Lacey Smith

What’s SO WRONG in Washington

In Current Events, Politics on December 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm

I’ve never been a proponent of term limits, but I learned something recently that started to change my mind.

First, I have to preface this with some background.

If you don’t know anything about stock rules, here are the basics:

  1. The stock market is highly regulated
  2. If you have confidential “insider” knowledge that might affect the price of stock you are not allowed to buy or sell that stock until that knowledge becomes public
  3. The SEC is a big, scary government agency who very seriously looks for violations of any of their rules and the fines and other consequences (including prosecution and jail time) can be very stiff.
  4. This rule applies to essentially everyone – company executives and employees, bankers, government workers, friends of any of these parties and even strangers who might overhear something or otherwise gain this information.

Here the kicker: none of this applies to sitting members of Congress.

I already knew the basics of legal insider trading in Congress and that it was a real ethical issue.

I understand the rationale for it: Congressmen receive volumes of information every day, some of it public, some of it confidential. It would be difficult to sort through that information and ensure that all their stock trading was done only with public information.

However, we don’t have a Congress that is even that principled. Until Monday I knew neither the extent nor all the players involved.

The knowledge made me want to scream. Then I thought my head would explode. Then I started seriously reconsidering my stance on term limits for members of Congress.

Before we go any further, you have to watch this video:

Peter Schweizer: Insider Trading

(I can’t figure out how to embed it, but I’m emailing technical support for additional directions… In the meantime, follow the link).

Now that you, too, are ready to scream (and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section), what are we going to do about it?

It’s unlikely anyone in Congress is going to vote for a law, or even just rules, that will prevent this. Moreover, even if they do the SEC is unlikely to enforce it because Congress is their boss.

Do any of our elected officials have the moral fortitude to withstand the kind of temptation and money?

As Schweizer says in the video, some members of Congress don’t trade stock, but for how long?

You literally have to have the character of George Washington to be able to withstand this. Back in May I caused a controversy on my Facebook page by stating that my next vote for President would only be for someone of the caliber of George Washington (you can see that here).

This new knowledge only makes me more certain – our elected officials MUST be moral people grounded firmly in principles.

They must be George Washington.

It’s interesting how things come full circle. I wrote about this last May.

I don’t know if term limits are the right solution for this unbelievable breach of ethical conduct by our elected officials. I still think an informed electorate is the best guard against corruption.

I used to think term limits only served to lessen your pool of good, moral people because there will never be a shortage of evil men who want power. Now I wonder if term limits won’t save our good people from themselves and from the system.

It makes me wonder if we have any chance left to save the republic. That is a damning assessment of Washington D.C.

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  1. Well said, Lacey! My soul has been burning ever since I found out about this. I wholeheartedly agree with your final summation: “This is a damning assessment of Washington D.C.”

    I have always been a proponent of term limits, ever since I knew what they were, I suppose because I saw the situation from the opposite perspective from you: there will, indeed, never be any limit to the amount of evil men and women who seek power, and unlimited terms allows them to hold that power for as long as they want. People like Teddy Kennedy and FDR are perfect examples.

    I also want to add that Schweizer’s discussion of this legalized insider trading has served to cement my support for Michele Bachmann in the Republican presidential nominee race. We can’t know that she would never, ever cave in to this kind of rampant corruption, but we at least know that she has resisted it for this long.

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