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.

The Left Controls the Words We Use, Or Tries To. by The Elephant's Child

The administration has determined that in the current immigration crisis we should not use the word “illegal”, so demeaning, you know. We must be more compassionate.

Words, however, have meaning that is not determined by the Democratic party, but by the dictionary. In this case — Merriam Webster:

illegal, il•le•gal, adjective:  not allowed by law.
……………………………….not according to or authorized by law. …………………………………………
That’s pretty straightforward, and descriptive. The meaning is plain, solid fact. Do you see anything demeaning there?

alien, noun:  a person who was born in a different country and is not
……………….a citizen of the county in which he now lives.

……………….a foreign born resident who has not been naturalized ……………….and is still a subject or citizen of a foreign country.

The administration has said that we must not use these terms, although there are no others that accurately describe the situation.  We’re supposed to go for “unaccompanied children” though “minors” more accurately describes the situation, and the majority of the illegal alien “children” are between the ages of eleven and 18, and many are members of Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13, a violent street gang already infesting many of our cities, whose members are mostly between age 11 and 21.

This is one of the great problems in our nation’s political battles. The Left spends a lot of time on words, slogans, bumper-stickers, and phrases. They believe if they can get the words right, they can control the narrative. Different words evoke differing emotions, and the right choice can compel people to do what you want.

The Right is so concerned with how a policy or program works and what it means and how it will play out. We worry about cost and incentives, the economics and probable effect—and seldom notice that they are manipulating us with clever use of words. Our minds are just off in a different direction, and we aren’t very good at slogans anyway. Propaganda works!


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