Beat the Press

Dean Baker's commentary on economic reporting


The Conservative Nanny State is Here!

The moment you have all been waiting for has finally arrived. You can download your copy of The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer today. The book is available as a free e-book (read chapter 4 for the reasoning). You will soon be able to order paperback copies at

The book takes issue with the prevailing political metaphor in U.S. politics: that liberals want the government to intervene to promote fairness and equity, while conservatives want to leave outcomes to the market. The book argues that conservatives (or at least those in power) support a wide range of government interventions that have the effect of distributing income upward. This list includes a trade and immigration policy that places less-skilled workers in direct competition with workers in developing countries, while protecting highly paid professionals from the same sort of competition. Another item on the list is Federal Reserve Board policies that deliberately weaken the bargaining power of less-skilled workers in order to keep inflation under control.

A third set of policies involves the use of patents and copyrights – government enforced monopolies – that lead to large economic distortions, and incidentally also allow some people to get very rich. Even corporations themselves owe their existence to the government – there are only individuals out there in strict free market land.

The book is intended to force a rethinking of the relationship between the government and the economy. The current framing -- that liberals like government and conservatives like the market -- works well for those who support the economic policies of the last quarter century. Those who think that we can do better need a new framework.


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