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Among the memorable books of 2008 is Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s “Nudge” in which the University of Chicago professors outline a new philosophical approach to governance. By creating the right incentives, government can “nudge” Americans to make the right decisions about their retirement, health and education.
The book appeals to both fiscal conservatives who want to rein in uncontrolled government regulations and progressives who want the government to address unmet social needs.
Coincidentally, Professor Sunstein is a close advisor to another University of Chicago academic who made an impact in 2008: President Barack Obama.
Though the current economic crisis requires a stimulus package of massive size and scope, Obama will also need to nudge Americans to change certain behaviors through incentivizing pragmatic change. Picture, for instance, a captain turning around an ocean liner at high seas. Universal broadband adoption – a key component of Obama’s stump platform – is a good example.
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