An Explanation of Nudge Economics

Following the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Economics to Richard C. Thaler, I was concerned that not enough people knew about the subject of his contribution to economic theory, behavioural economics or, more commonly, “nudge theory”. I believe that this is because nudge theory economics had never before been explained in rhyme. So, I fixed it.

An Explanation of Nudge Economics
or U Can’t Nudge This, Doo-do-do-do-doo.

Ruling the morons is irksome and tiring.
Their taste for self-harm never slows or relaxes.
So when changing the public’s destructive hard-wiring,
the old-fashioned methods are levies and taxes.

But the twenty-first century’s ways are more subtle.
No need to let everyone know what you’ve planned.
To make any Gulliver rule Lilliput ’ll
be easy when you learn to be underhand.

Give a nudge – on the quiet. Start a legislation diet.
If you want to change the world, no need to preach it; just imply it.
Who reads final payment letters? Who cares if they’re overdue?
But if you say everybody else is paying, they will too.
Many people think once you’re inside a hospital, insurance might
be something that, when filling out admission forms, you fudge.
But if shrewdly-played peer pressure makes them turn around like Escher,
put that warrant book away and give a nudge.

Some believe homo sapiens entirely rational
with every decision considered and clever,
but the stresses of living with any compassion ‘ll
shrink one’s thought process to “don’t care; whatever”.

So if peoples’ brains are resembling custard
and governments want them to act certain ways,
you’d better hope those in the know can be trusted
before social engineering – no, not that, what’s the phrase?

Yes, it’s nudge, exultation, not psycho-manipulation,
though we may have changed the rules to have default organ donation.
Surely, you can see how skilled it is to guide the weakly-willed to
well-designed choice architecture (no, that’s not a Kiwi builder).
Sure, there may be some confusion, now that choice is an illusion,
but society will benefit and that you can’t begrudge.
But you won’t find where the menace is because, in the words of Genesis,
“we seem to have an invisible nudge”.

 

As read on ABC Radio Queensland on Thursday 12 October 2017.

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