Economy & Budget

SEC Scandal Shows Danger of Big Government

"This stunning report should make everyone question the wisdom of moving forward with plans to give regulators like the SEC even more widespread authority."—Rep. Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.)

I’m a girl from Georgia and it’s getting dangerously close to the time of year when SEC means college football and not the Securities and Exchange Commission. However, when it was revealed at least 33 employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) were disciplined or removed from their positions for viewing porn up to eight hours a day, it piqued my interest.

It’s even more important this story came out prior to a week when Congress is taking up financial reform. All of the focus has been on “Wall Street” and the private side of the equation and very little to no attention on the incompetence of the SEC, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

It has been revealed 33 employees over the last several years, making between $90,000 and $222,000 a year, paid for with your hard earned money, were spending up to eight hours daily downloading pornography during working hours.

The names of these offenders have not been revealed, but the biggest offender was a SEC lawyer making in excess of $222,000 a year who spent so much time downloading porn he filled up his government hard drive. He then began “burning” porn to CDs and DVDs that were stored in his office. If you began watching the videos he downloaded, you’d be watching porn for over 16 years without a break. That seems like an obsession, but worse, how does anybody get any work done in that environment?

During the time these incidents occurred, the greatest financial crisis of the last 80 years was unfolding. The SEC missed Bernie Madoff as well as other scam artists bilking billions of dollars from investors and they missed the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

The SEC came about as an independent agency to protect the financial markets in the wake of the Great Depression. I’d say they are a little off course. To be fair, there are 4,000 SEC employees, so 33 are far less than 1% of those employed. However, if there are 33 who were caught, how many were influenced by their behavior? How many have been fiddling while the financial crisis loomed?

The “pastime” was discovered during investigations into 33 employees looking at “explicit images” in the past five years. The stress had to be great as 31 of the 33 probes occurred in the time since the financial crises peaked in 2008. The SEC says all have been suspended for a time, fired or allowed to resign but will not release their names. It’s assumed the “allowed to resign” bunch will continue to get their federal benefits. These 33 need to be stripped of any government benefits and named. Maybe the President will encourage the people with pitchforks to head to their houses as he did with the AIG executives. These people do not deserve the benefits that the U.S. taxpayer can give them in “retirement.”

The Obama Administration continues to demonize businesses in the healthcare industry and now the financial sector without looking at the corruption in the federal government. If the President was really for “hope and change” he’d start with cleaning up his own mess first. Make sure every agency of the federal government is tightened up from top to bottom.

This is the crux of the Tea Party movement. It’s not about taxes, per se, it’s about the size and corruption of government. The Tea Party protesters are the taxpayers in this country and they are saying, “I don’t mind paying taxes if I know you are not wasting my money.” Federal employees who make over three times the salaries of the average American worker in the private sector and who spend up to eight hours a day downloading porn do not reflect the kind of value for the tax dollar the American taxpayer would like.

Mr. President, before you attack the engines of this economy again, please make sure the part of the government you are responsible for is efficient. The SEC is an independent agency, but the “porn scandal” within its walls is indicative of the waste everywhere in the federal government.

This weekend, I watched the movie, The Blind Side. It is the story of a family who took in a boy with very little future and nurtured him to not only graduate from high school and college but to be a player in the National Football League. When the lead character, played by Sandra Bullock, went to a government office to inquire about becoming the legal guardian of the boy, she had the same experience many of us have of an inefficient government full of people who probably meant to be servants at some point but now are just marking time. Just like the SEC 33 who were marking time downloading porn as they punched a clock with better pay and better benefits than the average American. This is not acceptable.

It is time to revamp government. It’s time for transformative change beginning with a radical reduction in the size of government. Is President Obama the man to do it? That question will be answered in November during the mid-term elections. That’s why it starts with your vote and elections have consequences. As you go to the polls from now until
November, remember this corruption. It’s systemic and it’s time for systemic change.

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