It has come because of the failure of two older ideas. The first was post-war, top-down, bureaucratic paternalism - still, bizarrely, kept alive, if only just, by Gordon Brown’s wretched regime. This depended on the economics of John Maynard Keynes and assumed that, ultimately, clever people in the government knew best. The second was neo-liberalism, the cult of the free market that, under Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, became the orthodoxy of the West. This depended on the economics of Milton Friedman and assumed that, ultimately, people, through the workings of the market, knew best. Both had their successes and both failed. With Nudge, Thaler and Sunstein have written the textbook of the Third Way.
This third way precisely splits the difference. They call it libertarian paternalism. This means there should always be freedom of choice but there should also be nudges in the direction of doing the right thing.
But it’s interesting stuff, you might think. Unfortunately, if you read the book you will change your mind. Although snappily packaged with its one-word title to get into the same market sector as Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, it is a very, very dull read, a dogged march through social policies with boring lists of what nudges should be imposed and how.
Freed from the demands of advertising and the moral and marketing qualms of the networks, content is once again king, and the result is some of the best storytelling of our time.
Thus we begin here with Mr Wyndham Lewis as a Tyro, his outrageous and hilarious self-portrait from 1920, in which he paints himself as a grinning, vorticist Lucifer. “Tyros” were what he called those deluded optimists of the postwar years who greeted the arrival of peace with broad smiles on their faces. At the back of his mind is the advice given by officers to soldiers in the trenches: grin and bear it. Lewis, who served in the war and became a lifelong appeaser as a result, shows himself sporting an insanely toothy rictus. The sharp, vorticist angles from which his head is constructed turn him into a kind of grinning human bayonet that thrusts itself into the face of 1920s Britain. It is a portrayal soaked with bitterness and malice.
Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.
The English language – spoken by more than one billion people worldwide – will celebrate its one millionth word within a year, linguistic experts have revealed.
A new word is created every 98 minutes and the current number of official words stands at 995,844 with experts predicting the millionth word to arrive on 29 April, 2009.
At least 144 production wells and 157 exploration wells have so far been sunk across a region of southern England between Dorset and Kent. One expert reckons there could be 200m barrels of oil under this stretch worth approximately £14.5 billion at current prices. There are no gushers, as in Hollywood films, because the oil is not under pressure.
Such is the need to boost supplies that the government has this summer approved a record 97 licences to 54 applicants to explore for gas and oil on land. Five years ago there were only eight applications involving six companies. There is even a licence to sink wells in Wells in Somerset.
Star Energy, one of the leading onshore operators, is applying to Guildford council this week to erect a 95ft high rig to drill for gas on the Albury Park estate owned by the Duke of Northumberland.