Via a round-up post at Liberal Conspiracy, I stumbled upon this (PDF) document, produced by the think tank Social Market Foundation.
The major thrust of this report, bearing the rather sinister subtitle 'The Art of Behavioural Change', is that people cannot be trusted to take charge of their own lives, and need big Daddy Government to do it for them!
"Government needs to adapt its learned behaviours if it is to be an active actor in helping individuals make the necessary changes. It needs to rely less heavily on the idea of the citizen as rational economic actor and absorb the lessons that behavioural economics has to offer." - Pg6
Later in the executive summary, the authors lament the objections of 'liberals' to Government interventions that they consider to be "clearly legitimate", using New Labour's smoking ban as an example. Never mind that there was significant opposition to the ban, nor that it has been to the detriment of pubs and bars.
They go on to make two still more astonishing suggestions in the space of one paragraph: That the British public has in effect endorsed this paternalistic interventionism by re-electing New Labour, and indeed that interventionism is a specific 'agenda' of our Government
"A number of significant developments have occurred in recent times to make government interventions that influence individual behaviours more palatable...We repeatedly voted in a government with an agenda that seeks to inform us about what is good for us and has adopted policies which seek to change the way we behave – parenting classes being a prominent example." - Pg9
As if the blue-rosetted alternative has anything even approaching an anti-interventionist 'agenda'? The shower of shits who gave us this dismal document themselves claim that they "work with all of the UK's main political parties". Doesn't that tell you something?
Much of the detail of the report is taken up by the advancement of the idea that people aren't 'rational' enough to make the sorts of decisions the Government wants them to make. I guess the people who make up the Government are, however, rational enough to make them for us?
This whole document is thoroughly symptomatic of just what is wrong with the diseased New Labour project. The SMF act like someone who has a hammer - intervention, either direct or by manipulation - and see everything as a nail to be beaten down by it. The idea that Government could step back and let individuals run their own lives as they see fit doesn't, predictably enough, get a look in.
Enough of the 'Art of Behavioural Change', already. If the Government continue the seemingly inexorable trend towards authoritarianism, with the implementation of the types of policies called for here, they might just find themselves confronted with a behavioural change decidedly un-anticipated by the likes of the SMF - A vote for liberty. Now, that's what I would call a 'rational' response.