Speaking of illiberalism, I appreciate the conceit of this Adam Ozimek piece, "Nudges for Paternalist Economists":

"In the wake of Mayor Bloomberg’s propose[d] big soda ban, I have some suggestions for paternalistic nudges for economists who advocate such paternalism. One idea is when they go to a restaurant, by default they should be seated at the table that places them in the most proximity to people near the median income level. Or when they turn on their TVs, have them by default turn to awful TV shows popular with the median household, like America’s Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars, or some poorly written show about cops."

...but I don't agree with the reasoning behind it. Ozimek, that is, wants to nudge economists into greater interaction with the masses so the former may understand that their personal preferences aren't necessarily widely shared. However, eggheads are perfectly aware that their preferences aren't widely shared. That's why they always feel so embattled. They just think their preferences are better, which is why the whole point of "nudging" is to get people to change their behavior without making it obvious to them that a change is being elicited.

So if we're going to nudge paternalist economists, it should really only be for illustrative purposes (or perhaps punitive purposes, but I'm not really big on punishment).

Incidentally, the proposed ban (on sweetened drinks larger than 16 ounces) seems like the opposite of a nudge. It's a clear rule for a clear reason, and Bloomberg is obviously willing to risk taking some knocks for it. Obnoxious, perhaps, but not at all sneaky.
 



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