Private Enterprise versus Free Enterprise

The United States Export-Import Bank is scheduled to expire at the end of June 2015, and the elected representatives of both parties are tripping over themselves to reauthorize it, citing the importance of exports and strong private enterprise to the American economy.

“I’m a very strong supporter of the Ex-Im Bank, because it is a tool for us to be competitive in order to support our businesses exporting,” said Hillary Clinton. “[F]ailure to reauthorize Ex-Im would amount to unilateral disarmament and cost tens of thousands of American jobs,” commented Harry Reid. It would seem that Democrats are eager to claim the mantle traditionally applied to Republicans of “The Party of Business.” But there is a difference between being pro-business and being pro-markets.

In his book, Reassessing the Presidency: The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom, libertarian attorney and historian John V. Denson observes, “Many businessmen and bankers believe in private enterprise but do not believe in free enterprise” (emphasis in the original).