in this case.

Unfortunately I live in Denmark and not Germany, where this rule has not emerged. I believe these two nations to be very alike culturally. The only main difference is that the Danish state is huge and involved in incredible many aspects of the life of its subjects. That is not beneficial for the emergence of social orders. They need freedom, even a little chaos, to evolve. The other path, that of violent government planning, is not able to account of the multitude of situations that spontaneous order typically do, and they need enforcement, where spontaneous orders comes natural, as all will likely on average benefit equally. After all, you do not know where in the morning rush hour traffic you might end up.

So thank you Germany for solving the issue… And thank you dear reader for taking the time to read this.


Letting in traffic squared

I drive a lot. Mainly to and from work. This means I drive a lot in rush hour traffic. In a mayor European capital to boost. Anybody who does this, knows that you are hard pressed not to ones in a while rely on the kindness of strangers in letting you into a exit lane that you missed. Anybody with an ounce of humanity in them will understand the urgency of this need; because if a kind soul does not let you in front them, the resulting detour will easy cost you half an hour, while letting you in will cost the kind stranger 30 secs (that is still not a price to be ignored or devalued… I did in fact steal/was gifted them from someone now worse off).

First off; A BIG FREAKING THANK YOU! to all that have ever let me in front of them. You rule! Please believe me when I say that I feel really grateful and spent a lot of energy the rest of day trying to repay the universe the Karma I must owe for this gesture of friendliness from a stranger. Not least, because I always feel bad that maybe you thought I was trying to cheat my way ahead, and still you saw passed that and properly figured that if I did indeed try to cheat you can still spare me the 30 secs if that makes me somehow better off. Wow!

Now here is my question to you dear reader however. And please help, cos I am lost here. If you have been let in by a kind driver, are you then suppose to also let in someone in front of you if this need materializes?

Are you compelled to continue the precise nice gesture shown to you? Let the spirit of the act ignite new ones?

Or, are you now obliged to be the bad guy and make sure no one gets let in front of you, and thereby the kind person behind you? I mean you did just take 30 sec from the driver behind you, who are you to make that a minute? Two? Ten?

Have a nice day. I am happy you took the time to read this and maybe help solve the issue.