In Greg Mankiw's Principles of Microeconomics text book, he has a chapter on the allocative efficiency of competitive markets. In that chapter, he asks readers to consider a rather fictional character: the benevolent social planner. The benevolent social planner is one who is all knowing, all powerful, and well-intentioned. By "well-intentioned" I take professor Mankiw to mean that the planner's interests align with those of the general citizenry. In other words, he wouldn't take action that would benefit himself at the expense of the little people.
So, what people approximate the ideal of the benevolent social planner? Forget the all-knowing and all-powerful qualities. You can count out the folks in congress on the "benevolent" angle alone. From Peter Thiel the Wall Street Journal:
First, we tracked down Alan J. Ziobrowski, a professor at George State University’s business school who co-wrote a 2004 study that found U.S. senators’ stock picks beat the market by an average of about 12 percentage points a year during a stretch of the 1990s. Over the same period, U.S. households underperformed the market by 1.4 percentage points a year on average.
The study’s authors suggested the performance was so good, senators likely benefitted from access to inside information, such as when a company was going to be awarded a government contract, or that a pharmaceutical treatment was about to be rejected by the FDA.
Since his study, which drew wide press attention, Ziobrowski said he has heard from other researchers that the trading performance of members of Congress no longer is wildly better than the public’s stock record. He said it may be a sign that the 2004 study scared straight some Capitol Hill types.
Not only that, but the article notes that congresspeople are apparently exempt from insider-trading laws and a current piece of legislation that would supposedly correct this is "languishing."
I know that there are good people in Congress and that we, the little people, are fallible. But this is just one of the reasons the founding fathers sought to limit the scope of government: there's no such thing as the benevolent social planner.
Link via Tax Prof.