Nudgers vs. Nannies

The civil war between British busybodies

There’s a new divide amongst Britain’s political classes, an explosive war of words over the future of our nation. It’s not the left-right divide come back from the dead, nor is it an old-fashioned prince-pauper split or a return of the roundhead-cavalier clash that so dramatically transformed Britain in the 17th century.

No, the divide today is between nudgers and nannies. Between those who believe the fat, feckless masses should be nudged towards better, healthier behavior and those who believe the fat and feckless should be nannied towards better, healthier behavior.

Yes, the nation that gave you a civil war between parliamentarians and a king, which staged a major stand-off between the elected Commons and the unelected Lords in the early 1900s, which had the world gripped with its war between the helmet-haired Iron Lady and angry striking miners in the 1980s, now offers you the sad spectacle of politicos divided on the question of how best to hector the populace. How low British politics has sunk.

Our prime minister David Cameron leads the nudgers. He has a distinctly Orwellian-sounding Behavioural Insight Team inside Downing Street, which furnishes him with ideas for how to nudge the “illogical” masses (its word) towards the kind of lifestyle approved by Cameron’s government: non-smoking, alcohol-free, slim, safe, and no fun.

Public health officials and their cheerleaders in the media lead the nannies. They believe Cameron’s obsession with nudging, with using subtle signals and mind manipulation rather than legislation to try to wean people off junk food, cigarettes, and so on, leads only to neglect. Without actual legislation forcing people to become more health-conscious, there will be “a surge in obesity and mass poisoning [through the consumption of booze and junk food]”, says one of the media supporters of the nannies.

Cameron’s nudgers are, of course, leading the field in this uncivil war over how to remould people’s minds and bodies. Having taken Downing Street in this year’s general election, the nudgers promise to override the previous 13 years of New Labour nannying, which including smoking bans, legal restrictions on junk-food advertising, anti-booze measures, and relentless and patronizing public-health advice. And they plan to override it, not with liberty, or with a renewed respect for individual moral autonomy, but with a political creed that is if anything even more insidious and allergic to the idea of individual responsibility than nannying ever was: nudging.

Inspired by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s Nudge: Improving Decisions About Wealth, Health and Happiness—that blasted book!—Cameron set up a Behavioural Insight Team (BIT) when he arrived at Downing Street in May. With Thaler and various psychologists as advisers, the BIT brain cops aim to use social psychology and behavioral economics to hypnotize people into adopting approved forms of behavior.

According to BIT propaganda, the nudgers plan to do away with the old-style Blair-and-Brown bossiness in favor of offering incentives, using subliminal messaging, and changing the “choice architecture” of our daily lives, in order to influence us, sometimes sub-consciously, towards what they call “healthier decisions and healthier lives.” So, for example, instead of using taxes to make driving of cars more expensive, as New Labour did, the nudgers will focus on rebuilding public spaces in such a way that choosing to walk or ride a bicycle becomes easier than it currently is. In short, they’ll physically re-engineer public space with an eye for socially engineering those who inhabit it.

Some of BIT’s propaganda is gobsmackingly Orwellian. Even the name—Behavioural Insight Team—sounds like something Big Brother might have devised to keep Winston and Julia and the rest in order and in shape. BIT is built on the idea that the mass of the population lacks both the intellect and the free will to become better persons, and thus they must be secretly signposted towards approved behavior. A Cabinet Office paper explaining the importance of developing nudge policies argues that “people are sometimes seemingly irrational” and therefore the state should “influence behaviour through public policy.” And because many of our behavior-related choices are made “outside of conscious awareness,” there is no point trying to convince us through public information to change our behavior—no, we must simply have our grey matter toyed with by those who know best. “Providing information per se often has surprisingly modest and sometimes unintended impacts”, says the Cabinet Office paper, and therefore government should “shift the focus of attention away from facts and information and towards altering the context in which people act.”

In short: never mind reasoning with people, just use pressure instead. Forget about debate and discussion, just deploy underhand nudging techniques. This is not only profoundly illiberal, it is profoundly undemocratic, as the nudgers explicitly circumvent the realm of information and law in their relentless campaign to reshape our apparently problematic consciousnesses.

Most strikingly of all, the Cabinet Office paper informs us that the government ultimately aims to be a “surrogate willpower” for the public. Because we the people are so fickle, so clueless, so fundamentally unconscious in the way we poison ourselves with cigarettes and hamburgers, the government must become our will. It’s straight out of Nineteen Eighty-Four, bringing to mind O’Brien, the jailor who tortures Winston and who says: “We create human nature. Men are infinitely malleable.” Likewise, Britain’s ruling nudgers look upon the public as putty, as an easily reshaped blob.

Fortunately, a war of words has been launched against the nudgers. Unfortunately, it’s been launched by the ousted nannies, who only want to recover their old power to legislate against so-called bad behavior.

In the run-up to Christmas, that apparently wicked and destructive period of overeating and too much booze consumption, the nannies have come out of the woodwork to accuse Cameron’s government of failing to force through an immediate campaign to correct people’s behavior.

Under the headline “Nudge or Fudge?”, the Independent tells us that more and more public-health officials, influential doctors, and the like, are concerned that “tougher regulation of junk food, smoking and cheap alcohol [has been] cast aside by a government that prefers to ‘encourage’ public health.” Apparently such “encouragement” (which looks more like attempted mind-manipulation to me) is not enough; people must instead be forced to change their habits through bans and the threat of legal sanction.

So a spokeswoman for the British Medical Association says “what we need to see is more action on pricing, taxation and advertising.” That is, we should make bad things such as cigarettes and alcohol more expensive, to keep them out of the hands of the self-destructive poor, and we should curb or ban adverts for these bad things as well.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • sevo||

    There's a reason the US rebelled against England.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Meanwhile, a smoking ban in bars and restaurants took effect in St. Louis County three days ago.

    These creeps are everywhere.

  • ||

    When the anti-smoking campaigns started some years back, these groups promised that they weren't interested in trying to stop smoking at bars, eateries and nightclubs.

    Turns out they were liars. Shocking.

  • ||

    Yeah when that whole movement started, we smokers told the fatties to look out, and we were laughed at.

    "First they came for the smokers . . ."

  • Patriot Mike||

    I spent the first 21 years of my life breathing 2nd hand smoke. I have no sympathy for smokers now. BTW, bars and restaurants have to have fire exits, safe kitchens, can't use nuclear power in their basements, etc. Why the uproar over a proven killer, when there are hundreds of regulations they have to follow? Fucking nicotine addicts.

  • Destrudo||

    The fact that you are full of bile because mommy and daddy didn't love you enough to not blow smoke in your face growing up doesn't give you the right to tell other people what to do with their property.

  • ||

    "proven killer"

    (citation needed)

  • Ska||

    Dude, my grandfather died of a heart attack at age 79 - and he lived with a few smokers back in his army days. See, secondhand smoke will totally kill you.

  • Patriot Mike||

    Ska, everyone has a relative who lived to be 261 yrs old while smoking 1,000 cigs a day. It's called the exception to the rule. Until the mid 1980s they smoked in offices, hospitals, elevators, etc. Sorry, can't find the sympathy.

  • ||

    proven killer

    Does the fact that this canard is repeated ad nauseam constitute proof?

  • Realist||

    Yes, canards are always true!

  • DADIODADDY||

    even the base ones?

  • ||

    Sorry about that, there's no excuse for someone forcing 2ndhand somke on a child who can't choose to go elsewhere. Please don't paint all of us with that brush. I wont even smoke around animals.

    Businesses can decide for themselves whether to allow smoking. Non smokers will vote with their feet and $.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Me too, my mom smoked and I hated it. It killed her.

    But the only thing worse than that is stripping property owners of their rights to do what they wish with said property.

  • ||

    That sucks PMike, that your parents were such sadists that they physically prevented you from leaving home for 3 years all the while blowing evil ciggie smoke at yer mug.

    I'd call the police and charge them with kidnapping. Maybe you should seek some counseling, you seem to have anger and resentment issues.

  • some guy||

    Prevented him from leaving home for at least 5 years I would say. That kind of abuse would be grounds for early emancipation!

  • sevo||

    "I have no sympathy for smokers now."
    And I have no sympathy for statist assholes

  • ||

    But you repeat yourself.

  • ||

    Wait, you're still alive?!??! How is that possible?

  • ||

    He's a ghost, Brandy.

    "Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing
    To what I shall unfold."

  • Anonymous Coward||

    uproar over a proven killer

    In the same way that sailing off the edge of the Earth was once a proven killer.

    At least mention something about doing it for the children. Lazy ass.

  • Patriot Mike||

    A county in Kentucky that banned smoking in bars saw a 40% drop in heart attacks.
    Let's say we're sitting together having coffee. I pull out my heroin, and when you look away, I inject you with a dose. You'd have no problem with me forcing my drug into your body? Remember when the smoked in airplanes? Smokers don't give a rat's ass about anyone's private property rights.

  • Wind Rider||

    PreMenstral, you're overlooking the leading cause of death, for all time. Life. Now you go off and live your little bitter one over there, and leave the rest of us the fuck alone. kthxbye.

  • Patriot Mike||

    WR, can I kill you to prove my point?

  • Patriot Mike||

    BTW, most of my family died from smoking related diseases. That was their choice. I had no choice when they smoked. With freedom comes responsibility. Die from smoking, or whatever, if that's your choice. Keep your drug to yourself.

  • Wind Rider||

    Yeah, I'm so bored at this point that I'm spending my time uselessly commenting on the internet, so take your best shot, buckwheat. At least I'll find out the answer that every other dead person has had a glimpse of.

    But no, you get no sympathy/pity/empathy points by invoking the personal choices of those around you in earlier years as an excuse to try and enforce your neat and nice little view of how the fucking world should work upon others who disagree with your personal pet peeves. Fuck off, statist.

  • Patriot Mike||

    Ok, you've convinced me. Freedom without responsibility.

  • Cosmo Kramer||

    Look away, I'm hideous.

  • Patriot Mike||

    Oh, and I didn't start the indoor smoking ban. But I am enjoying it, and all the smokers who blew smoke in my face over the years, go fuck yourselves.

  • DADIODADDY||

    we're all coming to your house to hold you down and blow smoke in your face...then the wedgies...cue evil laugh...

  • Mr. FIFY||

    You have no business using the word "patriot" in your screen name, Mike.

  • Jill||

    "Freedom without responsibility."

    When you saw the first (citation needed). You had the freedom to act responsible but, you blew smoke up our ass anyway.

  • ||

    A county in Kentucky that banned smoking in bars saw a 40% drop in heart attacks.

    Try harder.

    http://reason.com/blog/2010/12.....dy-finds-n

    Let's say we're sitting together having coffee. I pull out my heroin, and when you look away, I inject you with a dose.

    Are you seriously this deluded to equate an assault with directly and voluntarily exposing yourself to smoke?

    You'd have no problem with me forcing my drug into your body?

    Yes. How is this at all similar to deliberately exposing yourself to cigarette smoke? Are you saying that you're incapable of recognizing the existence of smoke in a bar?

    Smokers don't give a rat's ass about anyone's private property rights.

    And this is relevant because...

  • Patriot Mike||

    You've never worked in an office where smoking was allowed? I wish I had your luck.

  • ||

    Nope. But you agreed to work there, correct?

  • Marc St. Stephen||

    Patriot Mike, why are you even here? I can't think of a better or more basic example of Libertarian philosophy than opposing government prohibition of the use of a legal product, like tobacco, on private property - a place where no one is forced to work or visit; an activity that is easily seen and avoided. And stop using "Patriot", it's insulting.

  • Ted S.||

    You'd have no problem with me forcing my drug into your body?

    I have a huge problem with you forcing your statism drug into my body.

  • sevo||

    Mike|1.4.11 @ 2:08PM|#
    "A county in Kentucky that banned smoking in bars saw a 40% drop in heart attacks."

    Bullllllllllllllllllll
    shit.

  • Robert||

    The only objections to fire exits and the like are their expense. It's not as if anybody prefers danger per se. However, lots of people do like smoking per se.

  • Mike M.||

    Everyone smoker in the country should just put their cigarette out...in a liberal's eye.

  • Realist||

    Woe that is a big surprise!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    They're in the southwest part of the state, too, Jeffersonian. The "One Air Alliance" is desperately trying to impose its will on the third-largest city in the state as we speak.

    Fuck the busybodies, no matter where they live.

  • Michelle Obama||

    I like where this is headed!

  • hp cart||

    This is not the cause behind US rebelling against England.

  • nekoxgirl||

    Thank you great-great-great-great-great grandparents, for deciding to move across an ocean to get away from these crazy people.

  • Almanian||

    But where do we go when their ideas take over here? Cause they will. WHERE DO WE GO!???

    *looks around, terrified*

  • some guy||

    The Moon or Mars. Should provide safe haven for at least a few generations...

  • Caption Contest!||

    A toast to hackneyed pastey incest survivors everywhere!

  • ||

    And another to feckless upper-class adulterers!

  • DADIODADDY||

    what is the opposite of feckless? feckfull?

  • ||

    fecked

  • ||

    Good afternoon and welcome to Hurlingham Park. You join us just as the competitors are running out onto the field on this lovely winter's afternoon here, with the going firm underfoot and very little sign of rain. Well it certainly looks as though we're in for a splendid afternoon's sport in this the 127th Upperclass Twit of the Year Show.

  • Destrudo||

    Now all they have to do here to win the title is to shoot themselves. Simon has a shot. Bad luck, he misses. Nigel misses. Now there's Gervaise, and Gervaise has shot himself - Gervaise is Upperclass Twit of the Year!

  • Solanum||

    Oliver has run himself over!

  • ||

    And the crowd are rising to him there,and there I can see, who is that there, yes that's Nigel, Nigel has woken the neighbor - my God this is exciting.

  • ||

    Oliver has run himself over!

    Oh, you didn't mean Jamie Oliver. Too bad.

  • ||

    "Oi! See that I don't crack your fookin' 'ead!"

  • Almanian||

    Let's have at it and whatnot! Good show and all that! Give her what for and so on! I say, this is cracking good fun!

    Yes, yes indeed! Wha...what's all this then?! Where am I.....?

    *wanders off, bewildered*

  • Almanian||

    Caption 2

    "Nigel? Nigel Watson-Farqhurson III? Is that you?

    Yes! Yes, it is you! Percival Fortescu Smythe here! Dreadfully good to see you, Nigel, I must say! Capital!"

  • ||

    It's spelled "Luxury Yacht" but it's pronounced "Throat-Warbler Mangrove"

  • Rock Action ||

    Wait 'til he finds out my tooth in somewhere in that drink! See how the rotter smiles then, right?

  • Rock Action ||

    *is

    Damn.

  • ||

    and no fun

    That's the thing about these fucking statists: whether left, right, or completely unmoored, they all hate the idea of us commoners relaxing and having a little fun. Why? Shit, it's not as if most of us can really afford (in terms of time or money) to have all that much fun, so why the fuck do they have to try to take even the littlest pleasures from us?

  • Jeffersonian||

    Macaulay put his finger on it when he said that the Puritans didn't oppose bear-baiting because it tormented a poor animal, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.

  • ||

    The most troubling fact is that the rationalization for all of the actions of nannies and nudgers is that bad behavior costs us more in healthcare costs. However, cigarette smoking has been shown to be a money saver in some studies, since people die before their most expensive health care years. Also, the health care costs of obesity amount to just 7% of healthcare costs in the usa. Yes, 7% is significant, but even if I snapped my fingers and made all of the fat people into skinny people, your healthcare bills would still be pretty much the same. Guess what, your medical bills are only 55 grand in stead of 60 grand! What a relief! Not to mention that achieving such a goal as lofty as making all of the fat people skinny won't be free either.

    You combine that with the freedoms lost and it just doesn't seem worth it in my book.

    OH yeah, they do tend to mention other "social costs" when making the case that bad behavior costs too much money. However, the non medical social costs are nonsense like, "Decreases in productivity." I'm sorry, but we don't exist to be good little slaves.

  • ||

    I just wondering how healthy and productive people will really be in the life the nannies have planned for us. I think it would be bleak, dull, and just plain not worth it. How productive is that?

  • Jeffersonian||

    Don't be silly, EES, the State will simply order us to buy things it has determined lead to fuller, happier lives.

    Think ahead, son!

  • Commerce Clause||

    ME, bitches!

  • Wind Rider||

    Ok, so the British are basically squabbling about some way to keep useful employment for the fifth man in the artillery crew - the one who held the horse that pulled the gun carriage - after the elimination of horses. That seems to be the basic point here.

    Since the twits are too unimaginative to realize they're having a pointless argument in the first place, with the nannies still hell bent on continuing in the best traditions of William Bligh to make the public mend their ways, but the nudgers seemingly more interested in 'keeping up appearances', but actually being much less fascistic than the health fuhrers, I'm not sure if it shouldn't, at least in the short term, be considered a modest 'win'. Have to ask my correspondent in East Anglia to toddle on down to the local pub, have a few pints, and discuss this with the locals for some additional insight.

  • ||

    That is a slur on William Bligh. Bligh was lenient (for his time).

    He was also a damn good sailor.

  • Wind Rider||

    A damned good sailor would have gotten the breadfruit plants to the West Indies. Just sayin.

  • ||

    You try navigating 3,000 miles on the open ocean with a dozen men in a small boat and only a sextant.

    Not his fault that Christian was a pansy.

  • Wind Rider||

    Not my gig, man, not my gig. Pretty loose with the term 'navigating', as there are damned few places in that area of the Pacific where you can't go 3K miles without spotting some sort of island, if you just head off with the trades and tides. And being left with no other choice but to do or die doesn't excuse the prior buttheadedness that got his command ghe-fucked to begin with. Usually doesn't help matters when you've already damn near killed the entire crew out of pig headed obstinacy.

  • ||

    He didn't just "spot an island". He was aiming for, and got to, Timor.

    He was much less brutal than the typical commander (in ANY Navy) of the time. The fact that his crew got too accustomed to the pleasures of Tahiti and did not want to go back to the life of a British seaman once they left Tahiti did not make him brutal or obstinate.

    Bligh wsa later commended for his actions in the Battle of Copenhagen by none other than Nelson. He also engaged 3 Dutch ships while commanding The Director inflicting heavy damage on the enemy while suffering only light casualties among his men.

    Overall, a damn fine seaman and commander.

  • DADIODADDY||

    and wouldn't have butt-fucked Mr. Christian quite so often as to make him mutiny

  • Robert||

    The breadfruit were just a cover for the real mission, and I bet Bligh knew it.

  • ||

    But he was a mutiny magnet.

  • ||

    Probably because he was lenient for his time.

  • ||

    That's what the Board of Inquiry found.

    But I believe PL is referring to the fact that there was a second Bligh mutiny.

  • Wind Rider||

    Well, the Board of Inquiry was only supplied with his version of what happened, and was stuck with the classic 'hang 'em or pin a medal on 'em' quandry, and would quite probably have preferred that none of them had ever been heard from ever again, at all, so they wouldn't have to deal with it, outside of occasional uninformed speculation and toasts to the bravery of the lost ship and crew over brandies and cigars. The fact that Bligh survived the ordeal at all was likely a damned inconvenience for everybody.

  • ||

    There were other witnesses, so I don't think it was totally based on his say-so.

  • ||

    Yep, the Rum Rebellion.

  • ||

    I think it's been pretty well established by historians that Fletcher Christian was an utterly contemptible thug.

    On the other hand John MacArthur was just trying to make a buck. But there was wrong on both sides there. Bligh as Governor of New South Wales was trying to enforce British colonial law which was essentially restraint of trade in favor of the established moneyed class of England while MacArthur and his cronies were trying to establish there own monopoly controlling the rum trade.

  • Robert||

    Still better than the fate of Henry Hudson, I think.

  • Sinic||

    ...the foul, and most foreign, British.

  • Dat_Truth_Hurts||

    While you are at it, nudge them some toothbrushes.

  • ||

    Speaking of which, what kind of dental services are available under the NHS? I ask because it seems like everyone I know over 40 has some stage of periodontal disease (they can treat it now, or at least hold it at bay, whereas a few generations ago most people just ended up with dentures at a certain point). Treating it usually involves some out-of-pocket payment. So in a single payer system can you even get decent dental services? Is there a shortage of dentists? It seems to me the (well deserved, from what I see) reputation Brits have for having bad teeth might be due to 1) all the starch and sugar in their diet, as well as 2) lack of availability of dental services.

  • Free Dentures for All||

    "Dentist Shortage hits Millions"

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7189448.stm

    that is from back in 08... now who knows how bad it is

  • ||

    At least in the late '80s and early '90s when I lived in Scotland, the dentists did not work directly for the NHS. You could see the dentist as an NHS patient or as a private patient. I always saw my Brit dentist as a private patient. When I need a root canal, I paid for and recived a root canal. The dentist told me that had I had been an NHS patient, that he would have pulled the tooth becuase the NHS would only pay him enough for the time to pull the tooth.

  • Brett L||

    So the fat and feckful just get a pass? These guys are total feckists

  • nanda||

    First liberals destroy the philosophies and institutions that make people able to practice self control, overriding natural reticence, morality, notions of decency or fitting conduct. Then after everyone has totally absorbed “do your own thing, do whatever you want, eat and drink as much as you want, your only duty in life is to satisfy yourself, inhibition of any kind is oppressive” liberals realize that something has gone wrong and try to remedy the wrongs they brought about. But the remedy is the same thing that caused the harm to begin with, the interference of so called experts wielding the power of big government, now trying to force people in behavior that they did not used to be need to be forced into.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Masterful.

  • nanda||

    England breaks my heart. We get most of our ideas of freedom, liberalism, rights, what we call civil society, tolerance from there. But all these things which seemed so great now have gone to such extremes that England is a country of increasing crime and disorder, illegitimacy (I know liberals can’t stand it, but marriage and fatherhood matter, and there is none of the latter without the former), mental illness, more and more areas where the police dare not go, and I’m not talking about “minorities” or immigrants, but the native population. The once proud and patriotic and law abiding working class that Orwell lauded is now a total irresponsible mess. Orwell was a lefty but he liked his country (and us) and he took it for granted that there would always be an England, just better. Well he was wrong. There won’t always be an England, since apparently it is going to be an Islamic/African/third world nation in a few decades. This is the tragic aspect of liberalism which seems to inevitably lead to the extinction of the liberal and only westerners are liberal. A moral breakdown accompanied by extreme sensitivity towards other groups that make the west unable to defend its own culture.
    Africa will be there and China and India and the Islamic world, but western europe seems likely to go. I’m sick about it.

  • ||

    I don't see how nationalized medicine could produce anything but a nanny state--and I'd expect it to be worse here in the States.

    It's the flip side of "No taxation without representation"--because I'm paying for it, I get a say in whatever I'm paying for...

    So, if I'm paying for everyone else's healthcare--then I get a say in the decisions everyone else makes about their health! ...and that includes diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, and a whole world of other activities too!

    Really, once I'm forced to pay for you--and the results of whatever you decide to do--don't expect me to sit on the sidelines about what you do with yourself and happily, gleefully cheer you on while you consume whatever you want.

    Reasonable people have to crimp their expectations of freedom when they're all being forced to pay for each other--and if that's not the world you want to live in, then you shouldn't condone forcing people to pay for each other's healthcare.

  • Jeffersonian||

    So we come to Hobbes' war of all against all by imposition of Leviathan rather than the lack of Leviathan.

    I wonder if this ever occurred to him?

  • BakedPenguin||

    "So, is your wife a goer? Know what I mean, nudge nudge?"

  • Almanian||

    A nod's as good as a wink to a blind man, eh?

  • Thomas O.||

    I was wondering if anyone was gonna make the obvious reference. :D

  • ||

    Well, she's from Purley . . .

  • ||

    Say no more !

  • Thomas O.||

    Photographs, eh? Nudge nudge, snap snap, grin grin, wink wink, say no more?

  • ||

    So, on one side we have Orwellian busy-bodies out to manipulate the population into mindless obedience like programmed robots. And then we have the less freedom-loving side.

  • cynical||

    On the one hand, people that want to control your actions. On the other, people that want to control your mind.

    And if the mind-controllers fail, that's just proof that the action-controllers were right all along, and freedom doesn't work. Freedom means the freedom to be wrong. Goddamn sad.

  • Brian||

    The nudgers are alive and well here too. Google "Social Marketing". Of course mere marketing techniques are used for many purposes, not just to sell you toothpaste...

  • Anonymous Coward||

    So, for example, instead of using taxes to make driving of cars more expensive, as New Labour did, the nudgers will focus on rebuilding public spaces in such a way that choosing to walk or ride a bicycle becomes easier than it currently is. In short, they’ll physically re-engineer public space with an eye for socially engineering those who inhabit it.

    I'm going to invoke the Law of Unintended Consequences for this scheme of forced walking/social contact.

    A housing project in St. Louis called Pruitt-Igoe used to have an elevator system called a "skip-stop." The elevator would only stop at the first, fourth, seventh, and tenth floors. This was intended to lessen elevator congestion and force "socialization." In reality, when the place went to shit, it only made it easy to set up ambushes for people who lived the in-between floors by waiting for them in the appropriate part of the stairwells.

    It seems that what George Orwell intended as a warning, David Cameron read as a primer.

  • Robert||

    Force socializ'n? Why would that happen on the elevator any less than on the stairs?

  • ||

    A "county" in Kentucky....? Rather vague there, Mike. Another one of those meta analysis junk science studies, often quoted by pro ban, eh?

  • DADIODADDY||

    theys county good in Kentucky, one, two, three...I forget what comes next

  • ||

    That is a tasty looking pint Prince Charles is holding there.
    Anyone know what it is?
    I bet its an IPA.

    BTW: Anyone a home brewer out there giving thought to making a "Libertarian Beer"? If so, I am in as a drinker and an investor.
    Thanks

  • Mr. FIFY||

    It's amazing how many times liberals sync up with social conservatives:

    http://www.news-leader.com/art.....o+breathes

    http://www.news-leader.com/art.....t-to-smoke

    Read the comments on these links as well. The Stupid is strong in Springfield, MO.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    And for bonus stupid:

    http://www.oneairalliance.org/

    Oh, and fucktards in this state are bitching because the cigarette taxes aren't high enough. Guess which party most of them vote for every two years.

  • Stephanie||

    Huh. Wasn't expecting this out of Cameron's administration.

  • Robert||

    Does Mr. O'Neill think he's Tom Szasz? Trying to make the pull-back from more to much less severe authoritarianism seem like a move to something more insidious & dangerous? ISTR something about the perfect vs. the good.

  • Liberal Douchebag||

    It's Authoritarianism Lite! It's actually *good* for you! Suck it up, bitches!

  • Patriot Mike||

    I would gladly give up every right I have, it it meant smoking anywhere at anytime were illegal.

  • Edwin||

    Go on...

  • Barack Obama||

    Hang in there, Patriot Mike... I'm working on just such a future.

  • some guy||

    Would you gladly give up every right everyone else has for a smoke-free world? Because, hard as it may be to believe, this really isn't just about you.

  • European hair brazilian hair||

    Make you beauty from the hair, http://ibeautyhair.com

  • hair wefts||

    Hair extensions can really give you a very good look but you should be thoroughly aware of its pros and cons. People who have very feeble hair or no hair can go for hair plantations or permanent hair expansions but those who just want a new look or long hair can use the temporary methods. Ibeautyhair.com

  • *||

    I think this author is using the word "Orwellian" wrong. Orwellian doesn't refer to subtle nudging, but to very unsubtle all out totalitarianism.

    Also I get the sense that he's complaining for the sake of complaining. After all, he's telling us that the current British government IS dismantling all those nanny state regulations. So why doesn't he see this as good, but as "Orwellian"?!

    I would also say that they are dismantling these nanny state regulation is favor of a psychological fantasy that most likely wouldn't even work - its effects are minimal. So, considering that the actual effect of these changes is more freedom, how about you stop bitching about everything and see the (more-than-)half-full part for once.

  • RK||

    Please. A country that describes itself as 'one nation under god' has no right to criticise what is effectively just status quo politics... If attempting to alter the mindset of the electorate is new to you guys, I suggest rescinding the Republic and returning to Empire, lads.

    Yet more Brit-bashing from a country that should be grovelling at our feet in thanks not only for its existence, but also for our assistance over the past decade.

  • John||

    Take a look inward, Yanks. Your country is in far worse condition than ours. Mind you, you're about two millienia behind.

    Let us know when you grow up to be a real adult country.

  • nike running shoes||

    is good

  • Scarpe Nike Italia||

    is good

  • saily||

    good

  • hulian||

    good

  • alipay||

    ThAnK

  • wubai||

    ThAnK

  • dfeifjei||

    Get government replica uggs out of education and kids will get educated or fake uggs for sale not, as their parents desire. More of them will actually become educated without government than do now with it.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement