If You Stop Regulating, You Stop Insider Trading Too

Senators introduce “STOCK Act” to stop “insider trading” in Congress

“Members of Congress should live under the same laws as everyone else,” Brown (Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.) said in a statement today. “If they trade on inside knowledge to line their own pockets, they should be punished. Serving the public is a privilege and honor, not an opportunity for personal gain.”

The bill is a response to Visa’s inviting Nancy Pelosi’s husband to buy stock before the public could. The bill Pelosi ended up pushing did not include a ban on swipe fees, a ban which Visa opposed.


First of all, if you really think “serving the public” isn’t an opportunity for personal gain, you are too stupid to warrant conversation. People make decisions based on incentives.

Secondly, members of Congress do not, by definition, live under the same laws as everyone else in one big, very important way. While those of us in the private sector have to benefit someone else in order to benefit, as all of our interactions and transactions have to be voluntary, and thus are generally mutually beneficial, that is not true of those in government. Instead, members of Congress have the power of coercion at their disposal, the power of law, the power of “do what I say or violence.” Where consent is not required, mutual benefit is not assured.

So, supporting Congress’s power to regulate business requires believing that we need protection from companies that, outside of government interference, have no coercive power over us. And believing that we’ll get that protection from Congresspeople who have near-absolute coercive power over us.

And the only problem with this setup is… insider trading.


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