About that "free-market fundamentalism"

News & Politics

I agree with what Ruth Rosen writes on today's front page about challenging the right's worship of "free markets," but I also want to remind readers of a different perspective in terms of how best to "frame" the issue.

Here are some choice bits addressing that questiont from a chat I had last year with economist Dean Baker.

Joshua Holland: You say that conservatives are not, in fact, self-reliant fans of free-markets. Lay out your thesis in a nutshell.

Dean Baker: Well that's the stereotype -- that conservatives are willing to take the hard knocks when they come -- but in my book I argue that what the conservatives have done is they've rigged the deck. They've made sure that certain people come out ahead, that income flows upward, and that other people are put at a disadvantage -- and these things are built into the rules of the system. And then what they want to do -- in talking about "free markets" -- is they want to kick back and say, "No, no, no; those are the rules, and we can't talk about them." They don't want to talk about how the deck is rigged; they want us to fight over the small scraps.

Holland: You think that liberals shouldn't shy away from markets, just that we have to point out how the "conservative nanny state" has rigged the game. Explain.

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