Thursday, June 08, 2006

A Fundamental Mistake

Dean Baker, in his The Conservative Nanny State, states the case for how conservative economic policy is designed to redistribute income upwards. He points out the reason conservatives have been so successful in promoting this policy is because they have convinced many people that they are arguing for market outcomes. Anyone who opposes their program is a proponent of big government intervention in market outcomes.

The irony is that conservatives don’t believe in the ability of markets to consistently redistribute income upwards. Conservatives promote big government programs that subvert market outcomes to assure the result. The programs and agencies of government that redistribute income upward work very well, and happen to be very big. On the other hand, those agencies that protect and promote the interests of the working class citizen don’t work well at all. Think of Katrina and other natural and manmade disasters such as the new drug benefit.

Baker believes that calling conservative economic policy market fundamentalism is a mistake, one that conservatives like to see people on the left make. It obfuscates what is really going on with the conservative agenda, which is the design and implementation of big government programs to achieve their desired results. Conservatives can more conveniently shield their real intentions when they mask their aims behind a rhetoric of free markets and free trade. The job gets much easier for conservatives when their opponents buy into that same rhetoric.

I think it is a point well taken.


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