I Am a Libertarian Paternalist


Sorry for all the book reviews, but I read a lot when I was in Florida: Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness is a good one for people who are disillusioned with the axioms of liberalism and/or conservatism, and the authors offer a third way of doing things, which they (Thaler and Sunstein) call "libertarian paternalism," which sounds like an oxymoron, until you accept their thesis that there is no way to set up a neutral choice situation, and that all choices are somewhat influenced by the context in which they are made (the book begins with an apt example from a schol cafeteria-- students most often choose food items that are placed first and eye-level, so how do you arrange the food? do you put the healthiest items there? or the most profitable? or is it fairer to do it at random? no matter what you do, you have an influence . . .) and they explain that for many choices -- in the realm of health care, preserving the environment, increasing retirement savings, etc.-- there are ways to increase people's liberty and freedom of choice while also using defaults to nudge people towards decisions that will leade to better lives and a cleaner planet . . . but honestly, their ideas make so much logical sense that I can't imagine America ever implementing them, we'd rather be mired in an eschatalogical red state/blue state battle until the end of time, when God's rapture will finally sort out the sinners from the saved . . . that's just how we roll in America.

6 comments:

zoltan said...

Are their ideas really logical, or did they just put them first and at eye-level in the book?

Dave said...

i'm pretty sure they're logical-- both authors are libras and one was born when the moons of saturn were at apogee, making him a seer.

Al DePantsdowno said...

This is all very interesting, but read this story. This is good.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33990163/ns/world_news-world_faith

Dave said...

that's a good trick. i started "atlas shrugged." pretty good so far but scarily thick.

Whitney said...

Deja vu -- when I inadvertently barged into your fraternity room in college one night, you had the same comment.

Al DePantsdowno said...

You haven't even gotten to the good parts yet. Imagine trying to make a movie out of it.

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