Obama's "compromise" and Behavioral Economics
If I correctly understand it—readers are welcome to correct me if I don't—Obama's "compromise" on the issue of requiring Catholic (and other) institutions to provide employees with health care that covers contraception, is that, instead of requiring them to provide health insurance that covers contraception, they are requiring them to provide health insurance with insurance companies which are required to cover contraception at no additional cost. That's a change in labeling, not substance, hence my scare quotes around "compromise."
It occurs to me that this particular deception may be inspired by the work of Cass Sunstein, now part of the administration, and Richard Thaler. In Nudges, Sunstein and Thaler discuss ways of tricking people into doing things by taking advantage of patterns of predictable irrationality, patterns themselves based on the work of Daniel Kahneman, which I discussed in an earlier post. The reality of what Obama is demanding has not changed, but the appearance has.
Leaving me curious as to whether this is one of Cass Sunstein's contributions to current policy, and if so whether he would describe it as an example of libertarian paternalism, tricking people into doing what (in his view) is in their own interest.
I hope not.