Libertarian paternalism

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Libertarian paternalism - aka choice design or nudging - is better left to the markets. At least that is what Tim Harford, PSD blogger emeritus, argues today in the Financial Times. Money quote:

Libertarian paternalism is now "nudging", as described by Professors Sunstein and Thaler on this page last Wednesday. I asked Professor Thaler to tell me about his favourite nudge and his first response was to describe the urinals in Schiphol airport. They bear etchings of black houseflies, which apparently serve to reduce "spillage".

I am no more in favour of spillage than the man standing at the urinal beside me, but how is this libertarian paternalism? "We recognise your right to wet your shoes, but in case that is not your objective we will structure your choice environment to help you."

The housefly trick is a good idea. But it is not a platform for government...

And in case you were curious, here is a picture of the ingenious fly below the jump, via



Ryan Hahn

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