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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Conservatives shocked to discover that the White House practices leadership

Fox - Gov't Knows Best? White House creates 'nudge squad' to shape behavior
Fox News: The federal government is hiring what it calls a “Behavioral Insights Team" that will look for ways to subtly influence people’s behavior, according to a document describing the program obtained by Critics warn there could be unintended consequences to such policies, while supporters say the team could make government and society more efficient.

While the program is still in its early stages, the document shows the White House is already working on such projects with almost a dozen federal departments and agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture.

"Behavioral sciences can be used to help design public policies that work better, cost less, and help people to achieve their goals," reads the government document describing the program, which goes on to call for applicants to apply for positions on the team.

The document was emailed by Maya Shankar, a White House senior adviser on social and behavioral sciences, to a university professor with the request that it be distributed to people interested in joining the team. The idea is that the team would “experiment" with various techniques, with the goal of tweaking behavior so people do everything from saving more for retirement to saving more in energy costs.
Needless to say, the rightwing blogosphere believes this is the worst thing ever! Who knows, maybe they’ll manage to work themselves up into a Benghazi-style hysteria over it. In any case, it’s definitely a Benghazi-style scandal — i.e., not a scandal at all.

How long as government been doing this sort of thing? Pretty much forever. From the Forest Service’s Smokey Bear campaign to the Department of Health and Human Services ads raising awareness of various health issues, government tries to shape behavior without resorting to legislation.

I suppose the freak out may be over the fact that the White House isn’t trying to legislate behavior. After all, that’s the “limited government" conservative approach. From when you’re allowed to be free of pregnancy to who you’re allowed to love and marry, rightwingers are all about micromanaging people’s lives.

Maybe they look at efforts to shape behavior like this and think, “You’re doing it wrong!"

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