Can You Spot the Free Marketeer?

Let’s play a game.  Reading the two quotes below, can you guess which one is by New York governor Andrew Cuomo, the liberal son of a prominent Democratic governor, and which one is by New Jersey governor Chris Christie, the budget-slashing Republican who was celebrated by the Cato Institute?

Quote 1:

We will not hesitate to impose the strictest penalties on profiteers who, in direct violation of our consumer protection laws, seek to capitalize on the misfortune of others in the midst of a crisis and recovery period.

Quote 2:

“Do not try to take advantage of [our citizens],” he said, stating that if the state believes public energy and transport companies are not being diligent or doing the right thing, they could lose their certification.

Click on the links for the answer.

We might call this phenomenon “the Chris Christie effect.”  That is, it is very nice to talk about the beauty of free markets when you’re speaking to a room full of avid Republican convention delegates.  But what really matters is how you act when you actually have the opportunity to pursue a genuinely libertarian response to a real crisis.

Chris Christie has shown that, whatever he thinks of the theoretical value of free markets, he won’t trust them in practice.  I have the feeling that most other Republican politicians would do the same, if they were faced with a similar option.  But as I’ve mentioned earlier, theory is meaningless if it doesn’t lead to beneficial practical consequences.  It doesn’t matter how you talk; all that matters is how you act.

So remember Chris Christie–convention-hall libertarian, governing statist–if you’re planning on voting tomorrow for the lesser of two evils.

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