The outright theft under the protection of "do-nothingism" will flourish.
Corruption and Do-Nothingness in Government
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This past week saw the consequences of when the defecation hits the ventilation in our less-than-illustrious legislative monstrosity, more commonly known as the Congress of the United States, when Peter Schweizer’s new book, “Throw Them All Out” hit the streets. This book, when coupled with a memoir by the just-recently-released-from-prison lobbyist Jack Abramoff, “both shed light on the degree to which members of Congress profited from trading stocks that were directly affected by pending government policy” according to Yahoo.com News writer Zachary Karabell on November 15, 2011.
This expose’ on insider trading of stocks covers members of different political affiliations and as Karabell states, “the scandal here is what is legal.” To paraphrase and shorten, ‘SEC and federal prosecutors have gone after market insider trading bringing down hedge-fund managers; but strangely (or maybe not) these laws do not apply to our Congress-critters. This group has exempted itself from the definition of illegal insider trading because they trade on information not available to the public but which is available to them as elected representatives.
No, they have not broken the law, only taken advantage of privileged information, not for other persons, as a result of their own rule making.
This is considered highly unethical and morally incorrect actions as makers of policy. Their trading records are better than average, as Karabell points out, showing that congressional representatives (and their staffs) outperform by as much as 25 percent, possibly due to trading in familiar industries and better educations.
This does not always guarantee that the stocks will soar or even make money on the investment, but again, as Karabell points out, those big-ticket and well publicized items such as “agricultural spending, health-care budgets,
highway bills, and assorted regulations does tend to move stocks in the days after the announcement, and having inside knowledge of what those announcements are, when they will be made public, and what companies will be
affected provides a massive edge” along with massive profits to the insider investor.
My guess is that there are many instances of citizens running for congressional seats on the proverbial “shoestring” of personal finances and being successful in accomplishing the election to become a United States Representative or Senator in spite of low personal income. But have you noticed that after a period of time, usually a very short period of time, that legislator begins to show signs of inordinately increased wealth? And
it doesn’t always have to be a legislator as the convulsion of enrichment is found in the Executive Branch of President and presidential appointees as well.
This is certainly not an all-encompassing malady as not all salons or government officials partake of the investment golden pathway, due to higher ethics or fear of the “gambling syndrome” where heavy losses are not sustainable to the individual; but the opportunity is certainly there, and it is not easy to get these elected officials to put a stop to the potential of “cashing in” on a perk not available to normal non-governmental persons. It is similar to trying to get legislators to endorse and vote for term limits.
The golden goose of longevity is too readily acceptable to abolish and go home to the old 8-to-5 routine. Though, such efforts have been attempted as in 2006 when a bill banning trading on insider knowledge pending legislation
died of inertia. Author Karabell says that “Now there is talk of reviving the bill. It should go somewhere.”
There are others besides Schweizer and Abramoff who are clamoring for reform in this area of the absence of moral principles or unwillingness to adhere to proper rules of conduct. On November 18, 2011, on Newsmax.com, writer
David A. Patten authored “Congress Rife With ‘Entrenched Corruption’ from Sarah Palin, “Former Alaska governor and GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin blasted rampant corruption in the marbled halls of Congress Friday, calling it an “endemic problem” affecting both parties. “The only solution to entrenched corruption is sudden and relentless reform,” she wrote.”
Governor Palin’s remarks as noted by David A Patten came in an op-ed column in The Wall Street Journal in response to revelations this week that Congress has exempted itself from the prohibitions against insider trading.
Under current law, members of Congress are free to profit off of equity swings tied to pending legislative actions decisions they are privy to as members of Congress.”
“The very idea that politicians trade stocks while they are considering major bills comes as a shock to many people, but it is standard practice in Washington,” Schweizer writes in his book. As to Palin’s WSJ column, he
tells Newsmax: “Governor Palin understands how Washington works and the battle that needs to be fought.”
All this is well said, but until and unless Congress is ready and willing to reduce their already over-bloated payrolls, and this can also be said of the Administration personnel, the outright theft under the protection of “do-nothingism” will flourish.