Access-A-Hut's Blog

November 26, 2011

Musings on culture

Filed under: Uncategorized — by accessahut @ 2:55 am

In Japan, wages are steep and labor was short (at least when I was there in the golden years of the late 80s).  So everything was automated.  Most train stations were left unattended, and you bought your ticket and then dropped it in a basket on the way out.  (Yes, sometimes I got the cheaper ticket, but mostly that was from confusion. Sometimes I got the more expensive ticket, too.) No Japanese person would dream of cheating the system, and gaijin (outside people) were too few to bother about.

I went to the grocery store last night, and it was just the opposite. They actually had someone JUST to weigh the fruit and produce! Then they had human clerks at ALL of the checkout lines.  I asked Lynn, the B&B owner, why they had not started self-checkouts.  She looked at me oddly.  “Because the whole store would be just gone,” she said.  Ahh.  I said. ok.

So…we have:

  •  Japan,  a culture with everyone knowing their place and being in a heirarchy–and those buraku in Japan not a native group recently overthrown, but a part of the same race and culture.  And here labor is expensive, culture is the same, and you can have entire stations and stores automated because you trust the people.
  • The states, with a constant melting pot, an older history of imported slavery and native genocide.  We can go halfway, having a trust but verify check out stand, and still be wary of crime.  And here labor is expensive, cultures differ, and you automate because the lower level of pilferage is cheaper than labor.
  • South Africa, with a very recent past of apartheid and near-slavery, economic genocide of the natives, and a great deal of current poverty.  And here, it is easier to hire three people to do the job, because the scales and machines are much more expensive than the labor.

Just thinkin….

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