Great Political Caricature, Courtesy of David Brooks

In his New York Times column today, "Changing Bedfellows", David Brooks did a far better job describing the nanny state conservatives' framing of economics than I could ever hope to do in my book. Of course, he ostensibly was saying how the world actually is, rather than how the nanny state conservatives want us to see it.

According to Brooks, we have the populist nationalists who argue against immigration and trade, and want to ensure workers' security through Social Security and national health care insurance. This group includes Pat Buchanan, Lou Dobbs, Al Sharpton and Kevin Phillips.

On the other side, we have the progressive globalists, who want to expand trade and allow immigration in order to promote economic growth. This group includes Hillary Clinton, Mark Warner, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani.

It's great caricature, a perfect example of the framing that I criticized in my book, The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer [cheap plug]. While the conservative nanny state crew wants us to see the political breakdowns this way, this picture is completely inaccurate. In reality, the "progressive globalists" are scared to death of international competition. This is why they do nothing to eliminate the barriers that prevent doctors, lawyers, accountants and other highly paid professionals in the United States from being forced to compete with their counterparts in the developing world.

The "progressive globalists" believe that international competition should be reserved for less-skilled workers. They don't want their friends and campaign contributors to suffer the same fate as textile workers and autoworkers. It would be nice to just once see a more honest discussion of trade policy from a columnist in the Times, Post, or any other major media outlet.

--Dean Baker

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