When Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) got wind of the looming financial crisis last fall, he called his wife back home and told her to withdraw as much of their savings as she could from their bank. This indicates nothing good about Senator Burr, and makes him look stupid three different ways:
- He doesn't understand the role of the FDIC. The FDIC, as almost everyone knows, insures bank deposits in order to prevent bank collapses caused by panic withdrawals of people's funds. As everyone with a savings account ought to understand, Senator Burr surely ought to know that an FDIC-insured bank is about the safest place in the world to park money, and that by having his wife take big piles of cash out of the bank he was doing nothing but making his money vulnerable to theft.
- He's got nothing against trading on inside information. The political classes in Washington knew ahead of the general public the depth of the crisis. The time period when Senator Burr was telling his wife to withdraw their funds was the same time period when those responsible for the banking system were cobbling together the $700 billion TARP package to try to save the banking system. Operating presumably with knowledge of the pending collapse not fully released to the public, he took care of himself before taking care of his constituents.
- He's talking about it now. After committing a craven act of self-interest based on an appalling misunderstanding of how our banking system works, Senator Burr is apparently using the story to make himself seem more like just one of the folks. You know: the folks being urged to stand tough while he's climbing into the lifeboat.
I'm sure there are other members of the political classes who've done similar things. They're just smart enough not to talk about it.