Clay Olsen | February 6, 2014
In my last post, I discussed the senselessness of class warfare. We are being told by politicians and the media that others’ success is to be despised. They have done their best to forge conflict between the “rich” and the “poor.” Sadly, this idea dominates their speech and fuels their power. However, their incessant talk of the enmity that should exist between two people separated, not by their humanity, but by an amount of currency is ironic because of the positions that they themselves hold.
Originally, the expectation of a Senator or Congressman was to serve the country for a short period of time. Many Congressmen retained their private sector jobs while they were serving and returned to them after their term was up. It was strange for someone to serve more than two terms. Today we have career politicians. These Congressmen fight to retain power every time their term is up. Naturally, this leads us to develop a government that is foreign to the world outside the city limits of Washington D.C. Not so surprisingly, this situation does not always establish the best legislation.
Men and woman that have pursued goals to rise through the ranks of power in the national government and have spent countless years in D.C. write and vote on laws that greatly affect millions of citizens across the country. Congressmen, whose children attend the best private schools in the country, tell millions of others how public education should operate. Congressmen, who live in gated communities and have personal bodyguards, determine how we are allowed to protect ourselves.
This power seems to have given politicians the feeling that they are the top of society. This elitism is clear to those who not only listen to them but also view these politicians’ actions. As the state of the economy worsened over the last several years, we were told by politicians that “we all need to make sacrifices.” At the surface, this seems to be somewhat noble. But what sacrifices did we see from the federal government? Were politicians’ salaries cut? While the country limped along in double-digit unemployment, the President of the United States was throwing party after party at the White House. I’m not saying the President can’t hold a party; it just seems strange for him to talk down to us that we need to make cutbacks while he is so openly living in luxury.
The hypocrisy continues throughout the nation’s capital. It was only a few years ago that Congress rammed through Obamacare. Neither the American people nor those that passed the bill knew what was in it. Apparently it does not matter if legislation is fully understood. This law requires Americans to buy a product or pay a penalty if they choose not to purchase it. Anyways, it turns out that those who passed the law do not wish to be bound by it. Congress has been pushing hard to become exempt from the law.
Another example of blatant elitism is insider trading laws. Citizens are not allowed to make trades in the stock market based on nonpublic information. When it comes to D.C., things are a little different. The Stock Act of 2012 clarifies that lawmakers and their staff cannot trade on nonpublic information that they have acquired from the nature of their job. However, they are not prohibited from investing in companies and industries that they are investigating or regulating. Think of the corruption that this must cause. Congress may be instituting certain regulations based on personal investments. The Stock Act was passed not too long ago. This means that lawmakers were not bound by these rules until recently. Many of them became rich off of insider trading that was technically legal regardless of its morality. The Wall Street Journal had an article back in December (“Lines Blur When Lobbyists Invest”) about insider trading laws concerning lobbyists. The report was not good. The regulations placed on lobbyists’ ability to invest “are vague and limited.” Howard Marlowe, a current lobbyist said “it’s the Wild West” in terms of investing for him and his colleagues. He referred to the subject as “a blind spot.” This is something that can only be fixed through the voices outside of Washington, not from within.
Politicians in D.C. love to point fingers and divide the country. We must stop fighting amongst each other. The next time you hear someone attack your neighbor, do not fall into the trap of envy and hatred. Look at the person stoking the fire and evaluate their motive. We must remember that Americans are not defined by the amount of money they currently make; they are defined by their hard work and their potential for success.