A Cure for Politicians’ essay

Article Analysis

Article Summary/Theme

The article titled A Cure for Politicians’ Stock Trades, published in New York Times on January 5, 2021, addresses the issue of the use of information that is not available to the public by the lawmakers to benefits themselves in stock trading activities. One of the lawmakers involved in the controversy recently, as noted in the article, is Georgia’s Senator, Senator Kelly Loeffler (Sorkin et al., 2021). After meetings among the lawmakers in the early months of 2020 addressing the potential impacts of Covid-19 disease, the senator immediately sold some shares to avoid losses. Thus, the article proposes strategies to prevent such unethical trading by lawmakers (Sorkin et al., 2021) A Cure for Politicians’ essay .The suggestion is increased regulation and monitoring by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (S.E.C). According to the article, the S.E.C can address the issue by requiring broker-dealers to gather information from lawmakers and close individuals such as their relatives and workers using questionnaires (Sorkin et al., 2021). The focus of the questions asked should be to understand whether or not they are acting out of information that is available to lawmakers but not the public. The information gathered can then be made available to the public by S.E.C. A second solution suggested in the article is modifying the rules that apply to S.E.C employees and requiring adherence by the lawmakers. For instance, the lawmakers can always confirm with S.E.C that they do not have inside information about the companies they target to trading companies (Sorkin et al., 2021). As explained in the article, the strategies will help eliminate the excuse given by lawmakers frequently that they were not involved directly in trade dealings. The article, however, suggests that Congress is the stumbling block to the implementation of the strategies. The reason is that the S.E.C budget is approved by lawmakers (Sorkin et al., 2021). As such, the lawmakers are likely always to influence the decisions made by S.E.C.

Related Theories and principles of Business Ethics

The issue raised in the article by Sorkin et al. (2021) relates to several business ethics principles, theories, and concepts. One of the most applicable theories is utilitarian ethics. The theory posits that individuals can predict the potential alternative outcomes of decisions. Also, it suggests that individuals encounter situations where they are faced with multiple decision choices. Each of the decision alternatives has its demerits and merits (Dion, 2012). As such, the central notion of the theory is that decision-makers should select decision choices with tremendous benefits to the largest number of stakeholders. The theory has two main concepts. The first is Act utilitarianism, which subscribes to the notion that regardless of societal constraints and personal feelings, a person should select the decision choice that is most beneficial to the largest number of people (Dion, 2012) A Cure for Politicians’ essay. The second is Rule utilitarianism, which requires considering the established regulations and laws when making decisions while sticking to fairness.

Based on the practical theory, the act of the lawmakers using information discussed in private meetings in private stock trading activities is unethical. The reason is that such lawmakers make decisions that would only benefit them at the expense of the public. When lawmakers sell shares in response to an emerging issue such as the Covid-19 pandemic, they take advantage of the lack of knowledge among the public members that purchase them (Sorkin et al., 2021). If the buyers had the information about the possible uncertainty or expected slump in the near future, they would have made more sound decisions, such as avoiding the risk of purchasing new shares. Despite this, the lawmakers such as Senator Loeffler decide that would only benefit them (Sorkin et al., 2021). Such a move is unethical based on the tenet of Act utilitarianism.

The move by the lawmakers is also evil from the perspective of rule utilitarianism. The lawmakers that use information unavailable to the public to benefits themselves through engagement in stock trading activities fail to consider the existing laws. The Stock Act prohibits lawmakers from using nonpublic information for personal services at the expense of the rest of society (Sorkin et al., 2021). Also, engaging in such acts is unfair to the public members that are taken advantage of. Thus, the move by policymakers such as Senator Loeffler can be viewed as unethical from that perspective.

The theory of deontology also applies to the issue in the article. The theory posits that during decision-making processes, individuals should stick to the duties and obligations of their positions. In the case of lawmakers, for instance, they should adhere to the responsibilities and obligations such as protecting the resources for the public, making beneficial rather than detrimental policies, and acting with accountability, integrity, honesty, and transparency (Brooks, Riele & Maguire, 2014). The theory suggests that keeping promises is one of the obligations of the deontologists. In the article, lawmakers such as Senator Loeffler failed to keep their obligations of protecting the voters’ interests and acting with integrity, transparency, and honesty through using nonpublic information to benefit. As such, they served unethically in the perspective of deontology theory A Cure for Politicians’ essay.

The principle of justice also applies to the issue addressed in the article. The principle suggests that when facing multiple decision choices, selecting a suitable alternative should be made with consideration of fairness to all parties. Precisely, the decisions should be fair to all stakeholders (Brooks, Riele & Maguire, 2014). Fairness implies that the benefits and costs of decisions should be shared equally among the stakeholders. In the case of lawmakers, for instance, they should make laws and engage in acts that are fair to peers, the members of the public, businesses, and other stakeholders. In the article, the decision to use nonpublic information in stock trading activities for personal benefits by the lawmakers is unfair. The decision is unfair because the lawmakers avoid losses by selling the shares but will transfer them to the buyers. The shares’ prices are likely to fall after the buyers purchase them, leading to losses (Sorkin et al., 2021). In this view, the behaviors of lawmakers such as Senator Loeffler are unjust and unethical.

The principle of beneficence is also relevant to the issue in the article. The principle stipulates the need always to do good and right. The principle posits that the suitable decision choice involves doing right (Dion, 2012). Based on the perspective, the focus in the decision-making process should be to achieve the most incredible possible amount of good for all the stakeholders. The lawmakers’ decision can be considered unethical since it does not amount to doing the right thing. The move to sell shares based on nonpublic information does not yield the most incredible amount of good for the public members (Sorkin et al., 2021). Instead, it involves taking advantage of them in a way that exposes them to the risk of making losses.

Last, the concept of least harm applies to the case. The idea stipulates that in situations where no decision choice seems beneficial, an individual should select the alternative with the least amount of harm to the stakeholders (Brooks, Riele & Maguire, 2014). The lawmakers, such as Senator Loeffler, must have faced dilemmas in decision-making since all alternatives involved some losses (Dion, 2012). For instance, failing to sell the shares implies that Senator Loeffler would have to bear the losses in a slump in stock prices (Sorkin et al., 2021). However, Senator Loeffler and other lawmakers involved in the controversy acted unethically. They violated the principle of least harm by transferring the risk for losses to the public’s members.

Reaction

A remarkable aspect about the move by Senator Loeffler and other lawmakers to use nonpublic information for private benefit is that it entails a violation of the Stock Act. In my view, therefore, the first step toward addressing the issue should involve investigating the allegations raised against the lawmakers. A Cure for Politicians’ essay .The actions stipulated in law should be undertaken against the lawmakers that would be culpable. In my view, however, it is vital to be cautious in the investigation process. During the investigation process, it is indispensable to investigate how a lawmaker was involved in violating the law. Taking actions against the lawmakers found culpable would help to deter similar behaviors in the future. The second solution is the one that is suggested in the article. The lawmakers, close relatives, and workers should be required to answer questions about their stock trading activities, which should be made public. The approach can include requiring all stock trading activities by lawmakers, close relatives, and workers to be approved by S.E.C. Doing so will ensure that the lawmakers do not use nonpublic information for personal benefits in stock trading activities. However, this would require the S.E.C leaders to take a bold step in establishing such regulations. The leaders should avoid acting out of influence by the lawmakers even though they are involved in approving the budget for S.E.C. To achieve this, the S.E.C can strive to get the lawmakers’ backing, such as Congress, in changing or establishing new regulations. A third solution is reminding or sensitizing the lawmakers about illegal and legal trading by insiders. Insider trading is illegal if the persons involved use information that is not yet made public to benefit privately through trading in stock prices (Book). The illegal trading can be done by anyone possessing the nonpublic information, such as the family members, workers and close friends of the insiders. However, the trading by insiders is not illegal if they do so in their own companies (Book). Despite this, they have to report to the S.E.C about the trading within two days of transaction.

References

Brooks, R., Riele, K. T., & Maguire, M. (2014). Ethics and Education Research. Washington,

DC.: SAGE.

Dion, M. (2012). Are ethical theories relevant for ethical leadership? Leadership &

Organization Development Journal, 33(1), pp. 4 24. doi: https://doi.org/10.1108/01437731211193098

Sorkin, A. R., Karaian, J., de la Merced, M. J., Hirsch, L., & Livni, E. (2021, January 5). A Cure

for Politicians’ Stock Trades: And it wouldn’t require legislation. New York Times. Retrieved March 3, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/05/business/dealbook/congress-stock-trading.html A Cure for Politicians’ essay.