There’s not a dime’s worth of difference anymore between two American political parties. No, not the Democrats and the Republicans – the Democrats and the Libertarians. There was a time when being a Libertarian (with the big L) meant you scored somewhere in the libertarian (with a small l) corner of a thing called the Nolan quiz. For those not familiar with it, the quiz charts your political view on two axes of freedom – Economic Issues and Personal Issues. Libertarians are people who fundamentally favor freedom over government interference in both areas.
One of the questions on the economic axis is “End government barriers to international free trade – Agree, Disagree or Maybe.” For those Limbaugh listeners in Rio Linda, the libertarian answer is “Agree”, the Republican answer is also “Agree”, the Democratic answer is “Maybe” and the new Libertarian Party answer also seems to be “Maybe”.
Now the question of government barriers to international free trade ought to be even less of a no-brainer for libertarians when the trade involved is the purchase of one foreign company by another foreign company. The idea that the United States government should have any role whatsoever ought to be beyond question in honest Libertarian discourse. But a recent review of the “Libertarian” section of the blogosphere seems to favor the United States Government taking on the role of Economic Policeman not just at home but also as – you got it – Economic Policeman of the World.
Checking in with the national Libertarian Party, “The Party of Principle,” at their homepage, I find a poll that shows 56% voting “No” on the question “Should the federal government allow an Arab company to control the seaports in six American cities?”. (Understandably this poorly worded question could be construed as meaning that 56% of Libertarians don’t think ANYBODY ought to “control” the ports let alone an Arab company, but Libertarians are smarter than that. What’s actually been proposed is not turning over “control” in the sense of governance, but allowing an Arab company to take over a British company’s lease of a large number of berths at the six ports.) It’s an open poll, but the politically slanted question was the closest thing to an official Libertarian Party comment on the issue that I could find.
Earlier I noted that the Democrats’ real motive in the question of allowing Dubai Ports World to purchase operational control of a portion of the terminals at 6 additional US ports was to politically damage the Bush administration. Well, at least some very vocal Libertarians, so pure of heart and motive that they often can’t even bring themselves to vote for the “lesser of two evils”, are now engaging in the same base political gamesmanship in spite of the President doing what their principles call for.