The post immediately below argues that we could achieve something worthwhile by changing the ‘default setting’ of our superannuation contributions. Namely we could require that the level of super contribution required from someone who doesn’t make any active election is not 9% as is now required under our compulsory super regime, but say 15% or some other figure. The US literature on savings habits
suggests this utilisation of inertia and procrastination and associated redefinition of normality can be powerful.
Even without appealing to these effects the power of inertia and of psychological ‘anchoring’ there’s another effect that’s important. The minimisation of transaction costs. (Maybe some people think that that’s covered by inertia, but it’s a minor quibble maybe they’re right). In any event the example I’m thinking of is copyright law that strikes me as absurdly cumbersome. Most of the debate is focused on how constraining copyright should be and how wide ‘fair use’ doctrines should be.
But with the rise of Creative Commons I would have thought that a fair bit of good could be done by making some CC licence the default and requiring those seeking to claim stronger copyright to simply declare their intention. We can go on having debates about the breadth of copyright protection and the breadth of defences of ‘fair use’. But in the meantime, life would be made a lot easier for those seeking to copy work in which there is no explicit claim of copyright.
I’d like to write a column on this as this kind of change will generally be pretty politically easy. I wonder if people can suggest other areas in which a small tweak of the ‘default option’ would be worth pursuing.