Thursday 20 September 2012

Is this a nudge?

Many free market liberals are opposed to the 'Nudge' agenda. In my view, most of the objections are based on a false reading of the book, or rather a false hearing, since most opponents seem to have never read it. I am less belligerent because I believe that if the Nudge philosophy was applied to British politics, it would require the repeal of hundreds of laws (as I have argued here and here.)

Nevertheless, I am acutely aware that the concept of nudging has ample potential to be appropriated by the forces of darkness. One of my favourite examples—because it is so brazen—is the ballot paper used by the Nazis to ask the populace whether they supported The Führer's decision to reunite Austria with the German Reich. It was simple 'ja' or 'nein' question....

I was reminded of this subtle nudge when I saw the following poll on an Australian temperance public health website today.

I doubt that anyone wants the government to do nothing about alcohol-fuelled violence so option 1 is out. I am inclined to think that catching and punishing the people who perpetrate said violence should be the priority and yet I am told—without evidence—that this will cost me money, so I guess I should "comprehensively deal with the problem" by supporting neo-temperance policies which will clamp down on the discounting of alcohol which I am told—also without evidence—is "harmful". Option 3 it is then. And I chose that option entirely of my own free will.

Australian temperance public health people hate it when you suggest that they are "anti-alcohol", so much so that the website on which that poll is hosted has a banner that reads "A favourite myth the alcohol industry and its allies like to promote is that their critics are "anti-alcohol" (you might need to refresh the page to see it). 

Far be it from me to suggest that these folk are old school wowsers who believe in teetotalism, but there are articles on the homepage called "Why I Don’t Drink Alcohol Any More", "Abstinence AOK" and "Striving for excellence without alcohol". Of the three other featured articles, one equates drinking with child abuse and two attack the drinks industry. Some people would say that if half of your homepage is dedicated to total abstinence and the other half is dedicated to hysterical attacks on drink and the drinks industry, that kinda makes you a temperance group, but what do I know?

And that quote about the "favourite myth" of the "alcohol industry" being to claim their critics are "anti-alcohol"? That comes from Mike Daube who used to run ASH UK. Back in the 1970s, when he was ASH's director, he probably complained that it was a "favourite myth" of the "tobacco industry" that he and his kind were "anti-smoking". As we have since found out, nothing could be further from the truth...

Meanwhile in that fabulous land of freedom, Australia, the temperance anti-alcohol public health lobby has been enjoying another lovely conference. Judging by the twitter feed, the anti-tobacco blueprint is being followed to the letter...

Time for a display ban?

Let's just ban it!

It's that man Mike Daube again...

OMG! People like Smirnoff! What are we going to do?

How many times do I have to ask you to think of the frickin' children?

(How many children get killed by alcohol anyway?) But at least one Australian politician has got a sane head on him...

Amen to that.


Keeping up with the wowsers is becoming a full-time job...

Australian Medical Association president calls for legal drinking age to be lifted to 25


Anonymous said...

Not much web traffic,only 12 votes and thats probably their people!

What should the NSW Government be doing to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence in the state?

Comprehensively deal with the problem by restricting trading hours, reducing the density of licensed venues, stopping the harmful discounting of alcohol, and make industry accept their share of respon (50%, 6 Votes)Nothing, illicit substances are the real problem (33%, 4 Votes)Penalise the people that cause the problems and put more police on the streets, which end up costing the taxpayer more money (17%, 2 Votes)

Ivan D said...

There is quite a response to the Herald Sun question on drinking age.

Worryingly, it suggests that many Australians actually are public health obsessed authoritarians so perhaps they deserve their awful government and its disproportionate spending on the likes of Hambleton.

Hard to say based on one survey but I have cancelled all plans to ever visit that part of the world as it seems to be largely populated by people I would rather have nothing to do with.

Michael J. McFadden said...

The Austrian Hitler ballot reminds me of a website out there where you have a choice about which you will obviously want to click one particular check box. The box of course is programmed to run away like mad from your cursor so it's impossible to click it.