Are Favors Fair?
We’ve all heard the phrase, “friends in all the right places.” It helps when you are looking for a job, trying to get into a select college, or vying for the fraternity or sorority house. Many of us have taken advantage of this system. It often times is not “what you know, but who you know.”
We all have the right to work hard, prosper, and get ahead. This is the belief system a lot of us in this country have.
What about people who get ahead because of favors from the right people? Or, what about the people who don’t get into trouble (when they should) because they know the right people?
You may have heard of MF Global. This is the company that misplaced $1.2 billion dollars of customer money. Did you know that the president of this company, Bradley I. Abelow, has been a top financial advisor to the Environmental Protection Agency since 2010? No one seems to have voiced any concern about Mr. Abelow’s role in advising the $8.6 billion EPA on its finances. If someone has misplaced $1.2 billion, should they be advising a government agency on finances?
What about the people who seem to be in the right place at the right time? We’ve all heard about insider trading, and how we would go to jail if we participate. But should members of Congress, who are privy to certain information about companies, be allowed to profit from this information? Or should they be held to the same accountability we are?
In November 2011, the CBS program 60 Minutes reported that some members of Congress (and their staff) profited from insider knowledge that would help them make money in the stock market. These lawmakers have exempted themselves from a law that would otherwise send them to jail!
In 2006, Louise Slaughter, a Democratic Representative from New York, proposed a bill that would prevent insider trading by members of Congress. The bill failed, but because of the 60 Minutes episode last November, the problem was brought to light again.
After a six-year battle by a small group of House members, insider trading for members of Congress is now illegal. On April 4, 2012, President Obama signed the “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act.” This law prohibits all members of Congress or their aides from using information they might gain while working on government projects to their advantage in trading stocks. The Wall Street Journal discovered that more than 50 members of Congress traded actively, and dozens made trades in companies that they help oversee. Through the passing of this new law, members of Congress can no longer use information or knowledge gained on the job for their advantage.
Finally, let’s not forget about President Obama’s “green jobs” program. In addition to the Solyndra loan ($535 million tax-payer funded), the Washington Post discovered that the White House granted “easy access to venture capitalists with stakes in some of the companies backed by the administration,” many of whom were Obama campaign donors. In addition, others were given jobs in the administration and “helped manage the clean-energy program.”
This corrupt system, Washington Inc., has to stop! We need to elect candidates who will grant jobs and contracts based on excellence and qualifications, not connections and paybacks.
Become informed. As Benjamin Franklin once said, An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
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