Isn’t it bad enough that only 9% of Americans approve of Congress as far as their job performance is concerned? The latest revelation about our elected political class is enough to make most voters sick to their collective stomachs. Amazingly enough, it’s something that has been kept quiet for decades and that makes me wonder why? The media, I am sure has been aware of this Congressional perk but has never made a case or even a stink out of it.
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Last week a television news program revealed that members of Congress enjoyed a license to steal. Now, we all know that today’s Congressman is tomorrow’s lobbyist…however; the type of theft that I am talking about is even more blatant. Members of Congress can trade on non-public information in their investment accounts. You read that right. They can trade on inside information, the kind that put Ivan Boesky and Raj Rajaratnam in the slammer.
I am sure, however, that none of our noble leadership has ever engaged in such a practice, after all their purpose is to serve the American people not themselves…right?
Well, apparently that’s not the case. The program documented several instances of insider dealings in the stock market and outside the market as well. One interesting case was that of a Congressman who was worth about $200,000 when he entered the hallowed chambers on Pennsylvania Avenue only to leave eight years later worth a cool $2 million – who knew the job paid so well? Turns out he managed to earmark a chunk of change for a freeway that just happened to be really close to a piece of land that he owned. Now, had he kept the land, it would have been a little less obvious. He flipped the property within months of the announced project.
It turns out that this “loophole” is quite non-partisan with Republicans and Democrats alike abusing their respective positions. This abuse extends even further when you consider the Congressional staffers, aids, families, and acquaintances that somehow also come in contact with such information. I was at a hotel in West Virginia recently, one that had a bunker for members of Congress in case of a nuclear attack. Just that bunker was built to house 1,500 people – members of Congress and their immediate staff.
When Richard Nixon left office he proclaimed that he was not a crook. It seems that ever since that day in the 70s, we have lost faith in our politicians to be anything but self-serving. As much as we try to believe them and hope they are looking out for our interests, it seems that we are destined to be disappointed time and again by their greed and lack of respect for any institution, let alone that that is considered among the highest in the land.
Each politician whether elected or appointed, to any office in the United States, should be barred from trading on non-public information. It is wrong. End of story.
Almost Too Good to Be True
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