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WH Starts ‘Nudge Squad’ Team To Shape Behavior

From Fox News:

Gov’t Knows Best? White House creates ‘nudge squad’ to shape behavior

By Maxim Lott | July 30, 2013

The federal government is hiring what it calls a "Behavioral Insights Team" that will look for ways to subtly influence people’s behavior, according to a document describing the program obtained by FoxNews.com. Critics warn there could be unintended consequences to such policies, while supporters say the team could make government and society more efficient.

While the program is still in its early stages, the document shows the White House is already working on such projects with almost a dozen federal departments and agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture.

"Behavioral sciences can be used to help design public policies that work better, cost less, and help people to achieve their goals," reads the government document describing the program, which goes on to call for applicants to apply for positions on the team.

The Obama administration needs a "Behavioral Insights Team" to nudge us into doing what they want us to do? Having control of the country’s educational system, its news media and its entertainment industry isn’t enough?

The document was emailed by Maya Shankar, a White House senior adviser on social and behavioral sciences, to a university professor with the request that it be distributed to people interested in joining the team. The idea is that the team would "experiment" with various techniques, with the goal of tweaking behavior so people do everything from saving more for retirement to saving more in energy costs…

Such policies — which encourage behavior subtly rather than outright require it — have come to be known as "nudges," after an influential 2008 book titled "Nudge" by former Obama regulatory czar Cass Sunstein and Chicago Booth School of Business professor Richard Thaler popularized the term…

Asked about details, Dan Cruz, spokesman for the U.S. General Services Administration (the department which the team will be a part of) told FoxNews.com: "As part of the Administration’s ongoing efforts to promote efficiency and savings, GSA is considering adding some expertise from academia in the area of program efficiency and evaluation under its Performance Improvement Council."

So that’s a ‘yes.’

Thaler, who is also an adviser to the British Behavioral Insights Team, said that his research also supports automatically enrolling people in retirement savings plans. 

"Many people have struggled to save enough to provide for an adequate retirement. … Two simple design changes can dramatically improve the situation … automatic enrollment (default people into the plan with the option to easily opt out) and automatic escalation, where workers can sign up to have their contributions increased annually," he said…

So ‘automatically’ doing something is now just a ‘nudge’?

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Thursday, August 1st, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

7 Responses to “WH Starts ‘Nudge Squad’ Team To Shape Behavior”

  1. Enthalpy

    Capo di tutti capi -Cass Sunstein. Who better to direct the nudgers of the nudged than Cass Sunstein himself? Cass was the czar of the czars- the godfather. Much of Obama’s blather is the product of Sunstein’s suggested behavior nudging and government knows best claptrap. Obama’s comments last year that “you didn’t accomplish that by yourself…”reflected Sunstein’s philosophy. “On April 14, 1999, Sunstein published an opinion piece in The Chicago Tribune titled “Why We Should Celebrate Paying Taxes.” He wrote: “In what sense is the money in our pockets and bank accounts fully ‘ours’? Did we earn it by our own autonomous efforts? Could we have inherited it without the assistance of probate courts? Do we save it without the support of bank regulators? Could we spend it if there were no public officials to coordinate the efforts and pool the resources of the community in which we live?… Without taxes there would be no liberty. Without taxes there would be no property. Without taxes, few of us would have any assets worth defending. [It is] a dim fiction that some people enjoy and exercise their rights without placing any burden whatsoever on the public fisc. … There is no liberty without dependency. That is why we should celebrate tax day …” Cass has other ideas about “performance improvement,” but the fact that citizen performance is none of his concern is well beyond his level of understanding.

    Now we’re led to believe that the Feds are starting a “Nudge Squad?” What have they been doing all along? What have the czars and President been up to for the last four years? What is this nonsense about consent of the governed? The National Socialist German Workers’ Party nudged segments of its society to shape citizen behavior and how did that work out? **

    ** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....tion_camps

  2. yadayada

    if only it were use on the gubmint to make them more efficient, that would be a beautiful idea we could all endorse. unfortunately we all know it’s not to be used in that way at all.

    Enthalpy – that portion of the article you quoted is a perfect example of how doublespeak is actually coming to fruition.

  3. Rusty Shackleford

    OK, so the first question that comes to my mind is, “Hey, Obama, what modified your behavior over the years that resulted in you acting the way you do?”
    Specifically, I refer to his long list of lies, hiding his past and even that annoying habit of referring to US citizens as “folks”.

    His uber-modern-speak habits are at the very least awkward and at the best, disturbing.

    So, I’d just like to know how he learned all that and what modified his behavior to become that way. With that knowledge, I will endeavor to avoid being exposed to such modification(s).

    As it is, I resist most, if not all, attempts to modify my behavior. I don’t do well with it anyway. It always reveals itself as someone trying to get me to change in ways that I find intrusive and unwelcome. In the military, I went along but knew why and what the source of the “needed” modification was.

    I suppose what I’m driving at is the need of a certain segment of the population to control others seems to be a glaring example of a lacking of their own elf-control. IOW, they just can’t help themselves. YOU mustuse mini-flourescent bulbs or you’ll kill the planet. You must eliminate phosphates from your laundry soap or ditto.

    With the Obamas, it’s more of that and on steroids.

    But one thing has always escaped me about so-called “liberals”: Why is it that they call drug use and unprotected male-on-male sex “legitimate” rights of freedom while saying that carrying a gun is not? Or any other thing I do as a conservative American they seem to consider an “interference of their rights”?

    I guess it has to do with the socialist mind and what “acceptance” is and why it’s important to them vs. why it’s not important to me. For example, I never cares what queers do, so long as they don’t make a big deal out of it and don’t make a spectacle of themselves.

    Now that they have accomplished that very thing, I find it annoying and it makes me have to turn my television off whenever someone starts talking about it. Same with so many “issues” that socialists have concerned themselves with that I find completely unimportant and unworthy of discussion.

    In other words, they have made the personal, public. And they have manipulated the construct of what is personal vs. what is public so badly that we have this other 300lb gorilla in the room known as political correctness, which, I still submit, will assist heavily in the destruction of capitalism in this nation.

    Already, over the years, the numbers of “offended” people, none of whom are white, anglo-saxon straight males, has gone into the ridiculous.

    Gays
    Lesbians
    Blacks
    Hispanics
    Other minorities
    Women
    Transgenders
    Etc., etc.

    So riddle me this, Batman….If all these groups are “Proud” to be whatever-it-is-they-are, then why do they simultaneously claim it as the source of their being victims?

    I mean, if you’re so proud…then just be proud. I’ll admit I’ve never found it particularly important to me to be “proud” of being a white, straight, anglo-saxon male….but I find there are an unlimited number of minorities who seem to think that I am overzealous in my pride.

    That I’m engaging in a “war on women”
    That I hate minorities, gays, muslims, etc.

    Well, ok…I do hate muslims…but I have very good reason to. They keep killing Americans

    But as to the behavior modification, take your Pavlovian textbook and shove it, Mr Obama.

  4. Liberals Demise

    Big brother never sleeps
    Just like rust………nothing good will come of this.
    Eh, comrade?


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