Monday, February 17, 2014

GOLD vs. Nudge

I see the theory of GOLD articulated in my new book "Golden Rule Libertarianism" as the equal but opposite of the "Nudge" theory of law professor and Obama crony Cass Sunstein. He argued in his book of the same name that government policy should let people be as free as possible, which he calls the "Golden Rule of Libertarian Paternalism" (not to be confused with MY Golden Rule Libertarianism). But--and this is an important "but"! But Sunstein believes that, even if we let people be free, the government can "nudge" them into making better decisions and choices than they would do in a system of unrestrained freedom. He speaks of "choice architecture" as the set of policies which shape our choices, and he says that if he nudges people then they will make better choices and have fewer regrets from having made bad choices. All with freedom preserved, by magic.

When Obama talked about going to war against Syria last year, he said he wanted "pinprick strikes," to which one Pentagon official replied "the US military uses sledgehammers, not pinpricks." Similarly, the government, with the army, and the police, and the regulators, and criminal prosecutors, and laws, enforced by jails and fines, does not "nudge" people, it SHOVES people into the path that it desires for them. When you break the law then you go to jail. You are either free or else you are a slave. There is no in-between.

As you would know if you had read Golden Rule Libertarianism, one of the basic ideas of GOLD is that human minds are fallible and can always make mistakes, so it isn't fair for one person to force another person to obey his decisions about what the other person should do or which behavior is best for him, because the other person could be mistaken. GOLD goes on to posit the "government as God complex" idea, which states that individuals within and outside the government are basically the same, so the same rules of private people apply to government politicians. In other words, politicians and regulators are not gods who magically know the perfect choices for everyone to make, despite their claim to be experts and brilliant legal scholars. If Cass Sunstein wants to "nudge" me into drinking carrot juice and eating tofu, he doesn't have the right to do so, because he is not God, and I can make decisions for myself just as well as he can make them for me (despite his "impressive" pedigree of Yale Law professorship and degrees from top Ivy League universities). If I want coffee and he thinks I should drink carrot juice, I might be wrong and he might be right, or he might be wrong and I might be right. But the person who will prosper and be healthy and alert or else get food poisoning and get sick and die is me, not him, so the fair and just thing is for me to decide for myself, and let Cass decide for Cass.

Contrary to GOLD, Nudge is simply a sophisticated, complicated justification for liberal leftist dictatorship, couched in soft mushy language designed to soften the public's fear of going to jail or being shot when a person refuses to be "nudged" into the decision by the Big Government which "knows what's best for us." Cass Sunstein doesn't know what's best for us, but he does want the government to rule us.