Monday, February 11, 2013

Take Your Punishment

In about 1990/91, frustrated at the behaviour of an eleven year old son, not wanting to smack and yet failing to generate a sense of discipline, one of us had the bright idea of sending him into the garden as a punishment and telling him to beat himself up.

He threw himself into this with entertaining gusto. He punched himself until he fell to the ground and grabbed his own legs and wrestled with them leaving the rest of the family, including Alex the labrador, laughing through the window. Better, junior got out of his system whatever energy it was that previously had been misplaced.

It became a mantra of ours when over-exuberance led to mischief for the next few years, until one day it was used on me by the wife and at that point clearly had to stop.

I had forgotten all about it until recently when RBS, a bank which is 81% publicly owned, was fined £400m for LIBOR fixing. I think we have sent ourselves into the garden and told us to beat ourselves up. We are criminal, judge, jury and jailer. Brilliant.

I commend it as a parenting strategy but not for high-level economics.

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