Monday, December 9, 2013

More Nudging Coming to the US

NYT reports:
In 2010, Mr. Cameron set up the Behavioral Insights Team — or nudge unit, as it’s often called. Three years later, the team has doubled in size and is about to announce a joint venture with an external partner to expand the program.

The unit has been nudging people to pay taxes on time, insulate their attics, sign up for organ donation, stop smoking during pregnancy and give to charity — and has saved taxpayers tens of millions of pounds in the process, said David Halpern, its director. Every civil servant in Britain is now being trained in behavioral science. The nudge unit has a waiting list of government departments eager to work with it, and other countries, from Denmark to Australia, have expressed interest.

In fact, five years after it arrived in Washington, nudging appears to be entering the next stage, with a new team in the White House planning to run policy trials inspired in part by Britain’s program. “First the idea traveled to Britain and now the lessons are traveling back,” said Professor Thaler, who is an official but unpaid adviser to the nudge unit. “Britain is the first country that has mainstreamed this on a national level.”

Nudging contiues to be advanced by the evil bastard Cass Sunstein. Stripped to its core,nudgig is about giving people two bad choices and saying, "Here's your freedom, choose one."

(ht Ash Navabi)


  1. While I agree Cass Sunstein is an evil bastard for any number of reasons, I think the nudge team's mission is one of the only valid avenues a progressive government SHOULD use to achieve their objectives. For example, implementing a carbon tax or worse yet a cap and trade scheme - which is merely a machine for cronyism and political patronage and corruption - would be a bridge too far. But for the administration to use the power of the bully pulpit, and the nudge team is merely an extension of that power, is fine. And it might get people to do good things like turn off their lights or driving less or whatever it might be. What would NOT BE alright is to go past nudging through the means of the bully pulpit to actual legislation mandating things. So I would keep my ranting and disapproval to the things that matter like outrageously coercive laws that make people do things of dubious value for dubious objectives crafted by dubious people like progressives, and actually steer them toward safer avenues like using the bully pulpit. Just my 2 cents.

    1. Why is turning off the lights or driving less a "good thing"? If it wasn´t subjectively necessary for the people who do it, they wouldn´t do it. "Nudging" them to do otherwise is just making them more miserable, i.e. an evil thing.

  2. Nudging is for metro-sexual progressive girly men.
    When the gulliotenes get rolled out, these nudgers will experience a boot up the butt.

    1. I got a good chuckle out of that. And that may be the case, still, while annoying, the nudging or bully pulpit exercise of executive authoiity is one of the least intrusive and hence most appropriate exercises of power out there