Insider trading is loosely defined as the use of information not available to the general public for the purpose of personal enrichment. In Martha Stewart's case, she based a decision to sell a stock she owned on information from a friend that she deemed reliable.
Who wouldn't, right?
Believe it or not, there is no actual statute defining insider trading. Cases are prosecuted under 2 or 3 anti-fraud provisions of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934. Getting nailed for insider trading is a luck-of-the-draw kind of thing. It's also a who-did-you-piss-off kind of thing.
Catching and prosecuting insider trading cases is squishy, at best. Plenty of shady guys do it for years and pay no penalty.
I have no idea if Senator Ted Cruz has ever engaged in any kind of stock trading, inside or outside. That's not the point. The point is that he can, if he so chooses, buy or sell stock based on information he may glean within some closed door hearing and he can do it with total impunity.
Not only can Senator Ted Cruz trade on inside information without penalty, so can his family and his staff. And so can all the other senators, congressmen, their families and their staff.
In April of 2012, President Obama signed into law a bill that banned federal lawmakers from trading on insider information. About a year later, that bill was rolled back to the point of being nonexistent.
I bring all this up for a couple of reasons. One is that you should get to know the people for whom you cast your votes and how they represent the best interests of you, your family and the American people.
While Washington, DC remains a city of divisiveness and gridlock, our law makers can, in fact pass laws when it's in THEIR best interest. Some of those laws may make you scratch your head (or someplace anatomically south of there), but you can usually decipher their intent by determining who actually benefits from them.
Think of Washington as a Dick Wolf mystery. To solve them, just follow the money. For example, who benefits from Medicare being prohibited from negotiating drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies?
Who benefits from bombing backward countries into smithereens and then rebuilding them? (Hint: There's more than one good answer to this one)
There's been an email going around for the past several years about a fictitious, albeit hopeful 28th Amendment. This Pollyana created fantasy would have our lawmakers impose term limits on themselves, give up the spoils of public life and take their chances with the rest of us.
We can dream, can't we?
There's a lot of knee jerk issues on the political table right now. One of them is bound to make you...well, jerk your knee. They're emotional, hot button issues like abortion, guns, same sex marriage and the dreaded Obamacare.
Whatever your issue, try to remember that someone out there is using it to lure you in, to get you to help him (or her) secure tenure as an entitled public servant. Don't bite. The only person they're out to serve is themselves.
Now, if you'll excuse me, my congressman just texted me that I have to get out of a certain stock. I would share that information with you, but then I would have to turn you in to the SEC.
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