One regarding a paywall at The Times of London and a ticketing nudge by United Airlines.
Of course, what should be noted is that Thaler was able to detect both these nudges and opt completely out of the game. He admits this in the column:
On the positive side, opting out of these offers was easy...This is not something you can do when you are caught in the government nudge game, or only opt out at great cost. It ain't easy.
Consider the government-runTSA passenger screening program. They try to nudge you into going through cancer causing screening machines by creating the alternative of being groped. Since government runs the entire program, if you want to fly, you have to choose one bad alternative or the other. If screening was left to each airline, that is the private sector, no doubt alternative screening techniques would emerge, but the government traps you.
Thus, government nudges are much worse than private sector nudges.
Thaler knows this but he reaches an absurd conclusion:
Some argue that phishing — or evil nudging — is more dangerous in government than in the private sector. The argument is that government is a monopoly with coercive power, while we have more choice in the private sector over which newspapers we read and which airlines we fly.Is this guy serious? Does he really think nudges are easier removed by the democratic voting process than by consumers "voting" daily? Does he not even realize that in the private sector multiple alternatives can emerge, whereas in the government sector special interests rule over the masses and it's an all for one program?
I think this distinction is overstated. In a democracy, if a government creates bad policies, it can be voted out of office. Competition in the private sector, however, can easily work to encourage phishing rather than stifle it.