Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Nudges that I would like to see

Nudges are the big thing this year.  Instead of legislating that people do the “right” thing (in the eyes of our bureaucratic overlords) people are now being nudged. 

"Nudge" is a verb meaning:

1.push or poke somebody: to push or poke somebody gently, usually with a motion of the elbow

2.move something: to move something gently, especially by pushing it slowly and carefully


Here’s the New American:

In an effort to “nudge” Americans to support bigger and more intrusive government while changing behavior to suit the whims of the political class in Washington, D.C., the Obama administration is following the lead of U.K. authorities by building what the White House refers to as a “Behavioral Insights Team.” According to an official document about the scheme aimed at recruiting personnel, the controversial team will be charged with prodding the U.S. population to think and behave in ways that officials deem best on everything from "sustainability" to health and education.

Whereas a traditional Nanny Stater might demand that we recyle, and penalize those who don’t, a nudger might hand out free in-home recycling containers, literature on how much we save by recycling, and prizes for kids who experiment with recycling at the Science Fair. 




Another example: some employers beg, cajole, threaten and scare employees into participating in the 401K retirement plan.  At Jukt Micronics, we take a different approach…..  We sign up everyone, and then send out a memo stating that if you don’t want to be on the 401K plan, you have to fill out some paperwork.  In this case the nudge is a slight hassle to do the wrong thing. 

Here are a few nudges that I would like to see in place, and a few wouldn’t even require major legislation, but they would move the citizenry toward liberty.  (Of course, anyone wanting to remain a slave to the 20500 D.C. zip code inhabitants should be allowed to remain in bondage.) 


1)      Federal Income tax should be paid by the individual, not withheld by the person who happens to be purchasing labor from that individual.  If we get to hold the money in our fat little hands before it is sent to Washington to blow up Syrians, imprison black pot smokers, and subsidize failing schools, we are more likely to vote for smaller government.  Employers who want to continue to act as Obama’s bag man should be allowed to do so.    


2)      Federal income taxes should be paid once a month.  I really like the idea of 60 million American households pulling out the checkbook on October the first and writing a check to the Treasury.  And then doing it again on November the first.   And December the first.   And January the first.  Every month, you gotta write Barack a check.  (There’s a reason that election day and tax day are currently as far apart as possible.)  If households have to write a check each month, they’ll see The Teleprompter Jesus’s “investments” in green /education /infrastructure bullshit in a new and exciting way.  They would be more likely to vote for a different ” investment”  broker.  Preferably one who would leave them and their money alone. 


3)      We are currently in a Two-Party Death Grip.  The thumbs are the Silly Party and the fingers belong to the Stupid Party.   There are people in the Stupid Party who would be willing to vote for a 3rd Party candidate (like Gary Johnson), but they’re afraid that it’ll just help the Silly Party win.  And vice-versa.  If we had a system of approval voting (hit the link), Sillies, Stupids, and Libertarian Sluggards could vote for multiple candidates in each race, and the highest vote total would win.  It would end the “wasted vote” fallacy.  Until we do something to break the Two-Party Death Grip, we’re going to get the government we deserve.  This would cost nothing, it could eliminate expensive primaries, and voters would have a real choice instead of the lesser of two lessers.   Imagine a ballot with Barack, Hillary, Newt, Mitt, Rand Paul, Gary Johnson, a Green, a Constitutionalist, and anyone else who could get signatures or ballot access.  I might vote for Gary and Rand and the Constitution guy.  Someone in favor of debt slavery and war might vote only for Obama and Newt.   The single candidate with the highest total wins. 


4)      Current legislation is usually presented to the public with a price tag, but none of these price tags have a due date.  Wouldn’t it be nice to see  “to be paid in full no later than 12-31-2013” on a spending bill?  Along with some language detailing where the money would come from?  Do you think that might nudge politicians and voters to be more realistic? 


5)      I’ve written before about how my employer, Jukt Micronics, has achieved an astonishing level of racial diversity by the simple expedient of wanting to make a whole lot of money.  The Federal government tries to accomplish this goal by threatening to sue your ass until it glows like a Japanese power plant.  We should nudge employers to hire a wider assortment of minorities by ending all anti-discrimination “protections” for two years.  I promise that employers would be more likely to hire blacks, browns, gays, women, old farts and the handicapped if they couldn’t be sued for replacing the employee if the relationship went bad.  Money is one of the greatest nudgers ever, and if you don't discriminate regarding things that really don't freakin' matter, you have a much better chance of making a pile o' money. 

That's all I got.  Go ye therefore and nudge. 



Buffalo Pete said...

"There's a reason that election day and tax day are currently as far apart as possible."

This is pure gold. I have nothing further to add.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Thank you, thank you.