There’s a reason most of our rich people are members of the government: they made their money trading in stocks that they had prior knowledge about. Commonly called “Insider Trading”, it’s illegal for you and me, but not for members of our ruling class. Martha Stewart went to prison because it just looked like she might have known how a stock was going to move, but people in Congress are exempt from such laws.
Of course, nothing lasts forever and in March 2012, legislation passed banning federal employees who oversee companies from making stock trades based on prior knowledge gained from their jobs. The STOCK Act (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge) was designed to stop the public uproar over government’s private fishing hole. It sat in committee for six years so that it could be perfect. Then, right after a “60 Minutes” story aired about the Act, it moved from committee and quickly passed in one of the few pieces of bipartisan legislation in four years.
Only, it turns out, that act was so watered down that little has actually changed. While people working in government jobs are now prohibited from trading in companies that they oversee, lawmakers are still free to make tons of dough on companies covered by laws that are in the process of being made. And they’re making full use of that loophole. Already, 130 people in Congress have traded hundreds of millions of dollars in stocks owned by companies affected by bills that were before committees.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. And the merry-go-round of corruption and greed continues…