Obesity remains a serious health problem and it is no secret that many people want to lose weight. Behavioral economists typically argue that “nudges” help individuals with various decisionmaking flaws to live longer, healthier, and better lives. In an article in the new issue of Regulation, Michael L. Marlow discusses how nudging by government differs from nudging by markets, and explains why market nudging is the more promising avenue for helping citizens to lose weight.
In Bootleggers & Baptists: How Economic Forces and Moral Persuasion Interact to Shape Regulatory Politics, economists Bruce Yandle and Adam Smith explain how money and morality are often combined in politics to produce arbitrary regulations benefiting cronies, while constraining productive economic activities by the general public.
Featuring the author Thomas E. Hall, Professor of Economics, Miami University of Ohio; with comments by Jason Kuznicki, Research Fellow, Cato Institute; and Patrick McLaughlin, Mercatus Center, George Mason University; moderated by John Samples, Vice President and Publisher, Cato Institute.
When government imposes new taxes, rules, or regulations, it creates outcomes that often differ from the original intent. In some cases, these outcomes are so severe that they render the policy a failure. The law of unintended consequences has taken on an increasing importance during the era of ever-expanding government, and this book explores four important examples: cigarette taxes, alcohol prohibition, the minimum wage, and federal income tax. Hall examines how the policies came into being, what underlying political considerations influenced the process, the unintended outcomes of the policies, and why many of these policies are still in place. Because many of these unintended consequences are seriously adverse, the author argues that the moral of these four key examples is that whenever a new government policy is being considered, much more detailed review must be given to the range of potential unintended consequences—a practice that is rarely or accurately undertaken.