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   The Conservative Nanny State
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
09 May 2010
d for the Elite

This book could easily go un-noticed until one stumbles upon its descriptive second title i.e., how the wealthy use the government to stay rich and get richer? It is a brutal truth that manifests itself in the manner in which governments increasingly work under the influence of corporations. There is conspicuous similarity in which the state has been appropriated by the wealthy, be they conservatives or the liberals.

Drawing parallel between conservatives and liberals, economist Dean Baker contends that it is a myth that conservatives trusts the market and liberals want the government. Conversely, many of the key forms of corporate welfare involve not just the handout of public funds, but interventions in the economy to benefit corporations. How true is the formulation in the Indian context where divergent political ideologies have demonstrated remarkable consistency in favoring the rich?

Not without reason Bill Gates has become incredibly rich. Thanks to state-granted copyright monopoly, all doors of copying were closed on Windows. Any number of examples exists where corporations are completely dependent for their profits on the nanny state's protection from competition. No wonder, the country that is riding the crest of the economy wave has a sizeable populace fighting to just stay afloat!

The poor would be worse off if the rich continue to actively use the power of the government to shape market outcomes in ways that redistribute income upward. There are reasons for doctors to draw higher wages - to force everyone in the country pay more for health care. Salaries of the top executives have soared in recent years at the cost of wage stagnation of ordinary workers. Simply put, the nanny state is increasingly favoring the wealthy.

Through incisive economic insights, Baker argues that it's time for the rules to change. Unless economic policy harnesses the market in ways that produces desirable social outcome, the brewing social discontent will give a severe jolt to the nanny state.

The Conservative Nanny State by Dean Baker,
Center for Economic & Policy Research,
Washington, 113 pages, $ 7.90

 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
15 Aug 2013

Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
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