American Elephants

Is This Still America? The American People Demand Answers. by The Elephant's Child


What worries you? Are you concerned by NSA collecting meta data from your phone calls, emails, Facebook pages and Twitter posts, with the help of giant technology businesses like Google, Microsoft, Apple and others? How about the police collecting your license plates and driver’s license information?

Or perhaps you are alarmed by ObamaCare’s upcoming collection of your personal and medical information and making it available to hundreds of low paid flunkies?  Your name, age, race, height, weight, blood pressure, allergies, medical status, Social Security number, home address, family members — sorry, HHS has said they don’t have the funds to protect that information — just enough to gather and disseminate it.  Why worry?

Well, the federal government is now working on ways to ease your concerns. They are hiring what they call a  “Behavioral Insights Team” that will look for ways to subtly influence people’s behavior, according to documents obtained by Fox News.

The program is still in its early stages, but the document shows that the White House is working on such projects with almost a dozen federal departments and agencies — including HHS and the Department of Agriculture. (And the EPA? Of course they include the EPA.)

“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.

The document praises subtle policies to change behavior that have already been implemented in England, which already has a “Behavioral Insights Team.” One British policy concerns how to get late tax filers to pay up.

“Sending letters to late taxpayers that indicated a social norm — i.e., that ‘9 out of 10 people in Britain paid their taxes on time’ — resulted in a 15 percent increase in response rates over a three-month period, rolling out to £30 million of extra annual revenue,” the document reads.

Well, isn’t that interesting? I am such a boring person that my metadata is probably not too interesting and used carefully, it can help to find the terrorists in this country that they can’t seem to pick up when they are warned about them by foreign intelligence services — like the Tsarnaev brothers. I’m considerably less comfortable with my complete identity, history, address, who knows— perhaps even my bank account available to bunch of low-paid bureaucrats in beltway cubicles.  Who wouldn’t be? Formal oaths don’t seem to work these days — see Private Manning,  Edward Snowden, and that oath to preserve and defend the Constitution.

The “Behavior Insights Team” is a bundle of really stupid ideas. Is this no longer America? Is this how they plan to win elections and stay in power? Only Liberals could dream up a scheme like this and even consider putting it into action. Colloquially called “The Nudge Squad.” They intend to enroll university professors to serve on the Nudge Squad and develop it.

Derived from a 2008 book by former regulatory czar and far-left Cass Sunstein and Chicago Booth School of Business professor Richard Thaler. Thaler told Fox that the program sounds good. “I don’t know who those people are who would not want such a program, but they must either be misinformed or misguided.”

“The goal is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government by using scientifically collected evidence to inform policy designs. What is the alternative? The only alternatives I know are hunches, tradition, and ideology (either left or right). Thus spake the voice of the far left academy. They naturally assume that enlightened people such as themselves know better about making choices than the individuals who make the choices.

How about drastically reducing the number of things the government does? There are very few things that our government does well, and the more tasks they add  — the worse it gets. This is an out-of-control administration infused with radical ideas that is extending its reach into territory denied to it by the Constitution — which they want to change because it interferes with their greedy grasp for power. Oh do, very much, read the whole thing.

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