Nanny Knows Best

Nanny Knows Best
Dedicated to exposing, and resisting, the all pervasive nanny state that is corroding the way of life and the freedom of the people of Britain.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Behavioural Insight - The Nudge Theory

A belated Happy New Year to all my loyal readers!

I am gemused to see that Cameron has been seduced by the idea (laudable) of cutting back on government legalisation that is designed to force us to behave in ways that the government wants us to, but has instead decided to replace it with a concept known as "behavioural insight" (aka "nudge theory") which attempts to manipulate us into behaving in ways that the government approves of (eg giving more to charity, paying more taxes and drinking less)...not so laudable.

How does it do this?

Via a combination of subliminal messages and appealing to the innate human desire to be part of the social "norm" (ie "decent people like to pay more taxes", "the majority of people don't drink to excess" etc).

The theory is that people will comply with whatever "group norms" the government tells us are in play. This technique is used by dictatorships to control their populations, in extremis the state uses the "group norm" approach to encourage the population to spy on and bully those who do not comply with "approved group norm" behaviour and indeed to alienate and ostracise certain social/ethnic groups.

So enamoured is Cameron with this theory, that he has set up a secret group of "experts" who are advising him on how to apply it across government departments (see yesterday's HMRC Is Shite for one such example). Indeed so secret is the work of this group that

Nanny won't tell anyone who is in it, or what they are doing.

Anyhoo, whilst Nanny tries to play mind games with us (latest advice from the "nudge theory think tank", abolish rounds and adopt a tab system instead for paying for drinks in pubs) it is worthwhile remembering what governments are actually meant to do.

Governments are meant to provide us with a "plug in and play" environment in which we are able to live our lives freely, without hindrance, and to conduct our business with as little bureaucratic interference as possible.

Has the government provided us with a "plug in and play" environment?

No, it has not!

1 The train services treat their customers as prostrate milch cows, ripping them off with ever higher fares in return for a substandard cattle truck service.

2 Heathrow airport (the alleged hub of our airport network) regularly turns into a poorly managed refugee camp at the slightest hint of inclement weather.

3 Refuse piles high on the streets thanks to the incompetence of our overpaid unelected council officials.

4 The police store data on victims of crimes who dial 999.

5 The UK is £4.8 Trillion in debt etc.

In short we have become a third world country where the government chooses to play mind games, rather than get down to the business of fixing the shite infrastructure and broken local "democracy".

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  1. Excellent piece Ken; as I've mooted to you before, there was a seemless change of government from Nu-Labour to Blu-Labour and we all noticed there was no real change at all.....Progressive Marxism for all intents and purposes.....They appear to have a "Common Purpose."

    When there is nothing to choose between the main parties, then there is no real choice and no real choice means no real democracy......We are seeing career politicians acting like managers rather than government. Most have had little real experience outside of the Westminster bubble and have lived their lives within political theory books. My own local Conservative council, Wokingham, are running a competition for a local community to design a logo for their "Community Brand." What on Earth is that all about.....It is supposed to be a logo that people can relate to, that sums up life on that particular estate.

    Government needs to cut back its size and stop interfering in people's lives; it is not the role of the state to tell people how to live but, Nanny finds it very difficult to give up said powers and influence especially given that likely, some petty mindless jobsworth, complete with Hi-Viz jacket, has built up his or her own empire around that percieved power.

    I recently asked my own MP what has happened to the great repeal bill he was working on and how was the "bonfire" of the quangos going as it appears that Cast Iron Dave has created more since he's got his hands on power.....My MP declined to answer.

    I have always been a strong Conservative supporter however, I do not feel I now have a Conservative Party to vote for.

  2. Ken,

    Thanks for posting the Python video, one of my all-time favorites. In my youth we actually had Monty Python in the states, aired on Public Broadcasting. This was back when the government actually provided something decent for your tax dollar.

    As to the proper role of government, there is much to say, but it will only weary and depress me even to begin. The government is too big; I'll leave it at that.

  3. You're right of course, Ken. We've swapped one form of Nanny for another, more insidious one. I think the finger of blame needs to be pointing fair and square at the tabloids for encouraging this "won't someone think of the children" mentality that drives governments in this direction.