Monday, February 09, 2009
Jeff Madrick from the Economic Policy Institute has written a book called The Case for Big Government which is dedicated to explaining how an active and capable state sector is a necessary precondition for economic growth. David Kusnets gave it a positive review in The New York Times Book Review. Donna Wiesner Keese, from the Independent Women’s Forum, a conservative anti-feminist group, objected:
Madrick’s statement, quoted by the reviewer, that “there really is no example of small government among rich nations,” is unsupported nonsense. Think Dubai, free and rich.As Rick Hertzberg says this is a bit of a bizarre counterexample:
I mean no disrespect to the 240,000 citizens of Dubai (its other 1.2 million residents are imported workers, hundreds of thousands of whom live in “collective labor accommodations”), but is this the best Mrs. Keene can do? Not even a “nation” but a province of the United Arab Emirates, specializing in real-estate and financial-services bubbledom?There’s also the question of why you would describe Dubai as “free.” Or, rather, I understand perfectly well why she describes it as “free” — it’s a straightforward consequence of the right-wing’s sick obsession with reducing the level of taxes rich people need to pay as the prime virtue of politics. For from being free, Dubai is ruled by a dictator, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, dignified with royal title in virtue of the fact that he inherited his political power from relatives rather than seizing it of his own accord. The State Department certainly doesn’t seem to think that his subjects, or those of the other UAE component emirates, are all that free...(Click for remainder).
Again, no disrespect, but the UAE’s role vis-à-vis the non-oil-extracting rich nations falls somewhere between that of a welfare recipient and that of an extortionist. Or—speaking of “independent women”—a bit like the role of Alaska within the United States.