American Elephants


President Obama Orders Behavioral Experiments on the American People by The Elephant's Child

Awkward timing? A step in the wrong direction? What are they thinking?

President Obama announced a new executive order on Tuesday which authorizes federal agencies to conduct behavioral experiments on U.S. citizens in order to advance government initiatives.

“A growing body of evidence demonstrates that behavioral science insights — research findings from fields such as behavioral economics and psychology about how people make decisions and act on them — can be used to design government policies to better serve the American people,” reads the executive order, released on Tuesday.

The initiative is based on research from University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler and Harvard law school professor Cass Sunstein. Sunstein was Obama’s regulatory czar. The two “behavioral scientists,” the article calls them (an economist and a law school professor) argued in their 2008 book Nudge, that government policies can be designed in such a way that they “nudge” citizens towards certain behaviors and choices.

“The desired choices,” says reporter Chuck Ross, “almost always advance the goals of the federal government, though they are often couched as ways to cut overall program spending.” Of course they are.

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.”

I’m sorry, but the federal government has no right to “nudge” people into making the “correct choices.” Obama has clearly slipped into full tyrant mode. Is this Brave New World or 1984?  Behavioral experimentation indeed. When I went to school we used different words  — we called it “propaganda.”

Leftists clearly believe, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that because we made the mistake of electing them, they are far smarter than the rest of us. The late Robert Conquest nailed it:

The more romantic, but not thereby less disastrous, motives for self-deception were often a matter of good intentions — a proverbially inadequate guide. Its bearers had turned to socialism as a means of creating a better, more humane society. But of course socialism is not a synonym for humanitarianism but a specific social and political mechanism credited with the power to produce that society.

Conquest further noted that “The ethical argument, if such it can be called, seems to run:

  1. there is much injustice under capitalism
  2. socialism will end this injustice
  3. therefore anything that supports socialism is to be supported,
  4. including any amount of injustice.

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