Not really sure if this topic has already been covered ad nauseum but I saw it brought up again recently on CNN and I started thinking about it. What do you guys think about the whole controversy surrounding Congress’ ability to use insider trading info gained while acting as a mbr of the govt for personal financial gain?
When the whole topic first came up a while back my initial reaction was “Fuck, I didn’t realize that it wasn’t ALREADY illegal,” and I pretty much have felt that it should be banned since then.
I thought this too. I was like “Really? They’re allowed to do that?” I mean, what’s the difference between regular insider trading, which IS illegal, and Congressional insider trading? Isn’t it essentially the same thing? They’re both acting on info that is not public knowledge.
As for the rest of your post, how do know that the insider trading didn’t lead to some of their wealth? Would they have it if they hadn’t had previous knowledge of financial dealings? [/quote]
I think by and large most members of Congress are already wealthy when they get elected to it, certainly for Senators. But I’m sure that many of them accumulate significant wealth via profitable stock portfolios as a result of congressional insider trading info they’ve gained. But again, I don’t think that’s inherently bad. Remember, the info they get is usually oblique to some sort of other issue before the House or the Senate, like knowledge of a bill that might negatively affect the oil industry so they pull some stock out of ExxonMobil and invest it in a green tech company or something like that. This is separate from actively influencing legislation to benefit their finances, like voting on a bill strictly based on its personal financial impact.
I don’t see anything wrong with it, really. That’s where the Roman analogy comes in. If we expect our political leaders to be wholly devoted to politics and bettering the nation, than they should be of such position that they aren’t worried about their own financial situation. This way they aren’t tempted to use their power for personal acquisitions and they aren’t preoccupied with ways to accomplish this. The money’s in the bank and now they can get down to the business of the country since theirs is squared away. It allows them to devote their full attention to politics, which should be a good thing for the country, provided we elect good leaders.[/quote]
This sounds stupid to me. Why allow them to invest at all then? What’s to prevent them from passing a bill that makes them $1-5 million that’s possibly harmful to their constituents instead of being against it making nothing? It’s interesting that the Romans had that idea, but when has anyone ever said that’s enough money? I think you could argue the more money they have the more they could make insider trading and the more tempted they’d be to make those bad decisions. You don’t all of a sudden become a multimillionaire or a billionaire and stop being greedy.[/quote]
If being greedy and being a multimillionaire or a billionaire came hand in hand, I’d agree. But just because one is rich doesn’t mean that they are automatically greedy or that a sheer devotion to greed and the accumulation of wealth is the way they became rich.
So perhaps we as voters should do more to ensure that we find those that are rich but not driven by wealth or a desire to acquire more of it via politics when we look for political leaders.
[/quote]The problem is there is no way to tell this and there probably wouldn’t be enough strong leaders out there who would be incorruptible to fill all the positions in the government.
[quote]Look, all I’m saying here is that if they’re so predisposed toward greed, why even bother with any sort of regulations against them? Or why not get rid of them entirely? They’re powerful enough to make it happen for themselves and they’re powerful enough to get away with it for a while and the penalty isn’t that harsh, especially if you’ve managed to squirrel away a bunch of it for when you get out of prison in a year and a half. If they’re so driven by greed, why do anything at all to stop it? If they have this insatiable need for corruption or accumulation of wealth via circumspect methods, why not just provide them with an outlet for this in the form of insider trading in the hopes that this quells their appetite and it doesn’t spill over into their legislative duties?[/quote]Yes, but if you eliminate the ability to trade doesn’t that prevent them from being tempted by money in legislation? Of course this wouldn’t stop them from having someone else trade for them. I really can’t think of a better system to be honest. And I think what you describe is one of the reasons every empire has failed throughout history. Corrupt leaders. Of course no one wants to deal with the corruption in government. And it’s unpatriotic to criticize the government.