July 22, 2008
Election year? Check. Financial crisis? Check. Stalwart defenders of chastity and the middle class on Capital Hill buying into their own demagoguery? Check. Don’t just stand there, DO SOMETHING!
The Wall Street Journal op-ed page nails it again, this time with a look at panicked politicos intending to purge the scourge that is the speculator.
The political class needed to blame somebody for the run-up in energy prices, and settled on “speculators” as the designated villains. The mob grew to include everyone from Barack Obama to John McCain, and Bill O’Reilly to Hugo Chávez. Congress held over 40 hearings this summer. It was cynical, sure, but serious people assumed that the politicians were in on the conceit.
Maybe not. While some kind of crackdown on the U.S. oil futures market is inevitable after so much political agitation, Congress has begun to believe its own demagoguery. The Senate may vote on a bill this week that will drive commodities trading overseas and decrease oversight and market transparency. Call it a Sarbanes-Oxley for energy.