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“Libertarian” paternalists (it pains one to write this) make the strong claim that they only hope to improve the lives of people by “nudging” them to make better decisions than their irrational selves allow.

Former commissioner of baseball (and evil Ephman) Fay Vincent makes an interesting point in tomorrow’s WSJ: that it is unusual that so few (almost none) professional athletes take steps to avoid the steep marginal income taxes that they are subject to. I don’t care to speculate as to why, or even if they are making wrong decisions (maybe being more likely to play in low tax states like Florida or Texas is a small part of it). I aim to merely point out that this is a chance for the nudgers to be intellectually consistent. If their goal is to truly make the lives of individuals better, and not a nanny-stater paternalistic expansion of the role of government, then I’d really like to see broad support for helping athletes make these financial decisions so as to avoid the hundreds of thousands of taxes they are irrationally assuming right now. Will the nudgers be providing seminars to all current and future professional athletes? Will they demand a seat at the negotiating table the next time a labor deal is being renegotiated? Will they ask that Congress step in and require teams to disclose to their players that there are ways to defer or to avoid certain taxes? I won’t hold my breath.

2 Responses to “A Chance for the Nudgers”

  1. Harry says:

    JB will like this: amend Dodd-Frank to provide subsidized advice from investment advisors. To qualify, the advisors would have to prove they have lived through two recessions, with bonus fees for each additional recession. We are talking about a $20 billion program here, and no single advisor could have an adjusted gross income over $200,000 filing as an individual. That would take care of the hedge-fund managers and the arbs, and it would probably protect the athletes from investing in movies.

  2. jb says:

    A worthy subsidy if ever there was one!!….thanks Harry.

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