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The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer
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The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  148 ratings  ·  24 reviews
In his new book, economist Dean Baker debunks the myth that conservatives favor the market over government intervention. In fact, conservatives rely on a range of "nanny state" policies that ensure the rich get richer while leaving most Americans worse off. It's time for the rules to change. Sound economic policy should harness the market in ways that produce desirable soc ...more
Paperback, 120 pages
Published July 24th 2006 by Center for Economic and Policy Research (first published July 18th 2006)
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Sep 29, 2007 Lynn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in politics
Most people I know realize that the so-called conservatives who run this country aren't really for small government, they just want government to be small when it comes to helping poor and middle-class people. They are all for big government when it comes to helping out large corporations and the super - rich.

But sometimes it is hard to follow the arguments all the way through. This slim little volume helps you do that, so when you have to deal with right-wing Uncle Fred or Aunt Dorothy at Thank
Melissa Knight
I greatly recommend this book to all liberals, as well as for conservatives who don't mind some constructive criticism. Lays out a number of ways in which both Democrats and Republicans create mechanisms to subsidize the wealthy, while portraying the lower and middle-classes as parasitic ne'er-do-wells. Topics include farm subsidies, the privilege of limited liability granted by corporation status, and the manipulation of the federal funds rate by the Fed, among others. Sounds dry, but it is a q ...more
Bruce Sanders
This is a nice little primer on how the wealthy use the government to subvert free market capitalism and cause wealth to redistributed upward on a grand scale (not down as conservative mythology would have you believe). The book is short (107 p.) and clearly written. If economics plays any role in how you vote; this book is a must read. The author, Dean Baker, an economist at the Center for Economic Policy, also has an excellent blog, Beat the Press, which critiques news articles covering econom ...more
Kristi Richardson
This was a free book I was able to get from I learned a lot of information from this book but it really isn't my favorite subject, so I found it difficult to absorb all the information.

The premise of the book is the Conservatives in the United States have been able to frame the discussions on budget by claiming that they want less government, and the Liberals want more. In reality both want as much government, it's just the Conservative's want their government to protect the busine
Ed [Redacted]
Mostly interesting book concluding that American conservatives, rather than being against government intervention like they claim, are actually only in favor of government intervention which further enriches the wealthy. The book has some good arguments (and some weak ones) but is fairly forgettable in the end.
This book has one purpose: to combat the idea of "Liberals like government intervention, conservatives like market solutions". In fact, most conservatives like government intervention, but not for social safety nets; instead, they want the government to help distribute income to some of society's most well-off members.

The book is easy to read, and makes its case quite well. As one example of government intervention that conservatives typically like, the book mentions trade agreements that limit
My dad reads this guy's blog so that gives it some extra street-cred as a substatial source of info. Its some bust-the-wealthy economics.

This was so short and so informative! Prof Baker makes very clear the instances where our economy is set up to encourage free trade, such as for most blue collar jobs but is protectionist of the white collar (through restricitve licensing or patent laws). He really nails at the idea that the neoConservative agenda is full of the rhetoric of having a less regula
Adam Shields
Short review: This is alternative economics. A liberal economist that is more free markets on some issues that most conservatives, but not on others. The real strength of this book is way that it frames economic issues differently than how most other economists do. Most of the policy suggestions are not politically viable, but it does show there are options. If you are a liberal, read this for a different perspective on how to be liberal but still support the free market. If you are conservative ...more
Samantha M.
Ha, of course this was written by a guy who got his doctorate from the University of Michigan. His anger and derision for "conservatives" is obvious to the point of distraction. However, I found his arguments fascinating and compelling.
The writing was reminiscent of those late nights with a lot of wine, and there is one guest that is pedantic and "soapboxy" who won't stop loudly proclaiming his opinions. Not all of the connections connect, and some of his facts stretch pretty far. In spite of that, I gave this book three stars because he did manage to make me think about some issues in a totally different way. For example, why are small businesses treated as a sacred cow by liberals and conservatives alike? Should they be? Sho ...more
King Rat
Baker’s argument is that the conservative vision depends as much or more on government intervention in the market than the liberal vision does. The book is pretty convincing in making that argument. Examples include deliberate trade policy geared toward the wealthy, "small business" incentives, and intellectual property laws that create property rights out of thin air. Baker does a bang-up job poking holes in the conservative myths as well as pointing out many of the problems with our government ...more
So boring I had to quit.
One of the great conservative myths of the Cold War was that conservatives like small government. Conservatives have always bloated the state and used it to enrich themselves, all while having the gall to denounce democrats as socialists. When thinking of conservatism vs. liberalism, the question is simply which state socialism do you want? In this book, Baker does a grand job showing how conservatives continue to use the state to hold onto wealth and get richer. It's a short,clear read.
Anascape Taylor
Fantastic. I can't say I agreed with absolutely every piece of this book, but overall it is a remarkable primer on political economics. This is a great time for thoughtful Americans to start questioning our assumptions about the market. What potential solutions are we routinely dismissing? That is one of the best things about this book: it offers SOLUTIONS, which are so often missing from books that question the status quo.
This book took a very interesting premise I.E. that modern conservatives do not want a small government as much as a government that keeps them rich. Unfortunately it didn't do a very good job selling it's premise, a lot of it is conjecture of motives inferred from actions. With that being said, some sections stand out to me as being particularly well thought through such as the efficiency of the patent system.
Dec 30, 2008 Lee added it
An awesome, savage attack on conservative "protectionism." Some of his chapters could have stood to be longer and more detailed in their arguments. Baker is too quick, I think, to dismiss criticism of markets, though he is clearly not a "free market" type, even as he mocks conservatives who claim to be pro-market for not living up to their own supposed ideals. Conservative nanny state, indeed.
Jeff Hauser
Concise and powerful, Baker does a great job of shredding the unnoticed assumptions of contemporary "capitalism" in which the most effective rent-seekers hide in plain sight. (non-fiction version of Mieville's City & the City?)

Provocative and with little to no fat, a must read.
Available for free by the author here:

"The attitude of the nanny state conservatives toward tax evasion can be difficult to follow for those who both pay their taxes and know arithmetic."

Go Baker.
a brief polemic whose goal is thwart well-worn meme that conservatives favor small government. baker outlines the numerous circumstances where conservatives are all for government - as long as it happens to disproportionately reward the well off.
Dan Shaw
Capitalism has been subverted into something it was never meant to be by a few hell-bent to control all the marbles
Jim Ader
Some interesting ideas, but over the top. Narration was mechanical and stilted making very difficult to listen too.
David Kaib
Every progressive should read this book. And you can get it for free on line.
Andrew Obrigewitsch
An interesting look at modern politics and some it's biggest contradictions.
Brittany Petruzzi
The content is good, the tone obnoxious.
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Dean Baker is an American macroeconomist and co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, with Mark Weisbrot. He previously was a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an assistant professor of economics at Bucknell University. He has a PhD in economics from the University of Michigan.
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