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Lead Me Not Into Temptation: Insider Trading & War

November 15, 2011;storyMediaBox

11:30am PST Tues. Nov. 15: Just now CNN posted that legislation was filed that would prohibit members of Congress and their staffs from using insider legislative information for investment purposes in the wake of a CBS News “60 Minutes” report.

From CNN: “Brown’s bill, which he called the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge, or STOCK Act, would clarify insider trading regulations that do not clearly identify whether the use of inside government information constitutes insider trading.”

Yes, I think it is wrong wrong wrong for our elected representatives to invest using insider info. It seems particularly horrendous that Rep Bachus invested in our country doing poorly.

But given the opportunity would YOU take the high road? Here’s how guest blogger Grant Marcus handled a similar situation–inside info coupled with an investment in the war industry.

And if you haven’t yet, MOVE YOUR MONEY!

A Guest Post By Grant Marcus

Long before September 11th, 2001 and the attacks on the Twin
Towers– when Americans in Armani slacks and ties were given the
choice to jump 124 floors, or to be burned to death– I too was given
a deadly choice, to invest in war and make tens of thousands of dollars,
or to refuse blood money and face the ridicule of my father.  Defiantly,
I chose the latter.

You see, our country did not choose to go to war on March 20th , 2002
following the 9/11 disaster.  Our government chose to go to war long
before that.  In fact, the decision came just one day after George Walker
Bush was selected our 43rd president.  Let me explain.

As I remember it, I first learned of the war some time in March of
2000, two months after Bush took office, and six months before our
east-coast Pearl Harbor that changed the nation.

I was working at St. John’s Hospital at the time.  My supervisor had
been worried about the recessive stock market, which started plummeting
as soon as Bush was inaugurated.  She had been taking a beating, so she
decided to invite a mysterious financial advisor to our unit..

As a “courtesy” to her fellow nurses, she arranged to hold a financial
conference.  A high officer from the local navy base volunteered to
serve in the role of our financial messiah .

As we sat down, he leaned toward us instantly, “I’ll cut to the chase,”
he said.  “I have some first-hand information that was just brought to
my attention, and I want all of you to benefit from it.”  We were all so
silent you could hear the spider matriculate in his web in the corner..

“I want you to take whatever money you have and invest it in Hal-
liburton.” the officer continued.  “If you have as much as $40,000, I
promise you a beach house in eight years.”

My father had been trying to teach me about the stock market,
and I knew, from reading the financial page, Halliburton wasn’t
doing well, not well at all.

“Halliburton’s been slumping,” I said.  “How can you be so sure?”

There was no hesitation in his response: “Three things. One.  Our
vice-president was CEO of Halliburton.  Two.  I have been informed
that all the no bid food contracts will go to Halliburton, and for all
branches of service.  And three.  The clincher.  Guess where they’re
sending the food?  I mean, do you think I’m getting any of it?  No.
They’re sending it to Kuwait.  That can only mean one thing, we’re
going back into Iraq.  And this time, the job’s getting done…It means
we’ll be there awhile, and it also means that if you have money to invest
in Halliburton, at its lowest point in years, you stand to make a killing.”

He didn’t mince words.  I mulled it over.  “So,” I said finally, “I can
make a killing, as you put it, by investing in war.”

He smiled.

“What if I don’t want to invest in blood money?”

I ended up the lone dove.  Eight of the nine nurses at the conference
invested in their future, and I trust they are doing well.  My father was angry
I didn’t let him “in on it,” so he could choose to do the same.

All I could do was flash back to Vietnam the divisiveness, the protests,
Kent State, and tricky Dicky.  It was a period of time you both loved and
hated, but would have rather not seen happen at all.  The names I recog-
nized on the memorial Wall I visited in DC provided an instant sick feeling,
as evidence for how I remembered Vietnam.

And then there was the link between Vietnam and Iraq.  Kellogg,
Brown, and Root, which was one of the first war contractors to benefit
from the Vietnam War–which turns out to be a subsidiary of Halliburton.
That war too was fought over oil.  But the Gulf of Tonkin was a lot of hot
air, a lot of natural gas, something we didn’t know how to liquify back then.

A few years later, after the fictitious aluminum tubes and “mushroom
cloud,” after the secret meetings with Cheney over oil, after the 9/11
Commission, and our executive leaders refusing to testify in the open,
or under oath, and after the rising whispers of conspiracy–I ran into a
friend, who is a colonel in the armed forces, at a local bookstore.  I told
him about my story and the financial advice I had been given.

“That’s nothing,” he informs me, and he proceeds to tell me about
a good friend of his who was “supply commander” for the middle east.
“The day after Bush became president,” said the colonel, “my friend
was ordered to start building bases in Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Everyone knew the war was coming.”

He avoided the question of whether or not he too made investments.

Without intending it, I had been suddenly dropped on money’s bloody
road leading to the Iraqi killing fields of our military industrial complex.
There was so much money to be made from this war, especially if you
got in on the ground floor.  $40,000 gets you a beach house, a half a
million dollars or more.  Who could resist the temptation?  And it’s likely
why no one, to this day, talks out loud about the tips they received.  As
long as the war continues, they’re still making big money.

And although oil, defense, and security contractors are doing just fine,
war and its debt are risking the financial stability of the public
sector across the country.  We are now in a growing and lengthy recessive economy,
with so many Americans hurting.  The issue of war arises repeatedly, as
to how much it is  really costing our nation.  What could we buy with the
nearly $4 trillion we have spent on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Pakistan?
How much will we spend on Syria or Iran?  And the people who have in-
vested in war don’t want anyone to turn off the faucet.  They know their
stocks and dividends will dry up if the handle is turned.  After all, we are
a war economy.

So, how much interest will we end up paying on our debt, and how
much will the debt devour what thriving economy we could have had?

It leads me to suspect that I had run into the mouth of the beast,
that ominous creature Eisenhower had endeavored to warn us about a half
century ago:  When war is for profit, the first casualty of killing for
money is truth.  It’s the reason why it’s so hard to count all the lies
levied for going into Iraq.  I question the morality many of us have
when war is no longer a painful and reluctant last resort, but instead
made by those who are willing to kill for a buck.

And if so many people are willing to be shareholders in war, maybe
Martin Luther King was right, “A nation that spends more money on
military defense than on programs of social uplift approaches spiritual
death.”  Yes, just what are we willing to do for the love of money, or
at least have our children do for that love?  And are they killing for
patriotism, Christ, or the love of country?  Or are they killing for
Exxon, or those who profit from war?

I took the high road.  I’m not bragging.  The economy is as hard on
me as many.  And I have nothing to show for my decision.  But I think
I can live with that.  No need to keep washing the blood from my hands,
or clean the brush from my ranch.  I imagine that’s where George is
right now, more from a reflexive need of the subconscious than from
integrity or conscience. Regardless, war was always avoidable and never
the answer.

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