My Question for Nudgers
By Arnold Kling
we advocate policies that maintain people’s freedom to choose at as low a cost as possible.
My question is this: why is it that soft paternalism is always applied to areas where the nudgers want more government involvement? Why is it never applied to instances in which government is involved in ways that go beyond what nudging theory would suggest? My guess is that if one thought about the FDA or Medicare or housing subsidies from a “nudge” perspective, the result would be government policy that is much less intrusive than what we have now. Yet we never hear about such implications of soft paternalism.
When soft paternalism is used to denounce irrational state policy, I will take it as friendly to libertarians. As long as it is used only to suggest more arenas for government interference, I will view it as just another rationale for ruling-class hegemony.
[UPDATE: Scott Sumner shares my concern, as does Bryan. In libertarian paternalism, the emphasis is on Paternalism with a capital P. Imagine instead that we were talking about paternalistic Libertarianism, in which case we would be trying to come up with ways to nudge the ruling class toward giving up power.]