…critics of soft paternalism should realize that people are already being nudged all the time, and not by government. The true masters of behavioral economics are marketers in the private sector. Marketers have been studying behavioral economics for ages, and have never had any compunction about using it to take your money.

Ever wonder why prices in stores are $9.99 instead of $10? Behavioral economics. How about sales and discounts? Just raise the base price and treat the real price as a discount, and behavioral economics will make people more eager to buy. That yogurt that advertises itself as fat-free? Check out how many grams of sugar it has. And so on.

Marketing is by far the biggest application of behavioral economics, it’s perfectly legal and it’s already everywhere. You are being nudged 24/7.

– Noah Smith, in his Bloomberg View column “We’re All Smart. And Dumb. Sometimes.”