I believe The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, though at times very crude, is the funniest show on television. However, it can also be very enlightening. Last week, I learned something from Mr. Stewart that I have not yet heard reported by any of the legitimate news programs and organizations that I regularly watch and read, that being the STOCK Act. On this particular show, Stewart devoted the first ten minutes of the show discussing how members of Congress are legally allowed to conduct insider trading of stock via political intelligence (i.e., information gained from government sources that can potentially cause the stock markets and/or particular stock to fluctuate in price). During the last ten minutes of his show, Stewart interviewed Representative Louise Slaughter of New York, a co-sponsor of the bill to further expand on this controversial issue.
From what little I do know about the STOCK Act, it is an attempt by Congress to require its members and their staff abide by the same rules in the trading of stock as that of every other citizen of this country. However, the House of Representatives failed to see the need for such a law and passed by a 417-2 margin a much weakened version of the bill without curtailing political intelligence. The House bill also failed to provide a provision to crack down on government officials found guilty of performing official duties that benefit them financially. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa was quoted as saying that this House bill was “astonishing and extremely disappointing” while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California stated “…secretly, the Republicans brought a much diminished bill to the floor. Senator Grassley’s remarks are stunning, and a stunning indictment of the House Republicans.” I read somewhere that as much as $400 million in insider trading goes on in Congress each year. Is there any wonder why the net worth of members of Congress has tripled this past decade?
I find it disturbing that this country can prosecute, convict and incarcerate Martha Stewart, and as a result revoking her right to vote, for the same crime that members of Congress can legally perform. Is there any wonder why Congress has an approval rating in the single digits?
Steven H. Spring