The Conservative Nanny State

Check out this book by Dean Baker, economist at Center for Economic & Policy Research,, published by Creative Commons (2006). Baker argues that progressives should reject the “government vs market” frame, which is strategic and ideological move rather than an accurate description of current right-wing economic policies.

[I also make this argument frequently in my writing, see e.g., Deconstructing the State/Market Divide: The Rhetoric of Regulation from Workers’ Compensation to the WTO (book chapter), in Feminism Confronts Homo Economicus: Gender, Economics and the Law (Martha A. Fineman & Terence Dougherty, eds.) (Cornell Univ. Press 2005)].

For example, Baker criticizes academics, the media and liberals and progressives for accepting the clever conservative framing of trade policy issues as free trade versus protectionism. Baker observes that calling opponents of free trade “protectiionists” is “like having the New York Times refer to the opponents of the MX missle as “warmongers”” simply because the Reagan administration named the missle the “Peacekeeper.” As Baker explains, one of the main purposes of NAFTA, CAFTA and other recent trade agreements is to increase patent protection (“increasing the length and force of government monopolies.”) “Whether or not incresasing patent protection is desireable policy, it is clearly not ‘free trade.'” (Baker, introduction p. 1-3).


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