Washington has a self-control problem

Richard Thaler’s latest Economic View column.

As implausible as it may seem, here is a statement that almost everyone in Washington can agree with: Congress has self-control problems. This may just be a sign of democracy. We elect those who share our frailties. We Americans eat too much, take on too much debt, save too little and put off anything mildly unpleasant as long as possible. Psychologists and behavioral economists have studied these kinds of problems for decades. We know, for example, that children have trouble waiting even for a few minutes to get three marshmallows if they can have one now, and they find it particularly hard if they have to look at those luscious treats while waiting.

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