PART TWO: OTHER USEFUL CORRECTIONS
Chapter 18: Displacing gambling as the basis of the American economy
So maybe you can say Madoff is amoral. In the same way people who robbed banks didn’t say,“I’m taking money from the blacksmith.” They just took the money. And he was really good at it. … The question then arises: Was Bernie an aberration from, or a natural extension of, the American business ethos?
Richard Dreyfuss, in Smithsonian
THE CAPITALIST FREE MARKET CORRECTION ACT (CaFMaC)
* * CaFMaC Fixes [almost] Everything * *
Section 58. (of the Capitalist Free Market Corrections Act – CaFMaC)
Plain English for the Voting Citizen: 1) All stock markets in the United States are hereby abolished. The chancy stupidity of gambling is no way to run the economy of the world’s greatest nation, plan its gigantic budget, or manage its immense wealth. 2) Wall street will be turned into environmentally pleasant pedestrian walkways with many vegetable gardens that rent for $29.17 a month. 3) New York City may elect to regulate activities on this new nicer, kinder Wall Street for the first time in history. Any need for the federal government to continue pretending to do so will be flewn a’wee, as they say. 4) Also vanished under the ax are hedge funds, mortgage bundles and monetized derivatives, howsoever they may be fraudulently concealed. 5) Nobody (nobody) may issue bonds until the CBA certifies that the bond issuer can for sure repay the obligation without any risk to taxpayers who might otherwise be on the hook in event of default.
The Congressional blather version: All stock markets in the United States are hereby abolished. Abolishment shall expressly include, and is by no means limited to, the New York Stock Exchange, the so-called NASDAQ, New York Mercantile Exchange, New York Board of trade, Chicago Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange, and all other organizations, institutions, systems and devices in use or usable for buying, selling, trading or other dollar-value exchange of stocks and futures, derivatives, hedge funds, and all other financial speculating instruments and practices of every manner and description whatsoever, however defined or identified, or parts of them, along with all their associated devices, procedures and mechanisms, in all U.S. cities wherever they may be located – they are all abolished..
Congress hereby directs that Wall Street and the surrounding streets for a half mile in every direction from the entire length of Wall Street, constituting withal a large oval zero, shall be closed to motorized traffic and converted to pedestrian foot traffic with as many as possible perfectly square vegetable gardens spanning the width of Wall Street between the sidewalks along each side, which garden plots may be rented by any person at a beginning rate of twenty-nine dollars and seventeen cents ($29.17) per month for the purpose of raising fresh vegetables and, if possible, berries. Each garden shall be surrounded by a perimeter flower bed that is sixteen (16) inches in width wherein persons renting said gardens shall grow zinnias and marigolds, and other flowers or berry bushes of their choosing if any. Beginning at 4:00 a.m., and continuing in six-hour shifts around the clock, two licensed street venders shall be permitted to sell hot and/or cold food from pushable two-wheeled carts on the sidewalks in each block of Wall Street, provided that the two venders shall remain on opposite sides of Wall Street throughout their shifts, with the result that sixteen venders thus may be present along Wall Street’s eight blocks during any six-hour period and sixty-four (64) venders may practice their trade during any 24-hour period, and further provided that the City of New York may at its option elect to regulate all this gardening and vending activity as fully as it pleases for the purpose of introducing the concept of meaningful regulation for the first time into this geographic area.
Also hereby abolished with great specificity and certainty aforethought are hedge funds, mortgage bundles and monetized derivatives, howsoever they may be named, fashioned, called, disguised or fraudulently concealed, and participation in the activity(s) they represent by any name is declared a felony punishable by payment of a fine equal to twice the seller’s stipulated sale price for the instruments involved plus incarceration for not less than two (2) years in Gambling School. Patrons and devotees of these devices and the activities used to buy, sell and trade them are hereby referred to exploitive casinos and gambling houses found in spiritually retrograde places across the nation and which, with the abolition of all stock markets, are anticipate to experience a colossal increase in business from the many thousands of gamblers displaced from Wall Street and the nation’s other former stock markets.
In addition, no bond issued in the United States by a state or municipal government or by any quasi-governmental authority may be sold or traded in interstate commerce until the nearest regional branch of the Cooperatives Bank of America (CBA) has certified the sound ability of the issuing authority to fully repay the bond obligation without any financial risk whatsoever to the taxpaying citizens on whom repayment of the bond may be dependent or partially dependent.
Puerto Rico is not just the latest battlefield for a phalanx of hedge funds called “vultures,” which pick at the withered sinews of troubled governments. In Detroit, Greece, Argentina and now Puerto Rico, vultures have bought distressed debt on the cheap, and then used coercion, threats and legal action to secure a massive windfall, compounding the effects on millions of citizens. The legal wrangling masks an irony: as creditors demand that Puerto Rico pay back everything it owes, hedge fund managers have used the island as a tax haven to avoid their own responsibilities. ….This is a $3 trillion industry that operates largely in the shadows.
David Dayen, in The American Prospect
Section 59. (of the Capitalist Free Market Corrections Act – CaFMaC)
Plain English for the Voting Citizen: 1) Organizations that speculate on stocks or derivatives or the many other nefarious forms of gambling with the nation’s finances will no longer be permitted to exist in the USA, and pretty awful penalties for even trying will apply. 2) This Congress means to absolutely eliminate the institutional wellsprings of greed and human exploitation, and all the misery, economic downturns, recessions and depressions they have caused throughout U.S. history – and sad we are that we cannot carve these sins out of the hearts of greedy men who love wealth and control over others.
The Congressional blather version: No stock trading organization or comparable or related enterprise of any nature whatsoever which heretofore, while producing no service or tangible product of real value, gained artificial profit by merely speculating on or in any other manner manipulating the stocks, activities and values of other organizations, genuinely productive or not, or by cannibalistic hostile takeovers, parasitical mergers, and various other wealth extracting and value destroying selloffs and massive employee layoffs in callous and unpatriotic disregard for the common interests of the citizens of the United States, shall be permitted to further exist under this Act. Such organizations and enterprises shall be summarily liquidated and their useful assets, if any, auctioned to interested co-ops, if any. Any person(s) convicted of attempting to reestablish any such parasitical/cannibalistic organization or activity, or to divert a co-op to such activity, shall be sentenced to not less than four (4) years in Poverty School followed by four (4) more years in Gambling School without possibility of parole. If such convict survive the eight years and be released to free civil society, the convict shall be guaranteed entry-level employment at a facility which manufactures and handles deadly chemicals, or, if no such chemicals still exist eight years after the conviction, at a sewage-handling facility.
With these measures we the members of the Congress of the United States, in full appreciation of our roles and responsibilities as elected representatives of All The People, with firm intent to eradicate utterly the foremost institutional wellsprings of greed, human exploitation and manipulative financial speculation and the resulting frequent economic downturns, recessions and depressions they have caused throughout U.S. history, hereby do recognize and publicly affirm that the self-serving pursuits of participants in hedge funds, in sales of so-called derivatives, and in speculative stock market activities generally, have demonstrably harmed large numbers of their fellow American citizens and their fellow humanity worldwide by causing a near-limitless array of social and civic evils, including reactive responses by victimized governments around the world such as, and by no means limited to:
slashing minimum wages already at poverty level; drastically increasing regressive sales taxes which fall most burdensomely on the poor; firing school teachers; ignoring labor laws; passing off public assets to profit-making private entities; not paying employees for overtime worked; cutting vacation benefits; delaying tax refunds; cutting back on public transportation; firing thousands of public sector workers who provided vital governmental services to their fellow citizens; reducing health care benefits while raising deductibles and copayments; delaying payments to suppliers; closing schools; forcing legitimate businesses to accept IOUs in lieu of bonafide payment; raiding pension funds; and a host of comparable offenses which maliciously pit their fellow citizens who must pay the taxes which sustain governmental purposes and services against speculative financial entities which scheme to parasitize the publicly-owned revenue of governments.
We, the members of Congress representing All The People, here affirm our intent to 1) bring to an end the human hardship and suffering unceasingly caused by these selfish acts; 2) to educate economically illiterate mindsets like that of the talk-show interviewer who became openly confused and said “It’s not?” when his learned guest pointed out that “the market” is not the same thing as the capitalistic economic model presently used in the United States and elsewhere; and 3) to achieve a richly fuller measure of the founding fathers’ optimistic intent for the constitutional democratic republic launched in 1789, to the benefit of the common good of the nation and of equal treatment and opportunity for all U.S. citizens.
The markets in fact serve our wants and desires, not our intrinsic needs. To be more precise, markets prod people to want things that they do not really need. The more we consume, the more we are flooded with things we can do without. Breaking out of this vicious circle is hard, because the system is rigged in favor of powerful corporate interests that place short-term profits above human well-being.
Hector F. Sierra, in Free Inquiry
Section 60. (of the Capitalist Free Market Corrections Act – CaFMaC)
Plain English for the Voting Citizen: 1) In-your-face damn advertising is dead in the USA and good riddance praise God.
The Congressional blather version: Advertising is hereby abolished in the United States. Ads of every type and description whatsoever, including but not limited to visual, audible, electronic and subliminally manifested ads, are hereby declared illegal and shall be eliminated within ninety (90) days after enactment of this legislation. Any co-op or other enterprise commanding less than five percent (5%) of its primary market segment(s) shall retain the privilege to list, at its option, its goods and/or services in yellow pages and/or to post its products and their prices in detail on its web site and in its front window if it has one. The proactive behavior known as “marketing,” being a subordinate component of the broader overall function known as advertising, thus expressly designed and intended to persuade citizens to spend their living income on objects and activities they might not have otherwise considered as personal priorities in the absence of such insidious, pressured, persuasion to sell you something without care for your wishes or best interests, is coincidentally also abolished and hereby declared a felony. No organization engaged in advertising or marketing may be converted to a co-op. The Department of Labor shall assist those persons whose advertising- and marketing-related jobs are eliminated by abolishment of these activities to develop honest skills and find useful employment.
Section 61. (of the Capitalist Free Market Corrections Act – CaFMaC)
Plain English for the Voting Citizen: 1) With advertising deep sixed, enterprising co-ops may elect to put competitive price comparisons on their websites for easy reference by folks who like to compare prices before going out to buy something they feel they truly need.
The Congressional blather version: In the interest of enhancing more complete and genuine free competition, any co-op may elect, as a legitimate business activity under the terms of this legislation, to serve as a clearinghouse to collect and post on its website, for public consultation, the competing prices, including its own prices, for comparable items sold by various co-ops and businesses in a market region, sub-region or municipality, and such activity shall not be deemed advertising. The name and address of every co-op and business listed on such clearinghouse website shall be stated so that a consulting consumer may decide whether saving a buck is worth the cost of driving to a distant seller’s location. Any co-op or other business may post its unembellished name on its storefront or premises, and this too shall not be deemed advertising.
The Pope, I believe, is correct when he argues that a new way of thinking is needed to change the status quo: “If we want to bring about deep change, we need to realize that certain mind-sets really do influence our behavior. Our efforts at education will be inadequate and ineffectual unless we strive to promote a new way of thinking about human beings, life, society and our relationship with nature. Otherwise, the paradigm of consumerism will continue to advance, with the help of the media and the highly effective workings of the market.” Indeed, if we want to transform the world, we need first to transform ourselves.
Hector F. Sierra, also in Free Inquiry (December 2015)
Section 62. (of the Capitalist Free Market Corrections Act – CaFMaC)
Plain English for the Voting Citizen: 1) Local governments may levy fines as big as they please on any advertising that hasn’t disappeared after ninety days.
The Congressional blather version: Local municipal and county jurisdictions are hereby encouraged to levy substantial fines, in whatever amounts they deem suitable, on any and all entities which have not removed and/or ceased all visible, subliminal, audible and/or electronic advertising of every sort beginning ninety (90) days after enactment of this legislation.
Section 63. (of the Capitalist Free Market Corrections Act – CaFMaC)
Plain English for the Voting Citizen: 1) The CBA will help newspapers and other news media get past the crisis of learning to live without income from endless annoying ads, because making sure our citizens are well informed is necessary if we are to continue having democracy in the USA. The first thing tyrants do is take over the news media.
The Congressional blather version: Until the nation’s news media normalize the impact of transitions resulting from 1) conversion of all news corporations to employee-owned co-ops, 2) improved financial stability from ending the custom of removing profits, and 3) abolishing advertising and thus terminating competition for it, all as mandated by this Act, and given that a well informed electorate is essential to democratic government, the Cooperatives Bank of America (CBA) shall assist the transition with loans and financial incentives to newspapers and broadcast media that have come to depend on and represent advertisers more than they represent news. Such CBA assistance to newspapers shall be contingent on their restoring at least the level and quality of news coverage they were offering their readers on January 1, 2000. The Congress encourages commercial radio and television broadcasters to emulate the models of National Public Radio and public television, but, recognizing that many will be unable to bring themselves up to this high standard, acknowledges that there are way too many out there bleating away anyway and a shaking out may unclutter the airwaves to the cultural betterment of all the people.
SUMMARY of Sections 60-63
Plain English for the Voting Citizen: 1) Congress intends to halt the great United States’ degrading descent into a cacophonous quagmire of advertising in, on and around every last American from birth to death. The good life does not require and in fact abhors the incessant din of advertising, which has been totally out of civilized bounds for decades now and keeps getting worse. In case there’s any doubt of how serious we are about this, read the following blather and, if you’re in advertising, weep.
The Congressional blather version: With these four measures it is the intent of Congress to restore a measure of dignity and civility to U.S. life and commerce, and to the appearance of ad-cluttered buildings, roadsides and all other commons in the United States, on behalf of individual citizens unceasingly distracted by ubiquitous persuasions to spend their money on things they had not planned to spend it on, and of impressionable children who from birth are bombarded by thousands of advertising and marketing persuasions every day of their lives.
While preserving consumer ability to use modern internet technology to easily and quickly compare competitive prices for similar products, to the benefit of the common good of the nation and a grateful populace, Congress specifically intends that roadside billboards, tobacco signs on barns and beverage signs on windows, digital pop-ups on computer screens, radio and TV commercials including Superbowl insanity, brand-name blimps above fairgrounds, brands printed on shoes, clothing and hats, bumper stickers, political ads and other unwelcome telephone solicitations from unknown, unwanted and deceptive solicitors at suppertime, neon-lighted cacophonies surrounding Times Square and the Las Vegas strip at great cost and waste of otherwise useful electrical energy, and ads personally targeting individuals based on intrusive analysis of their private purchase records, among the multitudinous other forms of advertising and marketing everywhere on U.S. soil and in the very ether surrounding us, shall be hereafter consigned permanently and comprehensively back to that hell from which they sprang.
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