To the editor,
Every North Carolina farm boy knows that an old tractor with a grinding noise between the engine and rear end likely has a transmission that will soon fail. He also knows that a big repair bill can be avoided by adding sawdust to the gearbox oil, quieting it for just long enough to dump it on some trusting buyer. That same farm boy, though, knows that such behavior is wrong, the moral equivalent of stealing money directly from the buyer’s pocket. Selling off corporate stock, when you have inside knowledge that it’s about to take a hit, is no different.
In May, 1973, as he opened the Watergate hearings, Sam Ervin, then the senior Senator from North Carolina, as Richard Burr is now, said, “The Founding Fathers, having participated in the struggle against arbitrary power, comprehended some eternal truths respecting men and government. They knew that those who are entrusted with power are susceptible to the disease of tyrants, which George Washington rightly described as ‘love of power and the proneness to abuse it.’ For that reason, they realized that the power of public officers should be defined by laws which they, as well as the people, are obligated to obey.”
How telling that four decades later, in 2012, Richard Burr would be one of only three senators to vote against a bill banning insider trading by members of Congress, calling the restrictions “ludicrous” and saying, “I mean, it’s insane.”
In the absence of a more plausible explanation than he has thus far offered for his prescient stock sell-off just a few days before the beginning of the current market meltdown, I believe Sen. Burr has no place in continuing to represent the fine people of the great state of North Carolina and should resign. I believe we deserve better, far better, than he offers in the way of wisdom, judgment, discernment, honesty and integrity, in the way of putting the good of others, particularly the constituents he was elected to represent, before greedy self-interest.
If Burr chooses not to resign, somehow avoids prison and runs for reelection, I will not vote for him as I have in the past. Even the dumbest farm boy doesn’t buy a second tractor from the same huckster.