Charlie's Blog: The Nudge From Hudge and Gudge


The Nudge From Hudge and Gudge

In the United States both plates and portions have increased dramatically over time. A really good nudge would be to make them smaller.

Microsoft desperately wants you to adopt Windows 10 on your devices. This desperation has made them pre-load Windows 10 on 7 and 8 machines, and now, it seems some people have Windows 10 forced on their machines without them asking. This was called a "mistake" by Microsoft, but I know better. They are pushing. They are like a desperate boy pawing some scared girl in his car on a Saturday night where the boundary between foreplay and rape becomes blurred. First, they try beer to loosen her up. Then, they start yanking on clothes. They are nice at first only to make it your fault when you refuse, and they force you down and push you into "compliance." Microsoft's next strategy will be to unlitaerally and immediately end all support for all previous versions of Windows. I can feel the "nudge" coming. Somehow, in all of this, I still have choice as a consumer.

Progressives will point to this latest action by Microsoft as just another example of corporate evil, and I agree. It is evil. Yet, this same bullying has reached a zenith in the USA under the administration of Barack Obama. Thanks to Obamacare and all the sneaky crap in there, some hospital workers must now comply with a mandatory flu shot. Basically, you get a worthless flu shot with its attendant hazards, or you get fired. This wouldn't be so bad as the despotism is clear to see, but no one wants to be seen as the bad guy and the enemy of freedom. So, the employee who refuses the flu shot is said to be "voluntarily terminating" their employment. This lets the hospital off the hook on their unemployment compensation insurance. That last part is what changes the shove of aggression to the "nudge" of what Cass Sunstein calls libertarian paternalism.

Libertarian paternalism is simply an oxymoron. It is coercion cloaked in a choice architecture where you are free to choose the right thing or suffer the consequences. It is essentially the same deal the mugger offers you when he says, "Your money or your life." The sane world knows this as a false choice, but the bizarro world of big government and big business sees it as the freedom to choose. As long as one option is better or even slightly better than the other one, this coercion is justified. Choice becomes meaningless and merely a pyschological prop for people too stupid to think for themselves. Ultimately, freedom is not a thing in itself but a semantic concept in much the same way that the old school communists labeled their governments "people's republics" when they were neither a republic nor for the people.

Libertarian paternalism is simply a polite form of totalitarianism. The poster boy for this polite totalitarianism is none other than our current sitting president, Barack Obama. Essentially, passive aggression has been elevated to a policy. Since statecraft is soulcraft, this mindset has flowed out into the wider world such that corporations and organizations have become pushy in all things. People are reduced to a herd, but this is OK as long as the cattle cars aren't headed to Auschwitz.

Words mean things. This may seem tautological and elemental, yet the world keeps forgetting it. We have Orwell to thank for pointing out how regimes try to change the meaning of words and language. In this case, the word "freedom" has been bastardized and distorted beyond any resemblance to its original meaning. Freedom is simply the ability to act, think, and speak without coercion, hindrance, or restraint. Libertarian paternalism is the removal of freedom because it coerces.

This libertarian paternalism has taken hold primarily because of the thought, writings, and efforts of Cass Sunstein. Sunstein is a lawyer who joined forces with the economist, Richard Thaler, to write the book known as Nudge. This book is essentially the bastard offspring of a pairing between a donkey and a snake. It is such a ludicrous concept that you can't even imagine what the beast would look like. Yet, we can grasp it if we consider the problem that Thaler and Sunstein were trying to solve. How do you make people choose wisely without taking away their freedom? The obvious and common sense answer would be that you can't. The freedom to choose implies the freedom to choose poorly. You can't have it both ways. But in law and economics, fools try to draw square circles anyway.

Sunstein would be just another academic idiot except that he became a mentor to Barack Obama. Bad ideas become real nightmares when the government embraces them, and Obama embraced this one. And why has this bad idea been tolerated? It is because the nudge toward the preferred end is justified by that preferred end. The end justifies the means. Now, most intelligent and humane people reject this Machiavellian dictum since many atrocities and crimes against humanity have been justified under this logic. What Sunstein provided was a new language to restate an old evil. Essentially, the date rape will become more enjoyable if you scream less.

The corporate world has embraced this libertarian paternalism in regards to their employees demanding "compliance" with a myriad of Byzantine rules and policies with many in conflict with others. As one manager told me once, "I don't fire people. They fire themselves." Now, these same evil idiots are extending this bizarro thinking to their customers. Basically, they want to churn their customer base for more sales by building choice architectures that nudge them into coughing up more dough. They can't make you buy the new product, but they can make it where you can't use the old product anymore. Durable goods become bread and milk.

For Hudge and Gudge, choice is the enemy. They know they can't beat you into compliance without being evil or trick you into compliance because you have gotten smart. So, they try a form of Jedi mind trick to convince you that you want they have. It's like a mugger begging you to not bludgeon yourself to death with his baseball bat. Ultimately, the only freedom they can't take away from you is the freedom to die. Choice architecture is not for you but for your overlords to overcome their own cognitive dissonance produced by their naked aggression and evil. As conscience becomes blunted, the evil will increase, and society as we know it will become politely nudged into a living hell.