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Frugal Friday: We Just Got Blindfolded by the Government Edition

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we just got blindfolded by the government

Happy Friday everyone! It’s been another fast and frenzied week, but I have come to expect that these days. Awhile back I decided to take this Friday post in a different direction and discuss something that happened in the “news” that week, whether it be quirky, ridiculous or just plain interesting. Today is not one of those times. What I am writing about today makes me mad. I try my best to keep politics out of my writing, though I know I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. What I am writing about today is something that got buried in the media and that’s the gutting of the STOCK Act. The STOCK Act (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) was something that came about roughly a year ago after 60 Minutes revealed legal insider trading practices done by a variety of elected officials at the national level. Insider trading involves making stock trades off of material, non-public information. Elected officials and their staffs can execute trades off of information revealed during the legislative process – information not available to the general public. Does anyone remember what happened to Martha Stewart? She went to federal jail for something very similar. The STOCK Act was supposed to make it easy for the public to see when elected officials were doing that. It’s gutting equates to a public blindfolding.

What makes me mad is that when Obama first signed it there was broad support for it and they made all sorts of hoopla about it. Heck, Senator Elizabeth Warren practically campaigned on it. I thought it was a great move and what I liked most about it was a national, sortable and searchable database that would house financial disclosures and stock trading of elected officials, staffers, aides, lobbyists and on down the line. While maybe not perfect, at least it was some sort of victory for transparency and was seen as the media educating the public who in turn actually pushed the government into doing something right. Fast forward a year, and much of the Act has been gutted. You’d think with all the fanfare that was surrounding the Stock Act that there would’ve been equal discussion about it being gutted. Wrong. The news was buried in a one sentence statement on the White House’s website. With the gutting of the STOCK Act it leaves only the elected officials as the ones who’ll have to report the covered information which will be “published” in an unsorted, unsearchable database that I am sure will be less than easy to use. Call me a cynic, but I think this will only lead to continued shady deals and the potential for even more stock trades to be done with material, non-public information. This reeks so bad that it stinks. At least when it comes to stock trading, there appears to be two sets of standards…one for them and one for the rest of us.

I’d love to say that it was one party that is guilty of trying to defeat this, but the bill was gutted with broad, bipartisan support. Both sides of the aisle acquiesced in regards to removing the teeth from this bill and I guess that should not surprise me. In the end, I believe that we only have ourselves to blame. We (and I am using “we” collectively here) continue to re-elect these clowns election after election. The fact that the announcement was buried should tip us off to the fact that they knew it would be wildly unpopular. However, this is the name of the game when it comes to politics and really should come as no surprise to us that a different standard is held for some. I am not naïve enough to say that if you call your congressperson something will be done about it. You can do that, but I highly doubt that will be effective. Where we need to voice our concern is at the ballot box on Election Day. Like a consumer who votes with their wallet over a company they do not support, we need to let our voices be heard with our vote. Things like this will only continue to occur until we make our voices heard with our vote. When we continue to see ordeals like this go on, then it is our responsibility to make our voice be heard. End Rant! 🙂

Thank you for listening to me while I got that out! It has been an eventful week in the blogosphere. To all those that voted for me in the Free Money Finance March Money Madness tournament, I thank you. I was fortunate enough to make it to the Final Four and lost in that round. I never thought I’d make it that far, so it was an honor to be included amongst the select few. Another highlight this week was that I hired my first staff writer! I know some might see it as too early in my blogging journey, but it is the next natural transition for Frugal Rules. When I started this blog it was always my intention to start a community of like-minded individuals who’re committed to helping others make better financial decisions, so I am pretty excited for my new staff writer to start next month.

Amidst my busyness this week I was still able to read some great blog posts. I always hate narrowing them down, but that’s half the fun. If you have the time this weekend, I encourage you to check out some of these blog posts as I can pretty much guarantee you’ll either learn something new or be encouraged.

 

Blog Post of the Week

Frugality: My New Normal on Budget and the Beach

I loved this post by Tonya as I can relate so much to it. Tonya’s final statement sums up the blog post best for me: “Nothing recklessly purchased feels as good as financial security.” I could not agree more. In my spend-happy days I thought that the shiny new whatever would bring me happiness. What I didn’t know then is that happiness wears off very quickly and you only have bills that stick around. Tonya describes the “financial awakening” she went through to get her finances in order and having gone through that in the past myself I know how that can change your perspective in regards to spending money and where you find happiness.  Like Tonya, becoming frugal did not happen overnight for me, but I am definitely glad I was able to make that change. If you’re dealing with facing difficulties in regards to spending money, take it from me – the hard work of transforming your habits will be worth it in the long run.

Other Blog Posts That Ruled

Quotes for Authors: Stephen King on Writing on Fearless Men

The Potential Dangers of Stop Loss Orders on Money Bulldog

Almost Frugal on Girl Meets Debt

Extreme Retirement is Fool’s Gold! on Krant Cents

We Don’t Have a Plan For Retirement…Yet on The Frugal Path

Confession: I Avoided the Millennial Curse on Broke Millennial

Free Online Coupon Codes on Modest Money

Why Real Estate is One of the Best Ways to Make Money on Make Money Your Way

 

Odd Search Terms

How to become rich with no money…rob a bank (I kid I kid)

Ferrari and a frugal lifestyle…Umm, I don’t know where to start with this one

Girl, do you buy your clothes at Wal-Mart…Not a question I suggest asking!

I have a smell when I scratch my head…May I suggest some shampoo?

Penny stocks that can make you rich…I’ve got a bridge I can sell you as well!

What the F#!$ have I done I quit my job…I know that feeling all too well!

Shopping at Wal-Mart makes me feel dirty…I feel the same way!

Frugal barrel ideas…Nothing says frugality like a good barrel!

 

Does it surprise you that news like the Stock Act being gutted isn’t a major headline? What fun things do you have planned for this weekend?

 

Photo courtesy of: Left-Hand

 

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and regularly contribute to GoBankingRates, Investopedia, Lending Tree and more. If you're wanting to learn how to monetize your blog, check out my blog coaching services to see how I can help you take your site to the next level.

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56 Comments

  • Joe says:

    That’s not a rant; it’s an OBSCENE state of affairs and you’re right to be mad as hell. I remember hearing about this pathetic situation years ago, and I thought it’d be resolved as soon as it went public. Unbelievable.

  • It’s stuff like this that really ticks me off. They can’t come up with a budget for everyone, but they can easily agree on making sure they themselves are taken care of. Our Founding Fathers would be ashamed of this incompetent group. we need to clean house and start all over again.

    • John says:

      I feel the same way Jon, It ticks me off just a bit. The crazy thing is that they actually were able to agree on something…when it impacted them.

  • I agree with Jon – this is ridiculous, but no surprise, sad to say. It seems that unscrupulousness has reached an all time high in the govt. these days, on both sides of the track. Very few even seem to care that we are spending ourselves into oblivion, and seem to only care about their own desires for instant gratification. All the more reason for us all to have our own personal finances together, and quickly. 🙁

    • John says:

      It is ridiculous Laurie and really not surprising either. I agree, it should move us to get our own personal acts together and do want we can to help others and grow ourselves.

  • Well you can’t blame me. I haven’t voted for an incumbent in 5 years.

    Of course, voting new people into office doesn’t do much either. See how far all those tea part candidates from 2010 got.

    • John says:

      I am in the same boat Edward. I think the only incumbent I voted for was on a municipal level and they lost.

      However, you’re missing my broader point. I am talking about putting entirely new people in there and not a small and vocal minority that have their own agenda.

  • Thanks for including me! I’m sincerely flattered!

    In regards to the rant, sadly not surprised. It does remind me of the petition I’ve seen floating around Facebook to have elected officials wear logos of their backers, much like NASCAR drivers. It would be great if we could have transparency in politics, but I’m not holding my breath.

    • John says:

      Not a problem!

      I agree, it’ not really surprising to me either. I think the logo idea is awesome and had heard about it. The crazy thing is, I think it would just encourage more money to be shown to the politicians.

  • It really doesn’t surprise me, even though generally Congress is all about adding new regulations. Based on your info (and passion) on this issue I would think you noticed a few weeks ago when health insurance stocks jumped on a tip for a staffer that the Obama administration was changing course on Medicare and instead of cutting it was going to add funding? It really created a frenzy and some firms bread and butter are political research and tips that they blast out to their clients.

    • John says:

      Yea, I had seen something about that but was not able to research it as much as I would’ve liked. Medicare and health care is a completely different animal altogether and we’ll probably see more of the same going on as we ramp up over the next year or so.

  • This crap happens all of the time. Mid they see something that will affect their money, the you can be sure they will destroy it. Bunch of crap.

    I had no idea you were looking for a staff writer. Nice work John. This is something that I will most likely doing later this year closer to my one year anniversary.

    • John says:

      I agree Grayson, it happens all the time and we continue to put the same fools back in office.

      Yea, I’ve been thinking about it for awhile now and decided to go for it as I want to open up some time to devote to more back end work and marketing efforts.

  • Politicians acting to enrich themselves? Then saying that they’ll put a stop to it. Then reneging on that? Nope, never would have expected that….

  • Congrats on making it to the Final Four and on your new staff writer John! Thank you for the link love 😀
    My favorite search term this week – “Ferrari and a frugal lifestyle” I’m still waiting for you to show us a picture of your Ferrari John 😉 Have a great weekend!

  • You hit the nail on the head: “We (and I am using “we” collectively here) continue to re-elect these clowns election after election.” Or, ss put by Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” The ballot is a beautiful thing, but must be used–at all and by an enlightened electorate–to be effective.

    • John says:

      I could not agree more on the enlightened electorate Kurt! The ballot is indeed a beautiful thing, but if we put the same clowns back in office time after time then we only have ourselves to blame in the long run.

  • krantcents says:

    This does not surprise me! The sad case is they won’t be thrown out. Thanks for the links, I am in good company.

  • A righteous rant and a sentiment I share, John. It makes me sick and I don’t understand how this can be considered fair. It’s no surprise that they would bury the story. Grrrr……

    On to happier things! Perhaps the person with the Ferrari and trying to be frugal is a billionaire, so his car is really a reasonable purchase. Or not! LOL! Have a great weekend!

    • John says:

      I agree Shannon, and is way beyond the bounds of fair in my opinion.

      Hey, you may be on to something with your thought on the billionaire. 😉 You have a great weekend as well Shannon!

  • Nice search terms =) I hope you have a great weekend!

  • Thanks for pointing this out John, I have never heard about any of this. It makes me sick some of the things our politicians get away with!

    • John says:

      Not a problem Nick. I did not know it was even going on until a year or so ago and the sad thing is that many do not know that it’s even happening.

  • anna says:

    My bf and I are complete opposites when it comes to politics, but we agree with your sentiment since both parties are guilty in this case. It’s disheartening and infuriating… we also agree that politicians shouldn’t be in it as a career choice, since things get so corrupt. On a lighter note, I love your comments about the searches, especially the penny stocks one. 🙂

    • John says:

      You’re exactly right Anna, which is why it was broad and overwhelming support for the gutting of the STOCK Act. Glad you like my comments on the wacky search terms…just my way of having some sarcastic fun. 🙂

  • Matt Becker says:

    Political BS frustrates the hell out of me too. Honestly, and a lot of people would yell at me for this, but I really stopped paying attention for the most part a little while back. My mindset: sure I can vote, but unless I’m devoting a lot of time to it then I won’t make much of a difference. I would rather spend my time focusing on things that I can control.

    • John says:

      It can be frustrating especially to see trash any transparency they were going to provide just gets thrown out the window when it benefits them.

  • OK my eyes glazed over the political stuff-lol! (I know, so bad!) but I did see that you were in the final four!! That’s so amazing…congratulations! And wow thank you SO MUCH for featuring my blog this week. I’m truly flattered! Hope you have a great weekend. The weather getting any better?

    • John says:

      Lol, sorry for making your eyes glaze over. 🙂 It was pretty cool to make it to the Final Four and all the extra traffic was nice too. No problem on featuring your post, I really liked it.

  • Ian says:

    One major problem is that the elected officials are just the players in a large two party game. Even if some are switched out, they will still be playing by the same rules as the guy before him. The political system has some very large flaws and is pretty focused on self preservation. Real representation can be hard to come by and most likely will not appear until there are some major shifts in the consolidation of power. Oh since we are all using computers for this an interesting book is “the myth of digital democracy”

    • John says:

      I would tend to agree Ian. Part of the problem is that when even a few are booted or move to the private sector, 98% of the incumbents are still there. Change is needed, but it’s difficult to achieve that when the large majority of them stay year after year.

  • I really hope someone registered the domain “frugalbarrels.com” after reading that. LoL.

    Yea, government protecting shady stuff doesn’t surprise me anymore. So, I could be outraged, but I don’t have time to care. 🙂

    • John says:

      I actually just checked and it is available. Who knows…maybe a niche site idea?! 😉

      It’s not surprising Jacob, though you’re touching on the very apathy I was talking about.

  • John, good work on the exposure. It truly is sickening what goes on in the political realms. I think the first step is realizing that Fox News and MSNBC aren’t worth watching. But that’s my $.02.

    Have a great, frugal weekend!

    • John says:

      Thanks Jacob. It is sickening and we only have ourselves to blame. So, you’re saying I can’t watch Fox News or MSNBC?! What am I going to do for entertainment then?! 😉

      You have a great weekend as well sir!

  • Wow, I had no idea this had been scrapped. Insider trading really is a shady practice and I think it goes on a lot more than we realise. Thanks so much for the mention John, glad you liked the post. Hope you have a good weekend mate.

  • Politicians are only ever interested in one thing – their own back pocket. That means they need to get reelected and so anything they feel that will hinder their chances of that has to be kept on the low down so that no one is the wiser.

    I think most the major parties need a real shock and the only way that will happen is when a legitimate 3rd party starts taking their seats.

    • John says:

      I would tend to agree with you Glen. It’s a vicious circle of them feeling the need to accumulate more money so as to get themselves re-elected.

  • I haven’t looked at the news in a few weeks, so thanks for pointing that out. Unfortunately people are more interested in how much weight Kim Kardashian and Kate Middleton are gaining. One think I did notice was an email from the airline we’re using to go see my Mom and Dad next month about increasing the minimum check in times due to sequestration and furloughs for security workers. Funny that politicians salaries were not subject to the across the board cuts like every other government worker, but I need to shut up now. Have a great weekend.

    • John says:

      They were talking about the same thing on Bill Maher last night. Funny when things start to personally impact the politicians then they’re quick to act to make sure they’re taken care of.

  • It’s a worthy rant that deserves shouting about. Seems the loophole got huge. The original Stock Act still allowed spouses and children to trade on information. Now it looks like everyone can – assuming congressman are smart enough to open accounts under their spouses or kid’s name. I haven’t done the work, but I’m curious if trusts are included too?

    It’s good to know our elected officials can spend months debating the idiocy of the fiscal cliff, but only sa few minutes rolling back a worthy law that helps their employees. It actually makes you want to work for the government…for second.

    • John says:

      I am not certain if trusts are included or not. Funny how it takes them getting personally impacted to actually get them to work together. 😉

  • Justin says:

    Thanks for the mention and bringing this news to my attention. It really gets under my collar and I really think nothing’s going to change until the citizens realize what’s going on.
    Sorry to hear about the loss last week. But making it to the fourth round with so many great posts is still a great accomplishment.
    Have a great weekend.

  • Agreed about the act. Amazing that it hasn’t gotten even more coverage.

  • CashRebel says:

    Wow! I can’t believe there wasn’t more outrage about this! I remember when they decided to pass the law, it was a huge deal. How did they manage to sweep this under the media rug?

  • Totally agree John, it always seems as if government officials are on a completely different set of rules while everyone else is on a completely different set. If any other person would have committed these crimes they would be in jail just as Martha Stewart was.

    What’s worse is I think the media hides this kind of corruption and never reports it because they like the current status quo. Things have got to change in Washington, and the best way to do that is by informing people and letting them know what is really going on, so when they do head the the ballot box next time they are making more informed decisions, not ones replicated by the media.

    • John says:

      You bring up a great point about the media Chris. Very few reported on it which is really a shame, but we all know it’s about the ratings for them and not really to inform the electorate.

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