Pay Tickets Or Die

The guy running for Mayor of Philadelphia as a Democrat will win the election, Philly is a Democratic town. And this guy has a great idea.

He wants meter maids to not only give out parking tickets, but since they’re out in the street anyway, other kinds of tickets as well. Like for littering and jaywalking.

Not to generate more fines for the city, of course. How could you think that? But because we want to keep the city clean, and walkers safe.

A couple of problems here, however.

Autos have license plates but individual litters and jaywalkers don’t. So to make sure the right people are ticketed, should we all be obliged to wear personal license plates on our backs and chests? In order to keep the city cleaner, and prevent traffic deaths from jaywalking?

Since some litterers and jaywalkers might object to being stopped on the street, and might even get violent, should meter maids be armed? And if a litterer, say, is shot trying to escape a littering incident, should the armed meter maid be punished or given a citation for bravery in the line of duty?

OK. You don’t like wearing personal license plates, and you don’t think arming meter maids is a great idea. How about a technology fix to make this great idea practical?

Facial recognition technology has made tremendous strides in recent years. Arm meter maids with these devices instead of guns, devices that record faces of litterers or jaywalkers, run it through computers that show their addresses, send them a fine bill by mail. And if they don’t pay off dun their wages or seize their property.

We don’t even need to depend on just meter maids to track these miscreants. Just install more street cameras than London has everywhere in Philly that are supposed to spot violent criminals and also use them on the littering and jaywalking front. And on the not waiting for a red light to change front. And the drinking beer that isn’t in a brown bag front.

Our soon to be new mayor of Philly has a great ticketing idea. Wonder what else he has waiting in the wings.

[My newest book is Gorilla Warfare Against The Bureaucratic State — Confessions of a Lefty Libertarian.]


I’m Running For President Of The United States

This announcement that I am running for president appeared in the May 12, 2015 Washington Times. It nicely describes my credentials and prospects.

Silverstein throws his hat into the ring
(No one else has claimed the lefty libertarian mantle)

By Michael Silverstein – – Tuesday, May 12, 2015

While nobody has actually asked me to run for president of the United States, I have begun to sense a yearning for me to do so emanating from the ranks of the still-uncommitted silent majority.

So after prayers, fasting, discussions with my family, and careful consideration of opinions offered by Sunday morning talking heads, I have decided to throw my hat into the ring as a Republican.

Am I qualified?

While it’s true that I’ve never performed brain surgery, run a computer company, and wasn’t born in Hope, Arkansas — qualifications listed by other recently declared candidates — I bring to the contest things these others lack.

I’m the only wannabe, for example, who has tried to live on Social Security and succeeded, at least to date. It’s the kind of real-world experience that will resonate strongly with a very large and endlessly ticked off voting bloc — crotchety old white men.

And that’s not all.

I’ve never actually held public office, which is a real plus in today’s world as my record can’t be either found or attacked. Still, I am the only presently announced candidate of either party who has been on a past presidential ticket — though not at the top of this ticket.

In 1992, I was privileged to be selected by the American Art Party as its vice-presidential standard bearer by virtue of my work as an anti-parking ticket crusader. The top of the ticket that year was occupied by a house cat named Colette Silverwood. (Boy, could that tabby work a room!). I’m proud to report that while this party’s spending on the campaign was no greater than the cost of a can of Sheba, we still got as many electoral votes as Ross Perot, who spent millions on his own run.

People talk a lot these days about the need for inclusiveness with candidates bragging incessantly about their sensitivity to the needs and desires of different ethnicities, genders and folks of differing sexual orientations. That’s nice. But if the public really wants a candidate with a proven big-tent background, I am someone who can boast of being politically linked to a running mate of a different species, which has to give me an edge.

Where do I stand on the big issues? Let’s just say they are evolving.

I still have yet to meet with Sheldon Adelson to construct a foreign policy, and with Charles Koch to come up with one that covers energy and the environment. Reaching out still further, I plan to bring in policy professionals from past Republican administrations to advise me about how to make the country’s economy better by further enriching the rich so they trickle down more largesse, and get their suggestions concerning where to start our next big war. I’m certain these experts have a lot of ideas on these matters.

This is not to say I won’t seek advice from real people as well. I intend to meet with these real Americans in primary state diners at 11 in the morning, the time and place real Americans gather for eggs, coffee and an occasional doughnut.

Many candidates avoid such encounters because they find it impossible to listen attentively to their whines, snivels and moans. That won’t be a problem for this candidate. I’m well stocked with Xanax and Valium, and for especially tiresome crowds, I may even have a few Quaaludes left over from my days as a Deadhead.

Now you’re probably wondering about my attitude toward accepting campaign contributions from special interest PACs. Will I do that?

You think a guy willing to take second place on a ticket topped by a house cat would feel bad about selling his soul to very rich people? Who am I to deny the right of these folks to buy influence, anyway?

So I’m in — win or lose — and if I don’t make it this time around, I have a back-up plan.

I might accept a generous book deal, join a conservative think tank as a visiting scholar or combine both with a speaking tour. As a former presidential candidate, I would also be in line to join some Fortune 500 boards, become a Fox regular, and maybe spew wisdom to young people at an Ivy League college for an hour once a week.

Or I could join the private sector by managing a hedge fund. Compensation here fell dramatically from 2013 to 2014, but the top 25 hedge fund managers still eke out a combined income of $11.67 billion or an acceptable $211,538 an hour.

A person could live pretty comfortably on that. There might even be enough left over to self-fund a future political campaign. Or if that seems like too much trouble, hire a substitute to front my agenda once I develop one.

• Michael Silverstein is a former senior editor with Bloomberg’s Markets magazine. His latest book, now available on Amazon, is Gorilla Warfare Against the Bureaucratic State (Confessions of a Lefty Libertarian).

Here’s the link to the story about Silverstein’s run that appeared in the Washington Times:

Hillary Leans To The Left — Somewhat

Hillary Leans To The Left — Somewhat

Hillary’s sharing her liberal side,
Giving the left a good lather,
There are winks, a few hints, a suggestion or two,
A finely wrought serving of blather.

You kind of agree, though you’re not always sure,
‘Cause what’s said here is oft’ rather subtle,
So nuanced, in fact, it makes one suspect,
Down the road she might shape a rebuttal.

Does she lean to the left, to the middle, the right?
What’s the future plans of this contender?
No she needn’t agree on all issues with me,
Just tell me her real agenda.

My new book: Gorilla Warfare Against The Bureaucratic State (Confessions of a Lefty Libertarian).

Bernie Sanders For President Poem

Bernie Sanders For President

I had a dream the other night
About this country’s politics;
I dreamed that for too many years
We haven’t had no real picks.
(Bernie’s different from the pack,
Has some views that others lack.)

These days we hear a lot of news
‘Bout countries out to build the bomb;
But truth be told what worries me
The sinking ship I’m drifting on.
(Sure I’m sad bout Mid-East’s ills,
But sadder ‘bout my Visa bills.)

Our nation’s wealth just grows and grows.
A picture most inspi-er-ing;
But most new wealth, to old wealth flows,
I’m left in debt en-mi-er-ing.
(CEOs make out big time,
I squeeze by on overtime.)

One size fits all ain’t right by me,
No matter the vote lever;
And just as bad, a game that’s rigged
By K Street lobbies clever.
(Could sixties lefties long a’tooth,
See their ideas respawned forsooth?)

Michael Silverstein is a former Bloomberg News senior editor;
his latest book is Gorilla Warfare Against The Bureaucratic
State (Confessions of a Lefty Libertarian).

Gorilla Warfare

My new book just became available. It’s a real hoot.

A most unusual political memoir: Gorilla Warfare Against The Bureaucratic State (Confessions of a Lefty Libertarian).

This book’s definition of “gorilla” — An individual who takes on hopeless but worthwhile causes; who disrupts (at least for awhile) the machinations of deeply entrenched interests; or who causes a change (at least to some extent) in ossified thinking; and who does these things while wearing gorilla slippers.

The book describes the gorilla’s painful (and often painfully funny) dealings with the solar energy, poetry, environmental, and parking ticket establishments.

About the Author: Michael Silverstein is a former senior editor with Bloomberg News. Over the years his writing has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Atlanta Constitution, Christian Science Monitor, etc. He’s also been a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and Boston Phoenix, and a regular commentator on National Public Radio.

A Progressive’s Call For Smaller Government

Conservatives are shredding the safety net. They say government spending here is getting out of control.

I agree. We have to reduce spending in this realm. And there’s only one sensible and sustainable way to do this: We have to reform the private sector of the economy.

Isn’t that obvious? The main reason more and more people need government aid is because their economic needs aren’t being met by working in the private sector. If they made enough, they wouldn’t need food stamps. If they made enough, they wouldn’t need subsidies to help pay for their health insurance.

Raise the minimum wage, and safety net spending decreases. Rebalance the tax code so it doesn’t unduly favor capital over labor, investors over workers, and fewer working people would qualify for earned income credits that reduce government revenues.

The government safety net that covers the elderly, the disabled and the impoverished young should of course remain in tact. But the part of that safety net that today is growing so quickly because working people are being squeezed in a top-heavy marketplace, could be cut dramatically with reforms of the private sector.

Progressives — ditto the conservatives’ call for smaller government. Just combine the call with the most sensible and sustainable way to bring it about. Marketplace reform.

(Michael Silverstein’s recent books, all available from Amazon, include: The Devil’s Dictionary Of Wall Street, and the comic novels’ Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan, The Bellman’s Revenge, and Murder At Bernstein’s.)

Fly Cheap, Fly Wheel Well

Two big problems face the airlines industry today. Carriers want to increase their seating capacity without ordering more planes, but because of excessive government regulation they are not permitted to seat passengers on the wings of their aircraft.

The other big problem is airline fares. A lot of people can’t afford them, and this is especially true of young people with little economic opportunity in today’s version of the American Opportunity Society.

So what’s the solution to both these problems? Wheel well seating on both domestic and overseas flights.

Arctic sleeping bags and oxygen breathing equipment do away with any prissy safety concerns about this mode of travel. The airlines get their extra seating with no new plane purchases. Passengers get cheap flights that with one thing and another, after all the comfort cut-backs in recent years, are not that much less comfortable than flying commuter class.

(Michael Silverstein’s latest books: The Devil’s Dictionary of Wall Street, Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan, The Bellman’s Revenge, and Murder at Bernstein’s — all available from Amazon)

Personhood For All Living And Non-Living Things

An article in today’s New York Times describes the work of some lawyers seeking to win personhood rights for animals. You know. Dogs, monkeys, rabbits, ferrets, persons like that.

And why the hell not? Charley the Chimp is every bit as much a person as IBM or Apple.

And when you get right down to it, why not open the doors of personhood to single-celled as well as multi-celled creatures. Heck, the bacteria in your gut is also as much a person as some Wall Street corporation.

It would probably take years for the important constitutional issues involving personhood for everyone and everything to reach the Masters Of Law in our Supreme Court. So we’d better get the balling rolling soon. Because to get this critical constitutional issue settled appropriately, we’ll need the court to decide before legal giants like Scalia and Thomas have passed on.

Michael Silverstein’s latest books: The Devil’s Dictionary of Wall Street, Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan, The Bellman’s Revenge, and Murder at Bernstein’s — all available from Amazon.

Dear HP, Please Marry Me

The Supreme Court has recognized a corporation’s constitutional right to political expression. It may soon do the same for a corporation’s right to religious expression. So shouldn’t the right of corporations to marry — not just other corporations via mergers but marry people — be recognized as well? And if a guy like me also happens to have a thing for Hewlett-Packard and wants to hook up, shouldn’t I have the right to pop the question?

Dear HP, Please Marry Me

Dear HP, please marry me
And soon enough we’ll make them see
That man and firm can find a way
To mate, the heck what skeptics say.

Our courtship past was long and bumpy
On the road to rumpy pumpy
But soon, I’m sure, we’ll be much freer
Thanks to Antonin Scalia.

His law proclaims we’re both the same
So will you deign to share my name
And stride the world, head high, a queen
As Hewlett-Packard Silverstein.

(Recent books by this writer, The Devil’s Dictionary Of Wall StreetFifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan, and The Bellman’s Revenge, are all available from Amazon)

How To Reanimate The U.S. Economy

These days you often hear that our politics have become “monetized.” That with all the money pouring into elections, especially since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, government is being distorted in ways that work only for deep pocket special interests and not the interests of the American people generally.

Yes, that’s a negative. But perhaps we should also focus more on the upside. Focus on the way all this election spending helps give our moribund economy a positive jolt. From this perspective, the problem is not that too much money is fouling the system, but that too little is going toward buying public office.

Soaring spending on elections is in fact one of the economy’s major growth sectors. And while a lot of this spending gets no further than the sticky palms of a few contribution bundlers, a lot more tickles down to a fast expanding network of middle class and even poor staffers who do campaign field work, and have other fundraising, soliciting, technical, legal and communication employment.

Based on these profound insights, the question then becomes how to further grow election-based spending. A few obvious answers quickly come to mind.

First, of course, we could start at the top. Almost half of the $6.3 billion spent on electing people to office in 2012 went into the Obama-Romney campaigns. Presidential elections now take place every four years. With a simple constitutional amendment, however, we can have them every two years and double presidential election spending with all its attendant economic benefits.

And why not do this, after all? There would be no loss in the quality of governance from the White House from such a change. The last two years of a sitting president’s first term are totally geared to getting reelected. In the last two years of a second term a sitting president is a lame duck. We drop the last two years of each term and lose nothing of political consequence while gaining billions in economy-animating spending.

Competitive congressional races are now another spending cash cow. Candidates may now need to raise $19 million or more for a competitive Senate race and more than $9 million in a competitive race for a House seat. Again, just a small constitutional tweak that makes election for a House seat every year and a Senate seat every two years would double House election spending and triple (yes, triple!) spending on Senate races.

The economic boost here could be expanded even further by lowering the bar to get on the ballot in every state, thereby allowing anyone with a few extra bucks and some time on their hands to run for national office. This would confuse voters even more than they are presently confused and thus make even more races for Congress competitive.

Elections for national office are just the tip of this economy-enhancing iceberg. The Census bureau reported that in 2012 there are more than 89,000 local governments in this country — state, county, municipal, town and township, special and school districts. Within these local governments there are often a fair number of positions that are elective. No national constitution and relatively few state constitutional amendments would be needed to change the length of time between elections for most of these hundreds of thousands of elected offices. Reduce times between all these local races, the potential growth of overall campaign spending is mind boggling.

The flood of money that now goes into getting elected to so many public offices has soured many Americans on our politics. Do I have a solution for this sad political reality? No. All I’m saying is that since we’re stuck with political lemons, let’s make more economic lemonade. And since we don’t even have the best government money can buy, let’s spend some more and maybe its quality will improve.

Michael Silverstein’s newest book, available from Amazon. Is The Devil’s Dictionary Of Wall Street.