A Novel Idea

I was thinking about playing by the rules this morning on my way to
work, and how many people don't, and got to wondering what society
would be like if it were stratified according to a person's degree of
law-abidingness. It would have to be externally regulated, I think, to
keep the chaotic evil from taking over, so I figure it would be
sometime in the distant future, when most aspects of daily life are
overseen by some massive, benevolent computer system.

The system would classify people when they became adults, although it
would always be possible to move between strata. People would live in
enclaves according to their status, which would be defined by their

At the highest, or most luxurious, level would be the people who never
break the law even a little - the natural do-gooders who don't even
toss their biodegradeable apple cores into the bushes when no one's
watching. It would be the most luxurious enclave because there'd be no
need for police or security activities, freeing up money for bigger
homes, etc. There would probably be no children allowed, because
little kids aren't very good at following the rules. It would be able
to spend more health care money on preventative treatment and
research, since there'd be no car accidents, no drunken brawls, no
addictions to deal with.

The next tier down would be the biggest, populated by 'regular' people
- folks who drive 10 over the speed limit (20 if they think they won't
get caught), who might keep the money if an ATM slipped them an extra
twenty bucks, but would return a lost wallet with the cash untouched.
There'd be kids here, and nice homes with big yards.

Below that would be the folks who cut in line, pass on the inside
doing 40 over the limit, engage in petty bullying if it will get them
a special deal or better treatment ... and so on, right down to a
region of utter lawlessness where pretty much anything goes and
anarchy (carefully monitored and limited by The System to prevent it
adversely affecting other tiers) reigns. Given the general lack of
cooperative ability at this level, it would be an unproductive
segment, with few amenities - I'm thinking wilderness, occupied by
anti-social hermits and madmen, living hand-to-mouth.

I suspect most of the creative work would be done by the lower tiers -
terribly law-abiding folk don't tend to think outside the box. I
wouldn't want to live in the highest echelon, myself - too boring and

I think the roots of this lie in 'This Perfect Day' by Ira Levin,
which I read at 12 or 13. But this would be a less dictatorial system,
with people able to move between strata by modifying their own
behaviour. It would probably be possible to live in one zone and work
in another.

So, if anyone's looking for an idea for a novel, you're welcome to
this one. All I ask is a little mention in the Acknowledgements.