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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“Nudges can turn into shoves pretty quickly.”

– via Glenn Reynolds

15 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    “Nudge turns to shove, shove turns to shoot”.

    Glenn Beck.

  • RickC

    As one of the commenters there recognized, this means the government taking your money and then using that money to manipulate you to act as they desire, for your own good of course. I think C.S. Lewis had a quote about the worst form of tyranny.

  • Lee Moore

    I confess that I have a certain amount of sympathy with the theory of nudging. If the government wishes to make me do X, I would far prefer to be nudged to do it than be ordered to do it on pain of punishment. (Whether the government has any right to nudge or order on the subject of X is a quite separate point.) So I accept the nudgers point – nudging is usually going to be much less illiberal than ordering.

    But here’s the thing – the reality is not so pretty. For I have never ever seen a professional nudger propose that something which is currently the subject of government orders should instead become the subject of government nudges. It’s all about moving unregulated matters into nudge territory. Because, obviously, nudgers are really dyed-in-the-wool bossyboots folk and they favour nudging because they think public opinion will not, at present, wear ordering for the next set of things they want to regulate.

    I am uncertain as to whether to embrace nudging. If employed – as all current nudgers wish – to coax a reluctant public opinion to regulate even more stuff, it’s a horrid threat. But if employed to coax a reluctant public opinion to deregulate currently regulated stuff, it could be very useful. Obviously for pure blood libertarians it’s a ghastly idea – just ordering in a different form. But for liberal minded conservatives such as myself, I can see that it could be used as a deregulatory tool. But in the end the Tory in me wins. Any new thing that might have benefits is still probably a bad thing. For reformers always overestimate the benefits and overlook the true extent of the costs and risks.

  • It’s like my dad always said: eventually, everybody gets shot

    Moe Szyslak

  • @RickC:

    I think you mean this one:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

    They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

    — C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock

  • Sean

    Or as the sage of Baltimore put it: “The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.”

  • RRS

    We don’t hear much from Cass these days. Wonder if he is looking back in wonder (or regret).

  • Tedd

    …I can see that it could be used as a deregulatory tool.

    And it already is, in small ways. Consider the work of Hans Monderman on roadway design, or the use of feedback loops to “nudge” drivers to slow down in school zones. Granted, these examples are very much more the exception than the norm, and they’re applied to a narrow and relatively unimportant set of problems. But they show the potential for a more mature and refined approach to striking a balance between competing interests.

  • Mr Ed

    To make up a quote from an Indonesian General Dealing with a Maoist uprising:

    “Do not shoot the Nudgers, bullets are too good for them, use knives!”.

    Of course, he never said that, which is just as well.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    I say, I say, I say!

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    I say, original.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    There are some words that cause the samizdata site to reject the message.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Any message with the word ‘S-c–l-sm’ gets deleted, i find.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Eve caused original s-c–l-sm, by giving her apple to Adam, instead of selling it. Then they both got fat and Fell down- the true Fall of Man.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    insert o-ia-i, and you’ll have the message!