The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Aug 5, 2008 - Political Science - 208 pages
3 Reviews
The cult of the free market has dominated economic policy-talk since the Reagan revolution of nearly thirty years ago. Tax cuts and small government, monetarism, balanced budgets, deregulation, and free trade are the core elements of this dogma, a dogma so successful that even many liberals accept it. But a funny thing happened on the bridge to the twenty-first century. While liberals continue to bow before the free-market altar, conservatives in the style of George W. Bush have abandoned it altogether. That is why principled conservatives -- the Reagan true believers -- long ago abandoned Bush.

Enter James K. Galbraith, the iconoclastic economist. In this riveting book, Galbraith first dissects the stale remains of Reaganism and shows how Bush and company had no choice except to dump them into the trash. He then explores the true nature of the Bush regime: a "corporate republic," bringing the methods and mentality of big business to public life; a coalition of lobbies, doing the bidding of clients in the oil, mining, military, pharmaceutical, agribusiness, insurance, and media industries; and a predator state, intent not on reducing government but rather on diverting public cash into private hands. In plain English, the Republican Party has been hijacked by political leaders who long since stopped caring if reality conformed to their message.

Galbraith follows with an impertinent question: if conservatives no longer take free markets seriously, why should liberals? Why keep liberal thought in the straitjacket of pay-as-you-go, of assigning inflation control to the Federal Reserve, of attempting to "make markets work"? Why not build a new economic policy based on what is really happening in this country?

The real economy is not a free-market economy. It is a complex combination of private and public institutions, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, higher education, the housing finance system, and a vast federal research establishment. The real problems and challenges -- inequality, climate change, the infrastructure deficit, the subprime crisis, and the future of the dollar -- are problems that cannot be solved by incantations about the market. They will be solved only with planning, with standards and other policies that transcend and even transform markets.

A timely, provocative work whose message will endure beyond this election season, The Predator State will appeal to the broad audience of thoughtful Americans who wish to understand the forces at work in our economy and culture and who seek to live in a nation that is both prosperous and progressive.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - slothman - LibraryThing

Galbraith opens his book by making the case for a number of conservative shibboleths (free markets, tax cuts, and even balanced budgets) as belonging to the realm of mythology, rather than reality ... Read full review

Contents

Whatever Happened to the Conservatives?
3
The Freedom to Shop
15
Tax Cuts and the Marvelous Market of the Mind
25
Uncle Miltons War
38
The Impossible Dream of Budget Balance
49
There Is No Such Thing as Free Trade
65
What the Rise of Inequality Is Really About
89
The Enduring New Deal
103
The Corporate Crisis
115
The Rise of the Predator State
126
The Inadequacy of Making Markets Work
151
The Need for Planning
164
Paying for It
196
Index
210
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

James K. Galbraith holds the Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He lives in Austin, Texas. The End of Normal is his first book.

Bibliographic information