In a heavily regulated economy where risk is largely socialised, the ability to judge and evaluate situations atrophies. People just don't know how to make up their minds about goods and services. This simple fact accounts for much of the difference in societal tone between, for example, the US and the UK. It is noticeable even when comparing the United Kingdom and Japan, where I have seen housewives unwrapping supermarket shirts to test the seams almost to destruction before buying or tossing them contemptuously back on the pile. Such a scene is almost unthinkable in Britain, which is marked by passivity in the face of choices, a pacific willingness to accept the assertions of salesmen, waiters and shopkeepers, a lazy incuriosity about the details of an offered good, and a self-pitying resignation when it proves to be disappointing. All these are British traits, though less marked in some parts than others (Essex is a Little Japan, a Little America in some respects).