When we first wrote about this idea two years ago, it really seemed like an Orwellian joke – the fact that the government was establishing a task force dedicated to studying how it could get you to do what it thinks is best for you.As Richard Williams wrote for Politico at the time, “Congress did not pass legislation authorizing such activity; this is something dreamt up by bureaucracies to force their own preferences on citizens, whether by combating obesity or discouraging procrastination when it comes to saving for retirement.”
But the Obama administration never lets a little thing like legislation get in his way, right? No, he just signs it into effect via executive order.As the Daily Caller reports, on Tuesday, “President Obama announced a new executive order which authorizes federal agencies to conduct behavioral experiments on U.S. citizens in order to advance government initiatives.
The initiative draws on research from University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler and Harvard law school professor Cass Sunstein, who was also dubbed Obama’s regulatory czar. The two behavioral scientists argued in their 2008 book “Nudge” that government policies can be designed in a way that “nudges” citizens towards certain behaviors and choices.
The desired choices almost always advance the goals of the federal government, though they are often couched as ways to cut overall program spending.”Just so you know, Sunstein is married to US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and when he testified before the House Small Business Committee when Col. West was serving actually said “increased regulation is a means to create jobs” because government must hire more people to enforce the new regulations. Yes, these are the types of people Obama has close to him.
And these are the same people who now want to try out some behavioral experiments on you – without you knowing of course — or giving your consent.
It will all be done ever so gently.For example, the original task force document “cited examples from the U.K. which showed that sending out a letter to late taxpayers which read “9 out of 10 people in Britain pay their taxes on time” led to a 15 percent increase in compliance.”
The new executive order encourages federal agencies to “identify policies, programs, and operations where applying behavioral science insights may yield substantial improvements in public welfare, program outcomes, and program cost effectiveness,” as well as to “develop strategies for applying behavioral science insights to programs and, where possible, rigorously test and evaluate the impact of these insights.”
In programs that offer choices for consumers, agencies are instructed to “consider how the presentation and structure of those choices, including the order, number, and arrangement of options, can most effectively promote public welfare.”The order also suggests that agencies fiddle with whether to label certain expenditures as “benefits, taxes, subsidies” or other incentives to “efficiently promote” programs.”
Now to be fair, marketers in private enterprise do this sort of thing all time, researching messaging and how to structure questionnaires and web pages to maximize engagement and response. In fact, I personally made a living doing that before deciding it was time to pick up the verbal pitchfork and fight back against the progressive takeover of my beloved Republic. But I digress…
There’s just something particularly creepy about the government doing this. I always have a choice not to purchase a product or service – well, unless it’s the government forcing healthcare down my throat. And until now, I had believed the thoughts in my own head were my own domain – until the PC police got involved and demanded I stop using certain terms like “illegal immigrant” or “Islamist.”
See what I mean? It’s already happening. But now the Obama administration is just admitting it publicly.
[Note: This article was written by Michele Hickford]