Nudgers vs. Nannies

The civil war between British busybodies

There is a new divide within Britain’s political classes. It’s not the old conflict of left vs. right, or a return of the 17th-century clash of Roundheads and Cavaliers. The new split divides those who believe the fat, feckless masses should be nudged toward better behavior and those who believe the fat, feckless masses should be nannied toward better behavior.

Prime Minister David Cameron leads the nudgers. He has established a Behavioural Insight Team (BIT) to furnish him with ideas for how to nudge the “illogical” masses (its word) toward the lifestyle approved by Cameron’s government: nonsmoking, alcohol-free, slim, no fun.

Public health officials and their cheerleaders in the media lead the nannies. They believe nudging isn’t enough and that, in the words of Catherine Bennett of The Observer, there will be “a surge in obesity and mass poisoning” by booze and junk food unless the government adopts rules forcing people to become more health-conscious. 

Thus far, the nudgers are leading the field. Having taken Downing Street in last year’s general election, they promise to override the previous 13 years of New Labour nannying, which included smoking bans, legal restrictions on junk food advertising, and various anti-booze measures. But their alternative is anything but a renewed respect for individual moral autonomy.

Inspired by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s 2008 book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Wealth, Health, and Happiness, Cameron set up BIT when he arrived at Downing Street last May. With Thaler and various psychologists as advisers, the BIT brain cops aim to use social psychology and behavioral economics to push people into adopting approved forms of behavior. The nudgers plan to do away with old-style Blair/Brown bossiness in favor of offering incentives, using subliminal messaging, and changing the “choice architecture” of our daily lives to influence us toward “healthier decisions and healthier lives.” Instead of using taxes to make it more expensive to drive cars, for example, the nudgers will aim to rebuild public spaces in such a way that choosing to walk or ride a bicycle becomes easier than it currently is. In short, they will physically re-engineer public space with an eye toward socially engineering those who inhabit it.

Some of the team’s propaganda is gobsmackingly Orwellian. BIT is built on the idea that people lack both the intellect and the free will to improve themselves and therefore must be secretly signposted toward approved behavior. A March 2010 Cabinet Office paper explaining the importance of 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; experts can simply toy with our gray matter instead. “Providing information per se often has surprisingly modest and sometimes unintended impacts,” says the Cabinet Office paper. 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 deploy underhanded nudging techniques. The same paper informs us that the government ultimately aims to be a “surrogate willpower” for the public. Because we the people are so fickle and clueless, the state must become our will.

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 period of overeating and over-boozing, the nannies came 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 informed us that more and more public health officials 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” is not enough; people must instead be forced to change their habits through bans and the threat of legal sanction.

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 ads for these bad things as well.

The nannies’ battle against the nudgers has encouraged sympathetic commentators to pipe up and demand tougher legislation to control the masses’ reckless lifestyles. A writer for the liberal Sunday broadsheet The Observer says the idea that “we can be gently pushed into self-improvement…smacks only of neglect.” The problem with nudging, she says, is “its feebleness in dealing with the biggest threats to health.”

Both sides take for granted that it is the role of the state to tell people what to do in their private lives: what to eat, what to drink, whether to smoke, how to travel from A to B, even how to have sex (always “safely,” of course). It is a testament to the lack of libertarian instinct in modern British politics that no one is standing up to say these issues are none of the state’s business. Anyone who respects individual moral autonomy should reject both the nannies, who believe we exercise our autonomy in the wrong way, and the nudgers, who believe the state should exercise our autonomy on our behalf. We need a third army in this unsightly war, one that chucks some serious intellectual hand grenades right into the middle of the nudger-nanny clash. 

Brendan O'Neill (Brendan.ONeill@spiked-online.com) is the editor of Spiked.

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.

  • ||

    What do you expect from a bunch of effete wankers that aren't even citizens? They are subjects of the crown. There hasn't been a "free" englishman in centuries.

  • ||

    What do you expect from a bunch of effete wankers that aren't even citizens? They are subjects of the crown. There hasn't been a "free" englishman in centuries.

  • ||

    "This is what British people actually believe"

  • Otto||

    Bonus points for the phrase "gobsmackingly Orwellian."

  • Old Mexican||

    Both sides [in Britain] take for granted that it is the role of the state to tell people what to do in their private lives[...]


    Which is why they stayed there and Americans did not.

  • ||

    Classical liberalism is practically dead in the UK and Europe, let alone libertarianism.

    Collectivism is all the rage.

  • ||

    Sometimes I think we should be liberating our cousins in the UK. Ever since they banned swords, I've been worried about them.

  • ||

    And look at the OED adding "LOL" and other non-words. Something's afoot over there, and it isn't good.

  • ||

    Who cares? They're just a bunch of micks, limeys, and whatever the hell Scots are. Cheap?

  • Old Mexican||

    Tommies? Hooligans?

  • ||

    They could be something worse, like fucking Italians.

    I'm just kidding. I only insult Italians to the extent that they produced Episiarch. Otherwise, I like them and their food.

  • ||

    Now don't distract me anymore; I'm plotting a coup against the monarchy.

  • ||

    But distracting you today has been my mission.

  • ||

    Yes, I can see that now. Don't you have a stalker or three to deal with?

  • ||

    I can handle them and bother you at the same time, ProL. It's a skill.

  • ||

    Albeit one without a market value.

  • ||

    It's valuable to me.

  • ||

    What are you, a fuckin' commie? Huh?

  • ||

    I'm plotting a coup against the monarchy.

    The fact that they will all be conveniently assembled at Westminster Cathedral in a few months is merely a happy coincidence, I'm sure.

  • ||

    At last, the throne will be mi--I mean, the British people will be free.

  • ||

    V for vendetta...

  • ||

    For the papacy!

  • The Gobbler||

    I love the Italians because only they write good opera.

  • ||

    And they do great history.

  • Sudden||

    I thought you had an issue with the Italians because they don't cook their pizzas in sufficiently deep barrels?

  • ||

    Sheer Episiarchian propaganda. I love Italian food.

  • ||

    Calling Chicago deep dish "pizza" is proof enough that you hate Italian food.

  • Resto Druid FTW||

    Lies, have you experienced German Opera, i.e The Magic Flute, Wagner, etc.?

  • Jim||

    "Scotch" is actual considered an insult towards the Scottish, unless used specifically to describe food or beverage items.

    This according to the one Scottish guy I know.

  • ||

    the correct term is "Scot" when refering to some one from Scotland. My ex- is a Scot and the younger of my sons was born in Scotland.

    When I was still a sailor stationed in Scotland, we refered to the Scots as "Jimmies". In Glasgow, if you don't know somones name, it is automaticly "Jimmy."

  • Coeus||

    Tell him to hop the fuck off the victim train. It's too crowded as is.

  • ||

    That's become received wisdom in Scotland only very recently - certainly within the last 50 years - and I wish I knew why. What makes “Scotch” any worse than “French” or “Dutch”? And why is it okay for pies, beef and Whisky, but not people? Please, use “Scotch” freely, not least because it annoys the hell out of the sort of people who get annoyed by sutch things.

    I am, by the way, thoroughly and irreversibly Scotch.

  • rather||

    I've been reading George Washington's correspondence, as well as that of Brtish officers, and it gives a personal insight into their characters, and duty

  • ||

    "Wanda, do you have any idea what it's like being English? Being so correct all the time, being so stifled by this dread of, of doing the wrong thing, of saying to someone "Are you married?" and hearing "My wife left me this morning," or saying, uh, "Do you have children?" and being told they all burned to death on Wednesday. You see, Wanda, we'll all terrified of embarrassment. That's why we're so... dead. Most of my friends are dead, you know, we have these piles of corpses to dinner."

  • ||

    Yet another cry for help. Here we are, bombing Libya, when our old friends across the Atlantic need our bombs ever so much more. Dammit, are we going to sit here and let those people continue to feel the boot of oppression?

  • ||

    I think the problem is their attitude. They're *so* superior. I don't think they actually realize where they'd be without us to protect them in the first place.

  • ||

    Oh, they know.

  • ||

    If they'd only thank us.

  • ||

    What do you mean? They pay tribute to us, don't they?

  • ||

    No. DISAPPOINTED.

  • ||

    Well, color me surprised. I thought that was why they sent us all of their actors and musical groups.

  • ||

    Well, they like winners.

  • ||

    Winners, like North Vietnam?

  • ||

    You pompous, stuck-up, snot-nosed, Floridian, giant, twerp, scumbag, fuck-face, dickhead, asshole.

  • ||

    How very interesting. You're a true vulgarian, aren't you?

  • ||

    You're a very attractive man, ProL. You're... smart, you've got wonderful bones, great eyes, and you dress really interestingly.

  • ||

    Kevin Kline deserved that Oscar more than maybe anyone else, ever.

  • ||

    I've worn dresses with higher IQs.

  • ||

    That exchange is one of my all-time favorite insult barrages.

  • ||

    Say what you will about the sword ban, but quickenings are down 85% in Britain. It's nice taking a stroll in the park without constantly looking over my shoulder for kurgans.

  • ||

    But there can be only one, dude.

  • ||

    It never occurred to me that maybe an immortal was behind the sword ban. Huh.

    Also, the Dude as an immortal in a good Highlander movie is fucking brilliant.

  • ||

    "That sword really tied the room together."

  • ||

    Careful, man, there's a beverage head here!

    The Dude abides.

  • ||

    Oh, this is so full of possibilities. Anyone know the Coens? We might even be able to drag Connery out of retirement for this one.

    If not, at least some sort of mashup. Can no one here make this a reality? I lack all filmmaking skills.

  • ||

    "Shut the fuck up, Victor! You're out of your element!"

  • ||

    "You want a head? I can get you a head, believe me. There are ways, Dude. You don't wanna know about it, believe me."

  • ||

    "Ve vant ze head, Lebowski!"

  • ||

    "When only a few of us are left, we will feel an irresistible pull towards a far away land. . .to fight for the prize. A rug that really ties the room together."

  • ||

    "Ve believe in nothing, Lebowski. Nothing. And tomorrow ve come back and ve cut off your head."

  • Hugh Akston||

    My only hope is that the Big Lebowski kills me before the Germans can cut my head off.

  • ||

    The Dudelander.

  • ||

    Or, in the alternative, The Highduder.

  • ||

    His Highduder, whatever.

  • ||

    Refresh, damn you!

  • Hugh Akston||

    Or El Dudelanderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    SO, for those not into brevity we get

    El Highduderino or El Dudelander.

    Hmmm...I think this needs some work.

  • ¢||

    teeth / "eternal vigilance" / hiyo

  • Grunt||

    Here we go again - another third-world nation we need to hit with large numbers of cruise missiles in order to save them from a brutal ruling elite.

    We had to destroy the nation to save it.

  • Old Mexican||

    A March 2010 Cabinet Office paper explaining the importance of nudge policies argues that "people are sometimes seemingly irrational" and therefore the state should "influence behaviour through public policy."


    Obviously, people do NOT act irrationally when setting up policies. Policy-makers are all perfect beings.

  • ||

    You sit down and shut up when talking about your betters!

  • ||

    That's why I hate behavioral economics ( of which this whole "nudger" thing is an offshoot). It's basically social fascism under a different name. "Oh, so you want free markets, do you? Well! you sometimes spend too much on lattes, so what do you know?!?" Damn, you got me.

    It's the oldest political trick in the book under the guise of "science", point out the other guy's flaws before they can point out yours.

  • ||

    oops, I should have finished the article. They do mention behavioral economics after all.

  • ||

    I thought dual-operative Nick Clegg was supposedly more libertarian, but I guess he's fallen in line with Cameron's agenda in the co-op parliament.

  • Cytotoxic||

    No that was just Reason's fantasy. Spending has actually continued to rise during The Coalition despite the draconian "cuts" being "made".

  • Old Mexican||

    He has established a Behavioural Insight Team (BIT) to furnish him with ideas for how to nudge the "illogical masses" (its word) toward the lifestyle approved by Cameron's government: nonsmoking, alcohol-free, slim, no fun.


    Something like blue-code laws, the intent behind these policies being the same: to create a virtuous being. By force, if necessary.

  • ||

    Say, are Nudgers those who follow the political philosophy of Theodore Nugent? Granted, there's a superfluous "d", but that could just be the result of British spelling.

  • ||

    Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted "Theodore" Nugent?

  • ||

    Man, we have been commenting together too long. That's exactly where I was.

  • ||

    Something strange is afoot at H&R.

  • ||

    It is. Maybe it's all due to BP's name change?

  • ||

    Pretty sure it's the threaded comments. Much like Rufus' phone booth, it allows too much skipping between times.

  • ||

    I'm posting from 1998.

  • ||

    Wait, are we allowed to have 3 separate movie threads going at once?

    Isn't that one of the precursors to the Singularity? I'd hate to be the one that causes that.

  • ||

    I'm also an artificial intelligence construct. The real Pro Libertate stopped commenting here years ago.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Instead of using taxes to make it more expensive to drive cars, for example, the nudgers will aim to rebuild public spaces in such a way that choosing to walk or ride a bicycle becomes easier than it currently is. In short, they will physically re-engineer public space with an eye toward socially engineering those who inhabit it.

    Sounds like the nannies have taken up feng shui. The more the nanny-staters talk, the more they sound like proselytizers of a religion with a god of their own making.

  • ||

    Public health officials and their cheerleaders in the media lead the nannies. They believe nudging isn’t enough and that, in the words of Catherine Bennett of The Observer, there will be “a surge in obesity and mass poisoning” by booze and junk food unless the government adopts rules forcing people to become more health-conscious.

    I'm beginning to think that there will never be enough lampposts.

  • kilroy||

    “shift the focus of attention away from facts and information and towards altering the context in which people act.”

    ACORN went to Britain?

  • kilroy||

    I'll add the obvious:

    Having the government pay for your healthcare makes your health choices a matter of policy. Here we go...

  • ||

    This. The more you get from the government, the more you owe the government. It's like living with your parents. If they provide a roof over your head, food on your plate, and a bed in the hospital, then you pretty much have to abide by their rules. Only thing is, the kid living in his parent's basement has the choice to move out. You can't opt out of the nanny state (unless you move to the land of the free and the home of the brave.... at least when such a place existed)

  • Sudden||

    You're both also forgetting the corrollary:

    When a person is detached from the economic costs of their poor lifestyle choices, they are significantly more likely to engage in poor lifestyle choices.

    Fucking behavior economics, how does it REALLY work?

  • kilroy||

    Not forgetting it, that's just not the way things are trending.

  • jester||

    So they've given up on Ludovico?

  • wulfy||

    "He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."

  • Jim||

    That's how S. E. Cupp feels about Jesus.

  • ||

    shift the focus of attention away from facts and information and towards altering the context in which people act.

    If that isn't totalitarianism, I don't know what is.

    I'd prbably feel worse about the British being irretrievably lost if I wasn't pretty sure we're right behind them on the slippery slope to the ashheap of history.

  • ||

    RC, I don't think you were wrting such things a few years ago, i.e., that the US is headed for the ashheap of history. Am I right?

    Legal positivism is one gigantic reason why we are headed in that direction.

  • LarryA||

    I'd probably feel worse about the British being irretrievably lost if I wasn't pretty sure we're right behind them on the slippery slope to the ashheap of history.

    You mean like Sen. Chuck Schumer’s S. 436, establishing college “mental health assessment plans” where committees of educators, administrators, counselors, and “other qualified members of the educational community” (like campus security?) would decide whether risky students should be referred for voluntary or involuntary mental health evaluation?

    What could go wrong with that?

  • wulfy||

    When government kills the individual spirit, the body that is left behind tries to kill itself. As Big Brother slowly wins control over all of our decisions, we rebel by first destroying our careers, then our relationships, then our own property, until it is seized, then our rented or subsidized housing, until it is all destroyed, until we retain one last decision, to relinquish the will to live. Government is designed to protect us, but it cannot succeed if it is unlimited. It is a machine run amok. It will kill us in order to protect us.

  • ||

    To be fair, the nannies and nudgers are all over the world. Check out Greece and even America nowadays, the people there are also protesting because others want to do less nannying for the people.

  • ||

    "the fat, feckless masses"

    My feck has been missing for some time. Has anybody seen it?

  • ||

    I'm here because of the picture.

  • Brian R||

    It seems pretty obvious that the author (and probably most/all of the commenters) haven't actually read Nudge. Despite this disapproving write up of "underhanded nudging techniques", it's actually a rather harmless concept, and something a Libertarian should love.

    First off, choice architecture is not some Orwellian mind control power. It's basically the same thing as user interface or user experience design. People do it all the time (or should) to make it easy to navigate to the right part of a website, or fill out a form correctly.

    Choice architecture is just applying the same concept to other aspects of life. Don't force people to save for retirement, just make it the default option when you get a new job. Don't make it mandatory to ride your bike, but maybe make it a bit safer. Don't make people buy insurance, just make it easier to compare the costs & benefits of the plans.

    Basically the idea is to not force anyone to do anything, just make it easier to do the "right" thing. Frankly, the concept beats the hell out of the nannies trying to force you to do everything.

    Unless you are a weak-minded fool, you can still do whatever you want. If you are a weak-minded fool, then it's probably good that someone is trying to stop you shooting yourself in the foot. Remind me again why this is evil?

  • ||

    Frankly, the concept beats the hell out of the nannies trying to force you to do everything.

    I take it you've never heard of "scope creep."

    If you honestly think that our masters will stop at merely nudging, then you might want to get your blood checked for high levels of naïveté.

  • Brian R||

    As bigT pointed out below, choice architecture is not something that can be avoided. If there's a choice, then it has to be presented in some way and there usually is a default for it. Those things will nudge people towards one choice or another. Even if nobody consciously thought about it, eg you just randomly throw checkboxes on a page, that still nudges people.

    "Nudging" is just about thoughtfully choosing the presentation and defaults. You have to do it anyway, you might as well try to do a good job of it.

  • ||

    Or, you now, the gummint can stay the fuck out of the behavior modification business and well, govern.

    To accept "nudging" as a legitimate function of the state, you must first accept that the state has a bona fide reason to be involved in any aspect of my life to begin with.

    So, no, they can go nudge themselves.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Yes, Libertarians should just love government deciding what's 'right' and then nudging us in such a way that we don't even know we're being nudged in contrast to those rude unsubtle nanny types.

    STUPID LEVELS OVER 9000

  • bigT||

    You are missing the point and have obviusly not read Nudge.

    We are faced with many choices in life - as Brian R pointed out - that ALWAYS have a default choice built-in. His example of saving for retirement is one. When you join a company you can either opt in or opt out of the stock plan. Make it the default to opt in rather than out. That's all there is to it.

    The alternative is to make the less attractive option the default. Do you really want that?

    The nannies are for taking away choices. The nudgies are for making 'good' choices easier.

  • ||

    It doesn't matter, both are trying to put their hands where they don't belong. It is not the government's business which choices are "default" and which aren't. Fuck off statist.

  • philosophiere||

    And I suppose we just trust that the 'nudgers' know what the best choice for all of us is, correct?

  • LarryA||

    The nudgies are for making 'good' choices easier.

    Until the majority chooses the "good" choice. Then the "bad" choice can be eliminated.

    Either way, you lose.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Yeah... I *have* read Nudge... and with a few incredibly minor exceptions, I thought it was filled with especially stupid ideas based on seriously flawed premises.

    See:
    http://seanwmalone.blogspot.co.....-this.html

    Government shouldn't be anywhere near our choices in the first place. You fail also to grasp that choosing among stock options when taking a new job is not a choice forced on a person. Government created nudged are.

  • ||

    it's actually a rather harmless concept, and something a Libertarian should love.

    Drink!

  • Colonel_Angus||

    If it involves the government or central planners or state creating laws theat are designed to "nudge" people in to making "the right decisions", for example, by telling a business how they must advertise, it is NOT compatible with libertarianism or classical liberalism. The individual may not be the one being forced to behave, but the business certainly is and that is just plain paternalism.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "Don't force people to save for retirement, just make it the default option when you get a new job."

    There must be some entity that is being forced to do something in this case. Employees and businesses should be free to negotiate their own terms, without polite suggestions from statists.

  • ||

    Bullshit.

    Being a Libertarian means treating adults like adults.

    Didn't save for retirement? Keep working.

    Drank heavily, smoked, and avoided exercise into your middle-age? Pay the medical bills or just die early.

    Make your choices and don't come crying to me.

  • Wankeroo||

    Both sides take for granted that it is the role of the state to tell people ... how to have sex (always “safely,” of course).

    Just wondering, is the British safe word "Bloody 'ell!"?

  • Alan Kellogg||

    You ever notice that whenever somebody says people have the good sense of a small puppy, somehow that statement never includes them?

  • ||

    What I find so completely ironic in this discussion is that the state thinks it needs to make choices for the "unenlightened" citizens, yet if ANY singular citizen had a debt of comparable size versus their income as the "intelligent" government has, they'd be forced to file for bankruptcy almost immediately.

  • beowulf||

    I'm amused by the presumption that the base case is a "nudge-free" state...there is always a nudge one way or another, whether toward cars or toward bicycles and thus seeking to orient the nudge in a positive direction doesn't seem unduly perfidious on the face

  • MNG||

    You don't get it. For libertarians living in a world that is the result of past nudging is great, any present nudging to ameliorate any negative effects of the previous nudging is not to be allowed because, you know, nudging is wrong.

  • MNG||

    Look at something relatively simple like Title IX in college sports. For centuries governments used naked force to limit the options of women and disadvantage them and foster negative beliefs and stereotypes about them, including ideas about women and sports. After centuries of this the cultural beliefs that were fostered and reinforced are very prevalent. The government's role can actually be withdrawn now and the prevalent beliefs will be enought to damage women and girls for a long time. Of course girls may not leap into sports like boys and audiences may be less inclined to support them.

    But any attempt to remedy this, even one that, like Title IX simply makes further federal funding conditioned on spending it equally amongst the two genders, is some kind of outrage to libertarians. You know, because that would be "nudging."

    You can do the same thing with our energy infrastructure, racial and class inequalities, and so on.

  • ||

    Oh Ho, this is good.

    Whoever is spoofing Minge here is very close to going overboard with da stoopid and making it unbelievable.

    High B+

  • ||

    Yup, two wrongs make a right. Got it MNG.

  • MNG||

    Oh yeah, I forgot that. Like how libertarians advocate pacifist resistance to violence. Wait a minute, they don't, they condone violence to meet violence. Oh, but they say violence to address another's violence is different. Interestingly enough some people feel nudging to combat the effects of past nudging is different too.

    Funny that.

  • x,y||

    Wrong again, Minge.

    Libertarians do not "condone" violence to meet violence. We accept it as a possible option to be made by an individual in his own discretion. We also accept pacifism or anything else the individual decides is right for him.

    And government violence uses my tax $$$, whereas your personal violent response to an offender does not.

    Libertarian comprehension fail.

  • Rock Action||

    Government fostered negative attitudes towards women's sports?

    BWAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    That takes the cake. No really, it does. Dude, you are the moron's moron. Thank you for the confirmation.

  • MNG||

    Government action helped maintain a pervasive and widely prevalent idea of women's inferiority in many areas, do you dispute that?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Do you dispute that it just might be because women are inferior in many sports? I mean it isn't as if hundreds of thousands of years have evolved human males to be bigger, faster, and stronger than females or anything.

    Fucking evolution, how does it work again?

  • Rock Action ||

    [Do you dispute that] government action helped maintain a pervasive and widely prevalent idea of women's inferiority?

    I don't know. Were the attitudes prepolitical? I can certainly tell you that there were laws and institutions that were inimical to women; whether these institutions and laws helped shape a social and societal consensus is up for debate, and I don't think we're going to solve it, unless you have a host of psychological studies on hand.

    Are you skilled in debating the normative effects of law?

    I'm not.

    I do know that Cass Sunstein and his "soft paternalism" is at issue here, and Glenn Beck aside, he is known as one of the foremost believers in the normative impact of law and institutions. He's all over my old (2006-7?) Con Law book.

    His arguments are almost always in favor of increasing state power, from anti-pornography statutes to government intervention in speech in order to "improve the deliberative quality of the discussion."

    The desirability of enacting his policies is certainly up for debate, as is your statement, as is the logical path you're going down.

  • Dumbass||

    God, watch womens basketball and tell me it isn't boring as hell

  • ||

    I didn't need government nudging to know that women's sports is completely un-fkn-watchable.

  • ||

    Wanna hear a joke?

    It goes like this: women's sports.

  • MNG||

    And this has nothing to do with the fact that girls play sports a lot less than boys (developing less skills as a group), in large part because of the different attitudes about sports among society, parents, coaches, teachers, and girls themselves, attitudes fostered by past governmental discrimination.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Nope. It has to do with the FACT that women have evolved to be smaller, slower, and weaker than their male counterparts.

    Or should evolution be outlawed because of its "unfairness"?

    You're a douche.

  • Rock Action ||

    If anything, women's sports are beneficiaries of the institutional decision -- and possibly the, ahem, normative pressures -- that we should encourage young girls to play sports.

    Because the eyes don't lie.

    But just a thought from the Duke women's basketball coach the other day:

    When it was pointed out that this is the 30th year of the women's tournament and in the 30th year of the men's tournament UCLA was in the midst of its dominance, McCallie had a fascinating reply about the arc of development.

    "We can be better than the men," she said. "Women are superior. We can break the mold. ... This is where multi-tasking, intuitive smarts comes in as women. We can grow this game.

    Just threw that in there for fun, I guess. Can you imagine if a men's coach said something like "Men are superior. This is where jumping and running come in." Or something like that?

  • ||

    For libertarians living in a world that is the result of past nudging is great

    Really? Oh, do tell.

  • MNG||

    Well, Libertopia would just be a stopping of all present nudging, leaving the conditions prevalent in the world, conditions fostered by past nudging, to be in effect unmolested.

  • ||

    Well, I'll just fix that by jumping into my wayback machine...come along, Sherman.

    Oh, wait.

  • ||

    Why bother arguing with someone who can't even grasp a simple concept like "aggression"? You might as well go yell at a brick wall.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "For libertarians living in a world that is the result of past nudging is great"

    Fuck you.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    The government fucked it up, therefore the government has a right to fix it... using your money. Right.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    The government never had any legitimate business making choices involving personal transportation. We're paying the price for them doing it anyway. And they always think the nudge is in the positive direction at the time.

  • MNG||

    That's right, in the area of transportation the status quo is largely negative and the result of government nudging. My point is that by now yelling "no more nudging" you prevent any attempt to nudge us back away from that, thereby allowing the conditions fostered by the past nudging to create the structural incentives to keep those conditions going.

    Oh, and fuck you Cap'n Angus.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Seriously, MNG. How do you not understand the point on this one?

    EVERY generation of meddling asshats arrogant politicians believes that their "nudges" are what's right for society.

    It's not like all the oil and automobile subsidies were put in place because politicians thought that it was terrible for people and they just wanted to be evil bastards. It's always a combination of rewarding political allies and stupidly trying to force the public to do what politicians think is for their own good.

    What they don't consider is the long-term side-effects and "unintended consequences" of their actions.

    But you can't solve that by doing more of the same. We have no time machine. We can't undo all the crap nudges governments have imposed in the past. All we can do is STOP doing the same crap that we've been doing forever, and let time and freedom sort out the rest.

    I actually don't think the sorting out process would even take very long - if you let it. People respond to incentives all the time, and very quickly.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Why the hell should I have to surrender any amount of control over my own life in order to put right what Thatcher or Major or Blair fucked up?

  • Binky||

    "Nudging" sounds gentle and nurturing. "The mother elephant is nudging her calf toward the watering hole." It's so much better than, say, "goading" or "shoving".

  • ||

    That fella in the picture is kind of 'tubby' (ha!) to be telling others what to eat.

  • ||

    And yet, personal observation (and obesity statistics) have shown me that, left alone, many people will eat themselves into a state of obesity and therefore cannot be entrusted to be left alone with their own bodies.

    Sad, eh?

  • ||

    What's sad about it? Eat until you explode, for all I care.

  • ||

    What's sad about it? Eat until you explode, for all I care.

  • ||

    I agree with you both times. Who cares? I'll do my part by not feeding or breeding with fatties.

  • ||

    And yet, retards still think the well being of others is somehow their business. Sad eh?

  • ||

    Gosh, it's just killing you that someone, somewhere, is doing something that you don't like.

    Fuck off, chubby chaser.

  • ||

    Heller,

    The well being of others becomes my business when the aforementioned others show up with diabetes at the age of 31 and expect me to subsidize their health care costs for the rest of their lives.

    The same thing could be said for people who don't wear helmets when out on their motorcycles, nearly kill themselves, end up in my county hospital, and don't have the money to pay for their bills.

    Many of the same people who can't be entrusted with taking care of their own bodies can't be entrusted with taking care of their children's bodies. While driving home last night, I saw an obese woman with her large husband and two toddlers, both of whom looked like miniature refrigerator boxes with heads on them. These kids are being injured by their own parents.

    I have no doubt that, down the line, I will end up subsidizing the lifestyle choices that these two parents made for their children.

    Yep. My conclusion is that many people can't be entrusted to take care of themselves OR their children.

    Ever sat between two obese people on a plane? I did about three weeks ago. It was almost as unpleasant as the time back in 1991 when, on a flight from Frankfurt to Hamburg, I sat between a woman who smoked six cigarettes and one who smoked five.

    More freedom? More liberty? Some people need less. A LOT less.

  • ||

    You could smoke on a plane? Cool!

  • ||

    Cool for you, waffles, but not for those who, through no choice of their own, have to inhale your smoke.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Then don't get on a plane that allows smoking.

  • creech||

    This is a legitimate concern about free riders. Libertarians are mostly about stopping free riders. However, we'd kick them off the bus while you, apparently, will give them your seat, your newspaper, and whatever snack you happen to have in your purse.

  • ||

    That is why government should not be involved in health care. If government were not involved in health care the state of health of any of your fellow citizens would be of no consequence to you.

    And that is as it should be.

  • ||

    That is why government should not be involved in health care. If government were not involved in health care the state of health of any of your fellow citizens would be of no consequence to you.

    Were wishes horses, beggars would ride.

    It's all fine to sit around and talk about some utopianistic fantasy in which a) government was not involved in healthcare and b) all people were capable of making good decisions for themselves.

    Unfortunately, that is not the real world. My dispassionate, real-world experience has demonstrated to me that a) government is involved in health care and b) even intelligent people make dumb decisions when it comes to their own well-being. This observation does not take into account the stupid among us.

    My dad's a great example. Extremely intelligent, well-educated, retired as a Lt. Col., lived around the world ---- and smoked for decades. Even after the surgeon general's warning.

    Wise people will end up paying for the healthcare of stupid people. Whether it be in county hospitals or in jails, it will happen.

    If an oz. of prevention taxes prevents a pound of remedial taxes, it's a worthwhile societal investment.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Your policy prescription is to force people to do what you want; ours is to get the government out of healthcare. Don't act like our prescription is an unrealistic 'wish' because the status quo is on your side. That's like saying we shouldn't be against mugging because there are always going to be muggers. Screw off and stub all your toes.
    If people want to smoke, get fat, get addicted to drugs, whatever, good luck to them. Until you can explain to me why those choices are objectively worse than a steady diet and plenty of exercise I will be against forcing people one way or the other.

  • ||

    Your policy prescription is to force people to do what you want

    You have me confused with another poster.

    My position is that a) if you insist on voting for a government that taxes me to pay for the lifestyle choices that you make then b) I insist on being able to determine what lifestyle choices you make since, clearly, you are not to be entrusted with such decisions yourself.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Ok... So how about we stop subsidizing the foods that make people fat, we stop subsidizing the health care costs for people who are fat, we eliminate price controls and other mandates on insurance companies (while also opening that industry up to some legitimate competition nationally & internationally) - and let them charge whatever premiums they want for people who are seriously obese.

    Problem... solved.

    Suddenly other people being fat costs you nothing, and the medical care and associated issues incurred by becoming morbidly obese are now the responsibility of the people who refuse to take actions that would help them stay healthy.

    "The same thing could be said for people who don't wear helmets when out on their motorcycles, nearly kill themselves, end up in my county hospital, and don't have the money to pay for their bills."

    Yes... It could also be said about anything else you might want to hammer in place as supporting "arguments" for your orwellian bullshit.

    You know what? What about all those people who slip and fall in the bath-tub and show up at the ER and can't afford to pay their bills?

    What about all those people who fall off their roof trying to fix their satellite or clean their cutters... and can't afford to pay their ER bills.

    Blah blah blah. That list goes on forever and ever and ever.

  • ||

    Ok... So how about we stop subsidizing the foods that make people fat, we stop subsidizing the health care costs for people who are fat, we eliminate price controls and other mandates on insurance companies (while also opening that industry up to some legitimate competition nationally & internationally)...

    Hilarious. What England are you living in?

    I'd imagine that, we suddenly stopped subsidizing health care, those of my neighbors who needed it would commit crimes to get it. After all, sometimes it's pretty essential.

    So I'd end up paying for their incarceration.

    Somebody who is 5'6" and weighs 350 .lbs has already demonstrated that he can't handle the liberty he already has. More? Nope. Less. Sadly less, but less.

    Orwellian? Nope. I've got less use for Orwell than just about anybody here on Reason. But I also operate in the real world.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Ah yes, the REAL world. The one where you think you have the right to tell others how to live their lives.

    Fuck off, state cum guzzler.

  • ||

    Ah yes, the REAL world. The one where you think you have the right to tell others how to live their lives.

    Fuck off, state cum guzzler.

    Well, good to know that your rebuttal is substantive.

    Actually, I'm completely anti-state.

    I favor letting people live the way they want and inhaling all of the nicotine/high fructose corn syrup they want, provided they sign a release absolving me of any financial liability for their poor decisions.

    However, in the real world --- at least the one that I live in --- they get to have their high fructose corn syrup and eat it, too.

    I'm perfectly willing to let you do whatever you want to to yourself provided you agree not to come to me when what you've decided to do to yourself results in diabetes, lung cancer, hypertension etc...

    However, if you're going to ask me to pay for your self-inflicted illnesses, you better believe that I'm going to want a say in how you conduct your life.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Dude, it's not fat people and smokers making you pay for their healthcare, it's the government. If you're against taxes, argue against taxes. Don't use them as an excuse to take control of other people's choices. Freedom is the freedom to do what people think is stupid - if the only choice you're allowed to make is the 'smart' one you're not free.

  • ||

    Freedom is the freedom to do what people think is stupid -

    Completely agree, as long as your stupidity doesn't in any way injure me. In the real world, it does. And I don't mean you, specifically, but you as a metaphor for those who engage in risky behavior without having the ability to provide for themselves when said risky behavior turns against them.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    What do you mean 'in the real world, it does'? Do you mean that when people injure themselves, they come and force you to pay to help them? Or do you mean that the government forces you to help them, and because the government does this, it justifies giving the government the power to solve the problem it created by taking away even more freedom? Because if there's a line of fat guys at your door, pointing guns and demanding money, those guys should totally knock that off.

  • ||

    Fuck off, state cum guzzler.

    Wow. Sorry, man. I didn't mean to get under your skin like that.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Umm... I'm not living in England at all... and I don't want to, partially because of douchebags like you.

    It's amazing how little comprehension people have for this stuff.

    The world that exists now includes a massively regulated and centrally planned health care market. This is the primary cause of both the high costs and the limited access in most of the first world.

    So not only does freedom solve the problem of you having to pay for other people's care... it also makes health care a hell of a lot cheaper and easier to afford than it already is.

    And what the hell is up with your rampant hypotheticals? Suddenly because there's no government provided health care poor people instantly turn into bank-robbers?? WtF.

    Maybe, you know... charity, insurance, bank-loans, credit cards, etc. would be an option?

    Moron.

  • ||

    The world that exists now includes a massively regulated and centrally planned health care market.

    This is what I call "the real world."

    It seems that you agree that it is, indeed, reality, since you call it "the world that exists now."

    Should we be debating the merits of various solutions to the problems of liberty and health care costs in the real world or in some non-extant fantasy world?

    In the current world, the world as it exists now, a world of abundance and food choice, 30% of American adults are obese. That's reality.

    Or do you disagree? I don't think you do.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    So? Why shouldn't 30% of American adults be obese? It's not your fucking choice, it's theirs.

  • ||

    So? Why shouldn't 30% of American adults be obese? It's not your fucking choice, it's theirs.

    I'm in no way, shape or form against obesity.

    Those who have the means to be obese without risking the financial well-being of you, me, the United States etc... should not only be allowed to be obese but encouraged to be obese. The early demise of so many would be a financial boon to the system as a whole.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    No, no, fucking no! Not encouraged! Left the fuck alone! Jesus! This is infuriating.

  • ||

    No, no, fucking no! Not encouraged! Left the fuck alone!

    It was a tongue-in-cheek comment, Hidalgo ---- along the lines of "A Modest Proposal."

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Well, then I take back all the 'fuck's.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    "This is what I call "the real world.""

    Only because tools like you have made it so, and it wasn't always the way it is now. The way "the real world" is today is directly a consequence of decades of bad ideas underlying bad policy.

    "Should we be debating the merits of various solutions to the problems of liberty and health care costs in the real world or in some non-extant fantasy world?"

    Obviously the real world. Perhaps you should explain why the debate you wish to have explicitly excludes any discussion of the system itself? If you want to have a sane talk about this stuff, you can't leave out the elephant in the room - which is the incentives built into the current, corporatized, retarded system (or worse, the incentives that would be built into a fully socialist system) that contribute to the problems you're currently whining about.

    "In the current world, the world as it exists now, a world of abundance and food choice, 30% of American adults are obese. That's reality."

    And?

    I already said that we should stop subsidizing all of the crap that contributes to people's fatness.

    One of those things, by the way, is government funding of health care.

    Here are your options:

    1. Let people be free to eat & drink whatever the hell they want and to live with the consequences of their decision.
    2. Become a convoluted, quasi-totalitarian clusterfuck of a state where we pay for everybody's health care while also dictating what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.

    One of those options is sustainable, one is not.
    One is morally acceptable, one is not.

    Occam's Razor for the win, bitch.

  • ||

    Here are your options:

    1. Let people be free to eat & drink whatever the hell they want and to live with the consequences of their decision.
    2. Become a convoluted, quasi-totalitarian clusterfuck of a state where we pay for everybody's health care while also dictating what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.

    Which of those two do we currently have?

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    The second one. Sorry, did you think this was an 'accurately describe the status quo' competition? Because if it were, you would totally win.

  • ||

    The second one.

    We have the second one?

    It appears to me that people are free to eat and drink whatever they want. People smoke cigarettes, eat so much that record numbers of them are obese, drink too much for their own good, take illegal drugs etc...

    Or is that not true?

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    "2. Become a convoluted, quasi-totalitarian clusterfuck of a state where we pay for everybody's health care while also dictating what they can and cannot do with their own bodies."

    Okay, we need, sort of, to know what we're talking about here, but to some extent all of this is true of the healthcare systems both in the US and the UK. Is it:

    a. Convoluted? Fuck yes.
    b. Quasi-totalitarian? The state doesn't actually seek to control everything we do - but it does claim the authority to do so, for our own good. That's what the article was about, and that's what you're arguing for.
    c. A clusterfuck? - well, duh.
    d. Where we pay for everyone's health? True in the UK, close to true in the US.
    e. While also dictating what they can and cannot do to their own bodies? Well, you mentioned illegal drugs, so that's one example. I mean, seriously, you said 'It appears to me that people are free to... take illegal drugs.' Clearly not. They're illegal. Cigarettes and alcohol are taxed to discourage consumption, and we've got people like you arguing for more.

    So yeah, 2.

  • ||

    Cigarettes and alcohol are taxed to discourage consumption, and we've got people like you arguing for more.

    You have me confused with a different poster.

  • ||

    Here are your options:

    1. Let people be free to eat & drink whatever the hell they want and to live with the consequences of their decision.
    2. Become a convoluted, quasi-totalitarian clusterfuck of a state where we pay for everybody's health care while also dictating what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.

    One of those options is sustainable, one is not.
    One is morally acceptable, one is not.

    Occam's Razor for the win, bitch.

    Upon reflection, I have a couple of other thoughts:

    1) The two options you've presented are illustrative of the logical fallacy known as the false dichotomy because there are other options.

    2) I don't think you understand Occam's Razor very well, else you wouldn't have used it in this context. Besides, I've always felt Bertrand Russell's variant is infinitely more useful.

    But continue on with the sophomoric name calling. It's entertaining, if nothing else.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Ok... So how about we stop subsidizing the foods that make people fat, we stop subsidizing the health care costs for people who are fat, we eliminate price controls and other mandates on insurance companies (while also opening that industry up to some legitimate competition nationally & internationally) - and let them charge whatever premiums they want for people who are seriously obese.

    Problem... solved.

    Suddenly other people being fat costs you nothing, and the medical care and associated issues incurred by becoming morbidly obese are now the responsibility of the people who refuse to take actions that would help them stay healthy.

    "The same thing could be said for people who don't wear helmets when out on their motorcycles, nearly kill themselves, end up in my county hospital, and don't have the money to pay for their bills."

    Yes... It could also be said about anything else you might want to hammer in place as supporting "arguments" for your orwellian bullshit.

    You know what? What about all those people who slip and fall in the bath-tub and show up at the ER and can't afford to pay their bills?

    What about all those people who fall off their roof trying to fix their satellite or clean their cutters... and can't afford to pay their ER bills.

    Blah blah blah. That list goes on forever and ever and ever.

    FIFY

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Well... duh.

    But some morons like the above need the explanation.

  • ||

    RC, I don't think you were wrting such things a few years ago, i.e., that the US is headed for the ashheap of history. Am I right?

    Yep. Before TARP, stimulus, and ObamaCare, I thought we could avoid the collapse of the federal fisc, the dollar.

    I no longer believe so. Its baked in, now, just a matter of time.

    Now, I think we're looking at a very prolonged and severe depression characterized by a brutal combination of inflation and develeraging. Oh, and civil unrest.

  • ||

    Now, I think we're looking at a very prolonged and severe depression characterized by a brutal combination of inflation and develeraging. Oh, and civil unrest.

    In future years, this period of time will become known as "the renaissance" or "the enlightenment" or something similar.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    "The early 21st century", perhaps?

  • ||

    "The early 21st century", perhaps?

    Yes. Also, perhaps, "The Great Awakening."

  • ||

    Cool for you, waffles, but not for those who, through no choice of their own, have to inhale your smoke.

    There is no freedom without tolerance of others exercising their freedom in ways which you disapprove of.

  • ||

    Are they going to tolerate me kicking them in the balls for annoying me?

  • ||

    There is no freedom without tolerance of others exercising their freedom in ways which you disapprove of.

    As far as I'm concerned, their freedom to exercise whatever behavior they'd like stops when they start assaulting me with cigarette smoke.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Does it concern you at all that your definition of "assault" has been widened to the point that someone could literally exhale on you and you'll go crying to the cops?

  • ||

    Does it concern you at all that your definition of "assault" has been widened to the point that someone could literally exhale on you and you'll go crying to the cops?

    I'm sorry, Sean, but have we met? Do you know me? If not, what's with the (rampant) hypothetical? Suddenly because somebody exhales smoke on me I'll go crying to the cops? WTF?

  • ||

    Does it concern you at all that your definition of "assault" has been widened to the point that someone could literally exhale on you and you'll go crying to the cops?

    Personally, I tend to agree with Ayn Rand:

    If a man creates a physical danger or harm to others, which extends beyond the line of his own property, such as unsanitary conditions, or even loud noise, the law can and should hold him responsible. ----- Ayn Rand

  • Michael J. McFadden||

    Actually, common ordinary exhaled human breath contains up to 3,000 Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) and numerous metabolic poisons, as well as a concentration of CO2 that is literally 100x that which is found in clean air.

    The next time someone breathes near you it is obviously clear grounds for court case. After all, why should YOU be forced to breathe their respiratory excrement (remember: we get rid of our poisonous bodily wastes in four ways: defecation, urination, perspiration, and respiration.)

    DEATH TO ALL BREATHERS!

    - MJM

  • ||

    The next time someone breathes near you it is obviously clear grounds for court case.

    This is a ridiculous strawman: I've never argued anything like this.

    But keep clutching. You're bound to grasp something if you do!

  • Michael J. McFadden||

    I agree. It's a ridiculous thing for anyone to worry about. And your "assault" by others' smoke is equally ridiculous. The amount you would breathe in any decently ventilated venue is so dilute that to call it an "assault" is simply ridiculous... just as ridiculous as to call someone breathing near you an assault.

    - MJM

  • Hate Potion Number Nine||

    Orwell was a socialist.

  • The Fringe Economist||

    Daniel Hannan, go rescue the Brits!

  • ||

    A point I didn’t see addressed anywhere in is piece is what science has to say on the topic of “nudging.” All the latest research into behavioral economics demonstrates, much to the author’s discomfort no doubt, that we humans are fickle, fickle lot. A quick review of such new works as “Predictably Irrational,” “The Drunkard’s Walk” & “Stumbling on happiness” show that, much as true libertarians may disdain societal action to counter the premise, the choices propagated by our consumer society have in many respects degenerated in such a way that poor personal welfare choices are favored by our economy, especially among the lower economic strata of our culture. While I for one don’t trust any bureaucratic entity in our nation or abroad to effectively address this reality, we as a society need to look at how we can encourage people to make more positive choices in the bulk of their daily lives. And I really want to emphasize the importance of choice. Choice structures that favor positive welfare are perfectly acceptable only as long as one is afforded the opportunity to opt differently. The outcome of such decisions is affecting us all in the wallet, with less than a fifth of the U.S. population constituting over eighty percent of health and welfare expenditures in our nation, translating into higher taxes and high healthcare premiums for us all.

  • Michael J. McFadden||

    DO NOT FORGET the whole pledge the new gvt made about asking citizens about what laws needed to be changed, and then their amazing instant backtrack when their flashy website was dominated by calls to repeal/amend the smoking ban!

    They should NOT simply be allowed to get away with that! I'm not from the UK but I've visited there with friends over the last several years and have been very dismayed by the disruption of social life caused by the UK smoking ban.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

  • puma magasin||

    sweet.thanks.

  • mbt discount||

    like it

  • xiingguan||

    This movie has some nike sb skunk dunks for sale of the same flaws I saw in another attempt at a faithful adaptation of a work of fantastic literature long thought unfilmable, Zach Snyder’s 2009 version of Watchmen...That is, it kobe 7 for sale struck me as a series of filmed recreations of scenes from the famous novel

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