Kevin Drum says he doesn't see why the sale of operations of six American ports to Dubai Ports World, a shipping company owned by the United Arab Emirates, is such a scandal. After all, the company wouldn't even be handling port security in those ports; the Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Security would. Plus, over 30 percent of this country's port terminals are already operated by foreign companies anyway. And DPW already does this sort of thing in ports all over the world, and other countries seem okay with that. Okay, I'll buy all that.
But The Nation's John Nichols, meanwhile, asks an interesting question: Why are ports run by corporations at all? Shouldn't this sort of vital national infrastructure be operated and run by the government? Well, my understanding here is that ports are run by the government, mostly: port operations (i.e., moving ships in and out of terminals) are handled by corporations, true, but the regulatory apparatus (i.e., security, customs, licensing, etc.) is handled by the state, and all major U.S. ports are owned by public port authorities, which oversee development, construction, port policies, etc.