Not that you would know that from the Nudge agenda. Thaler has done some brilliant work on how to encourage people to save for their pensions – a big and important problem for which he has found innovative solutions. But in the vast bulk of Nudge and his work for Cameron he has opted to offer cute, technocratic solutions to mainly minor problems. Schoolkids getting fat? Redesign the canteen menu. Pesky hotel guests wasting towels? Stick up signs saying that other people behave much better. Oh, and your male customers missing the urinals? Etch a target into the porcelain. I would bet that Thaler will one day win a Nobel for his academic work, but in his current role as policy entrepreneur, brainstorming up and down Whitehall, he is not offering up his best insights. … [Read more...] about Cameron’s hijacking of Nudge theory is a classic example of how big ideas get corrupted
Which country has the highest level of corruption
I push the spade beneath the neat rosette of leaves, trying carefully not to castrate the plant. Castrate may seem an odd choice of word, I am after all just digging up a plant to move it, but hidden in the soil, underneath that Garden of Eden fan of greenery, there are two oval tubers, and they look just like testicles. … [Read more...] about Country diary: beauty and the bee orchids
In September 2012 more than 200,000 tonnes of soil left the Lugg in one flood, the equivalent of 26 hectares of top soil. There is up to 150mg of soil per litre of water in many of these rivers, and roads are visibly stained red after the water has subsided. This is caused by water flooding agricultural land – much of which is bare after being harvested for maize or root vegetables – and washing valuable topsoil into rivers. This soil is often doused in pesticides and fertilisers which cause additional damage to river ecosystems. … [Read more...] about ‘The losses could be profound’: how floods are wreaking havoc on wildlife
Zoom is in everyone's living room - how safe is it? Racist 'zoombombing' during synagogue meeting Laid off over Zoom: Firms cut staff by conference call Users have flocked to Zoom as governments around the world ordered large parts of their populations to stay at home to slow the spread of the virus. It is now ranked as the number two and number one app in the UK and US, respectively. … [Read more...] about Coronavirus: Zoom under increased scrutiny as popularity soars
The Democratic proposals on automatically enrolling workers into pension schemes is classic Nudge. The policy leaves it up to employees to leave their pension schemes if they insist, but it bets that inertia means most won't lift a finger either way. By leaving people the option of making bad choices Thaler and his cohort can deny the charge that they want the return of the nanny state. Their vision could be described as the au pair state: a more informal, less heavy-handed but still ever so slightly intrusive creature. … [Read more...] about From Obama to Cameron, why do so many politicians want a piece of Richard Thaler?