Business Insider wants no self-made U.S. Senators

December 13, 2021

By Tim Worstall

How about politics with no rich people in it? No self-made, no one who manages their own finances would even take part? 

That might sound extreme as a proposal but it’s a possible end result of a seeming campaign being run at present. One example of this is a project being run at Business Insider. They’re looking at every stock purchase by a member of Congress, including families and staff. They’re finding that that political class buys and sells stocks that might be regulated or affected by Congress. 

The base idea has its merits. Nearly 20 years ago this was done and the finding was that U.S. senators made much better returns on their portfolios than normal folks. Senators seemed know when government action was about to change a stock price. The rules about this were changed in 2012.

So that basic idea, sure, we should check. For the privilege has been abused in the past. But the demand now is becoming much more extreme. That folks in politics just shouldn’t have direct investments at all. Everything must be, at a minimum, in a blind trust, even that, according to some demands, there just shouldn’t be anything directly owned.

The effect of this would be to strike a lot of people out of politics. Anyone who had created and still owned their own business would have to sell to gain office for example. Anyone who had made and managed their own money even. Of course, this would apply to businessmen like Donald Trump – and it’s not difficult to see some of this as being aimed at him and any possible return. 

It’s the usual left-wing groups putting forward this idea. For the obvious reasons too, because richer people are more likely to be on the Republican side and why not try to make sure that people successful in the financial world don’t go into politics? 

It’s the support from media organisations like Business Insider that is the worry, not the partisan obviousness of the idea itself. Insider gains well over 100 million visits a month, it’s one of the major news sources and looms much larger in the financial and business news markets. That the political operatives are political is one thing, that a major media outlet is pushing such a partisan political idea is another.

Insisting that no one who manages their own money can go into Congress would significantly limit the talent pool of the Republican side of politics. That this might be the aim for some is exactly why a supposedly neutral media outlet shouldn’t be pushing the idea. 


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