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Talking About Private Government: A Review of the Economic Claims Made to Rebut Anderson’s Analysis


In Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk About It), Elizabeth Anderson argues that most people in the United States and other liberal societies spend their working lives under the kind of autocratic rule we would normally associate with communist dictatorships. They are forced to work in oppressive environments, deprived of many freedoms, and given practically no say over working conditions. Even in their nonworking lives workers are frequently subjected to employer scrutiny and sanction. And the legal framework and economic realities surrounding employment are such that exit is viable for only a small minority. Anderson’s work has generated great interest and, along with it, several criticisms that take exception to her observations, economic assumptions, and conclusions. This paper delineates the various economic claims made against Private Government so as to facilitate further inquiry of these issues.

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