Sunstein is the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. In this role, Sunstein plans to bring his work on "behavioral economics" (oh, Euphemism, thy name is Bullshit) into practice.
Slate's website has a review/summary of Sunstein's book, co-authored with Richard Thaler, titled Nudge. "Nudging" has become hot lingo lately, and academics seem to like the idea. Slate says in the review:
Laissez faire economics holds that faced with a broad menu of choices, most of us will choose wisely.This is flatly false. Let me reiterate: that's not true. Laissez faire economics doesn't recognize an objective/transcendent "wisdom," but allows that each individual might define and act-out wisdom in different ways. A strictly logical person might assume that anyone who has approached and/or gone through a postmodern-perspective ought to appreciate that, but alas... so here the philosopher kings show up, only this time they're talking not like Platonists, but like sophists. Out of one corner of their mouth, they talk about the need to respect cultural differences, to understand that there is no authoritative "Truth," etc. -- out of the other corner, they're disappointed that you're not making value judgments in the same way that they would.
Enter Cass Sunstein, endorsed and lauded by Obama & Co. Now as long as you prefer electric cars and arugula, Sunstein may not be much of a bother. But if, as Sunstein himself has spoken, you desire to occasionally let your inner Homer Simpson have his way--then watch out. You might be, ummm... "nudged," back toward making "wiser" choices. Wikipedia reports:
Sunstein (along with his coauthor Richard Thaler) has elaborated the theory of libertarian paternalism. In arguing for this theory, he counsels thinkers/academics/politicians to embrace the findings of behavioral economics as applied to law, maintaining freedom of choice while also steering people's decisions in directions that will make their lives go better. With Thaler, he coined the term "choice architect."Yes, Cass Stein is going to let you choose--but he's going to, ummm... "nudge" you in the right direction. "Libertarian Paternalism" -- Oh, Euphemism, thy na... wait, I already used that one.