This post on ‘soft paternalism’ on my friend David’s blog. It is quite intriguing – if you don’t have time to read, the gist is: due to the fact that humans don’t often carefully consider all points on an issue, maybe an option is to have the default option offered to people (e.g. whether to contribute to a 401k at work) be an experts best choice (e.g. yes.), and have people have to opt out or change their option if they wish. Read the post for more details.
I like it. We all rely on experts we trust to shape our opinions anyway, mixed in with direct experience, etc, but still – if we are making an educated decision we have relied on other’s thinking and research to help us out. The applications seem intriguing. Given that as a landlord I have paternalistic control of some people’s lives, I will have to investigate the options for soft paternalism – setting the defaults. I am not good with forcing other people to live a certain way, even when I do have some control – I could have the washing machine only hooked up to cold water, but I can’t bring myself to do that yet. As an unintentional foray into soft paternalism, I try to always push in the ‘cold’ button on the washing machine when it has been left somewhere else, but it is pretty easy to change that option – I’ll have to think about this and be even more creative!