According to a superficial view of politics held by some, “conservative” tends to imply “pro-business.” This identification conceals a number of crucial distinctions. In my view, one essential component of conservatism is advocacy of limited government. And genuine advocates of limited government do not embrace “pro-business” policies if that means government intervention in the market to aid particular companies or industries or to penalize others.

Burton Folsom, in his important 1987 book (reprinted at least twice since), The Myth of the Robber Barons, applied this insight to the history of American business, distinguishing between real entrepreneurs and business executives who used state power to promote their interests.

The distinction is given a contemporary treatment in a new book, The Big Ripoff, by Timothy Carney. “This book shows,” he writes in the book’s first chapter, “that the two most powerful characters in America—big business and big government—are in cahoots. You are their target.” Sounds as though it might provide some thrills to those for whom expanding government is as scary as any horror flick.