For global investors, turmoil in credit markets and economic deceleration aren't the only causes for worry. Political hostility toward market freedom in the US represents strong inducement not to expose capital to risk.
From the country that should lead the world in its commitment to robust markets come troubling signals of government intrusion.
Democrats seeking their party's presidential nomination, for example, sound increasingly like socialists.
Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois would nationalize health care and extend the nationalization of energy choice that began with the Energy Policy Act of 2005—she by taxing oil to pay for government-sponsored energy, he by spending $150 billion of public money on uneconomic fuel.
They disparage the North American Free Trade Agreement and other manifestations of international commerce (see Clinton's recent tirade against the supposed menace of outsourcing).
And what about the tax increase that will clobber the US economy if rate cuts aren't extended in 2010? Under a President Clinton or Obama, it's a done deal.
Even before the presidential election, economic horror looms. As fast as it can, Congress is replacing economic energy with the other kind and, in one of history's grandest political lies, calling it a good deal for consumers. And the scale of economic sacrifice that Americans will be forced to make to their revved-up fears about global-warming remains undetermined.
Now private companies are on notice that politicians have a say in how much money they make and how they invest it.
That's the message from the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, the Democratic chairman of which on Apr. 1 lambasted oil-company profits for being too large and specific companies for not investing enough in renewable energy.
In yet another hearing in which politicians pretend to want yet refuse to listen to energy facts, Chairman Ed Markey of Massachusetts gave a new name to the current US approach to energy: the "renewable revolution."
That's cute but not descriptive. What's happening with energy aligns with a broader political assault on economic freedom and should be called what it is: swindle.
(Online Apr. 4, 2008; editor's e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)