Thursday, September 06, 2007

More Good Government

Awhile back Barack Obama had a minor ethics flare up concerning some of his investments. Many have questioned how blind Mitt Romney's blind trust will be. We all recall Bill Frists blind trust selling off shares of a health company (which if memory serves me correctly he had founded or his family had) just before the share value took a nosedive. We also recall Hillary Clinton's returns from commodities investments that would make the best hedge fund manager embarassed. And maybe we should also consider the bizarre ability of congressional members in the aggregate to vastly outperform the market in their personal investments. Maybe that's because Congress can legally conduct insider trading (hmmm).

When we talk about ethics reform and conflicts of interest the ability to trade on insider information (mind you, insider information that congress is in fact creating; members are actually allowed to review legislation before it becomes public and consider its commercial ramifications and trade accordingly) seems to stink phenomenally. One way to mitigate this would be mandate that congress members and Senate confirmed nominees put all of their financial holdings into index funds. This is what Judges do to make sure they do not have a significant material interest in company that tries a case before the court over which the judge presides. I think the same standard should apply to congress members as they consider legislation.

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