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

By Dean Baker
A free e-book (2006)

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 social outcomes – decent wages, good jobs and affordable health care

"Here is the brutal truth, exposed systematically, methodically, unsparingly. Forget the pork rinds and the hokey Texas twang: Conservative government is government by and for the upper class."

Thomas Frank, author of What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America

"Dean Baker is one of the most insightful and original economists in Washington. With this book, he exposes the prevailing myth of modern conservatives. They are not for limited government, as they claim. Rather, they are for a government that helps their own. Baker says it is time to balance the books. Government is by all the people, for all the people. It's that simple."

Jeff Madrick, author of Why Economies Grow: The Forces That Shape Prosperity and How We Can Get Them Working Again

"There’s a new book from Dean Baker available as a free PDF download or in paperback if you're so inclined. It's fantastic... It would be a wonderful thing to start getting attention to some of the issues he raises. At the end of the day, the current Democratic agenda of raising the minimum wage and re-establishing pay-as-you-go budget rules is a bit unambitious."

Matthew Yglesias, The American Prospect

"In his recent book, The Conservative Nanny State, the economist Dean Baker argues that government nannyism, broadly defined, benefits the rich. So there is no point in pretending that government doesn't influence behavior."

Daniel Akst, The New York Times, July 23, 2006

"[The book] examines massive government interventions in the market—including immigration, trade, monetary and intellectual property policy—and notes how they all have the curious effect of making America's wealthiest people even more stupendously rich. And as if this weren't bad enough, Baker has made The Conservative Nanny State available for free as a pdf (or at low cost as a paperback). Clearly he's a madman who'll stop at nothing."

Jonathan Schwarz,

"Baker knows what the phrase "free market" really means, and in his new book, The Conservative Nanny State (which you can purchase in paperback or download as an e-book free of charge), he lays waste to the notion that American conservatives embrace anything resembling a truly free market. In fact, they're perverse Marxists, using heavy-handed government intervention to redistribute wealth upward."

Joshua Holland, , AlterNet

"Baker does not use the term "crony capitalism" to describe the conservative economic agenda, but it is surely in the spirit of his argument. Skimming through the book shows that, to a degree, cronyism is in the eye of the beholder. For example, Baker takes aim at copyright and patent protection, expressing a view of intellectual property very different from mine…Because my textbooks are copyrighted, I suppose that I am a crony, using the power of the "conservative nanny state" to enrich myself as the expense of poor students around the world. Although I disagree with Baker on a wide range of topics, I will give him credit for one thing: He is not a hypocrite. Baker is distributing his new book free over the internet. As for me, if you want one of my books, you will have to fork over the cash."

Greg Mankiw, Harvard University

"Dean Baker has done us all a great service by exposing the counterfeit language pundits and politicians use to hide who really gets what in our economy. The biggest welfare chiselers, it turns out, are the corporate rich. This excellent book convincingly shows that the fundamental issue about government is not its size, but whose side it is on."

Jeff Faux, Economic Policy Institute

"More good ideas than a dozen Center for American Progress symposia. New America Foundation, this should make you feel old. If a million Kossacks typed on a million keyboards, eventually they would duplicate it. Eat your heart out, Hamilton Project. 113 pp. and a free download."

Max Sawicky, Max Speak, You Listen!

"Dean Baker is an innovative political thinker and has a gift for presenting economic issues in a clear, coherent way. He is particularly good at unmasking the hidden assumptions built into the political discourse about economic issues, and demonstrating how those assumptions, if unchallenged, will continue to put progressives on the defensive and, in the process, inflict economic damage on the country as a whole... The book provides a handy guide to exposing conservative reliance on government intervention into the market economy. It may well change the way you think about economics, markets and the like"

Daily Kos

"Baker had me from the preface…Writing for the layman, he puts the last 25 years of economic policy into a framework that cleverly repositions the terms of debate. Once one can point out that the so-called free market does not exist, and in fact is being warped and twisted by the right far more than by the left, one becomes much more potent on the ideological battlefield. So next time you feel like picking a bar fight on the topic of inflation, read a chapter or two of "The Conservative Nanny State" first. You'll be well armed."

Andrew Leonard, Salon

"My favorite economist, Dean Baker (I want his rookie card!), has just put out a free PDF of his latest book, The Conservative Nanny State. I would urge everyone to read this book -- it's not all directly related to environmental causes, but some of it is. More broadly, there's an obvious moral: The system we live in is, to an enormous extent, determined by government policies. Understanding that, and understanding how the apparatus of the state is tilted towards the already-wealthy, is crucial to any progressive cause"

John McGrath, Gristmill