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Thursday 31 March 2011

The Libertarian Ambiguity

You may not have heard of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and if so, you’d be in good company: not even in the USA, where it is based, is it well known. But thanks to Talking Points Memo, a little light is now being shone on this libertarian body, thanks mainly to a recent spate of Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

The Mackinac Center has previously gone after emails from schoolteachers that mentioned the possibility of a strike, which should give an idea of where they’re coming from. Its donors include the Koch brothers, who are all for anything libertarian, and against anything called Government.

This time, their FOIA request was for the following: “’Scott Walker’ [Governor of Wisconsin], ‘Wisconsin’, ‘Madison’, ‘Maddow’ [you read that right] and ‘Any other emails dealing with the collective bargaining situation in Wisconsin’”. The request was directed to three state Universities in Michigan, and covered the whole of 2011 up to March 25.

One might be forgiven for viewing this as an authoritarian, rather than a libertarian, move, and the inclusion of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow in the search term list appears strange. Maddow commented on the disclosure that “some days, my job is weirder than others”.

There is also the possibility that Maddow has been targeted as she has been highlighting a controversial piece of Michigan state legislation on her show. But the attempted trawl of emails looks plain intrusive. As Maddow put it, in a comment aimed directly at the Mackinac Center and the rest of the libertarian firmament, “how’s that leave me alone personal liberty thing working out for you?”.

1 comment:

Neil said...

Fair enough, but it is at least consistent with Libertarian thinking. They don't consider state employees to be full 'persons' (not even two thirds, I suspect!) - therefore personal liberty does not apply to anyone employed by the state.

Ditto anyone who disagrees with their politics. This is why they see no problem with drawing up McCarthy-esque blacklists.