When the senior executives of U.S. corporations trade stock in their companies on the basis of insider information, they risk lengthy jail sentences for criminal behavior. If the United States was a country governed by the rule of law, the political classes would be governed by the same laws. Unfortunately, the United States is a country governed by the rule of men, not the rule of law. So the political classes are free to make themselves wealthy via virtually unconstrained insider trading.
“One-hundred-thirty members of Congress or their families have traded stocks collectively worth hundreds of millions of dollars in companies lobbying on bills that came before their committees, a practice that is permitted under current ethics rules, … The lawmakers bought and sold a total of between $85 million and $218 million in 323 companies registered to lobby on legislation that appeared before them, according to an examination of all 45,000 individual congressional stock transactions contained in computerized financial disclosure data from 2007 to 2010. Almost one in every eight trades – 5,531 – intersected with legislation. The 130 lawmakers traded stocks or bonds in companies as bills passed through their committees or while Congress was still considering the legislation. The party affiliation of the lawmakers was almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, 68 to 62.” Dan Keating, David S. Fallis, Kimberly Kindy and scott Higham, ‘Legislators traded millions in stock they could impact’, The Washington Post, June 24, 2012
Many of my columns illustrate the venality of politicians, arguably the worst species to inhabit the planet, the most amoral, the greediest for personal wealth, stolen from their constituents, and the least fazed in pursuing endeavors prohibited, by their own laws, to other members of their nation. Insider trading is just one more despicable abuse of political power.
Any politician who fails to assemble his assets in a blind trust for the duration of his term of office should be removed from Congress forever. To achieve such a goal is extremely difficult, because the foxes are already patrolling the corridors of the hen house.
Not much of a Midsummers Day message, I am afraid, folks. If ever you find yourself walking within contamination distance of the U.S. Capitol, make sure that you bathe thoroughly with antiseptic soap when you return home!