How To Contact Selig Cartwright, Goldman Sachs Washroom Attendant

Every once in awhile Selig Cartwright, Goldman Sachs washroom attendant, puts down his mop, plunger, and toilet brush to answer emails. Doing so is a welcome break from serving the hygiene needs of Wall Street insiders, pandering to their absurd pretensions and delusional sense of self worth, and being reminded daily of their outrageous and undeserved compensation.

Selig enjoys getting email. Sometimes he even answers. You can reach him at:

P.S. Selig’s dear friend, Kay wood, has a wonderful graphic novel project on Kickstarter — The Big Belch. Selig would love you to help get this project funded. Pledges as small as $5 and even $1 would be much appreciated.


Corporate Shareholders Are Slave Owners!

You can own property, but you can’t own other people. Those who do own other people are slave owners. Those who are owned are slaves.

Corporations are people, ‘persons’ or ‘natural persons’ as they are usually referred to in court. They are owned by corporate share owners. Corporations are therefore slaves and must be liberated. And doing so is the great civil rights issue of our time.

All these statements are so obviously true that it is almost painful to have to explain, much less justify, them. But so warped has our thinking become in these matters, so cowardly when it comes to facing up to a possible disruption of an established economic order, that I’m obliged to do so here.

Corporations are born (incorporated) in a defined place at a defined time. Die (go bankrupt) the same way. Get married (merge). Beget offspring (spin-offs). Adopt (acquisitions). They borrow, loan, bequeath, give charity, get sued, hire, fire, own properties, and as that Citizens United Supreme Court decision made clear, they have the same right to free speech as any other person. Even Mitt Romney, who may soon be President of these United States, stated recently that “corporations are people.”

Such is the everyday proof of corporate personhood. Here’s the legal proof.

Since the Supreme Court’s Dartmouth College v Woodward decision in 1819, courts have upheld the view that corporations are “natural persons” (i.e. humans). Many other court decisions since that time have upheld this same view.

In perhaps he most direct statement of the court’s thinking on this matter, in a 1898 case the Chief Justice began oral argument by stating: “The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all [every Justice] of the opinion that it does.” The same clarity was on view in a later case, Pembina Consolidated Silver Mining Co. v. Pennsylvania. Here the Court ruled (and not just in a note either) that: “Under the designation of ‘person’ there is no doubt that a private corporation is included…in the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Here’s what the Fourteenth Amendment itself says in regard to people (i.e. persons) who happen to be, as courts have often decreed, corporations: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

And here’s what the Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution says about having people — a term that so clearly includes corporations — as slaves: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Put it all together, especially the juxtapose of the Thirteen and Fourteenth Amendments and their interpretation at the highest judicial levels, and it seems almost impossible that any fair-minded person (homo sapien or homo corporatus) should not immediately call for the end of stockholder ownership of U.S.-formed corporations. But fair-minded aside, would the present-day Supreme Court step up on this issue?

Certainly it could. I mean, this is a court that has proven itself fearless with regard to the consequences of its rulings. Beyond this, turning corporate persons into freemen would be a perfect bookend to the court’s despicable 1858 Dred Scott decision that held African-Americans to be property and hence deserving of slavedom, by today turning entities (corporations), who a lot of people still consider mere property, into fully liberated citizens.

As for the supposed negative social consequences of such a ruling, fears that one’s sister, for example, might get it on with Yahoo or Facebook. Surely that’s her business. And in case you haven’t noticed, she probably already is.

Which brings us back to that old economic bugaboo. The fear that emancipating corporations from their slave owning stockholders would bring about economic disaster. In this regard I need only point back to this country’s own pre-Civil War history with slavery, when slaves were the largest single store of easily sold “property.” After not a single dollar in compensation was paid to slave owners after passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, the American economy did not collapse. It thrived.

Freed corporations would also not suffer from lack of “guidance” by their former slave owning shareholders, or from the Simon Legrees of Wall Street endlessly demanding more and more for these shareholders at the expense of corporate workers and customers. Indeed, no longer obliged to skim off earned profits to pad the lifestyles of fat cat investors and Street sharks, the economy would certainly do very much better.

If the courts fail in this crusade, fail to immediately put on their big kid robes and risk established interest slings and arrows to do what plainly ought be done here, perhaps we need look elsewhere for a savior. Not a Clarence Darrow legal eagle to change legal minds, but a Charlton Heston-like figure doing the Moses thing to bring about the liberation.

I can visualize someone very like Heston, hair tastefully upswept and white-tinted, attired in flowing wine-dark robes, sporting domestically produced sandals on feet with festering corns the product of disdaining public transit, and a mighty staff that doubles as a snake that eats any three snakes pitted against it (my snake is bigger than yours — an argument that resonates especially well with young right-leaning males), standing on the steps of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, crying out to all within:

“Let Ford Motors Go!”

That’s what I’ve been visualizing of late. Are you having this vision, too?


To learn more about a quirky novel, a very unusual book of verse, and some Goldman Sachs satires from the author of this piece, hit one of these icons:

Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan, art by Kay Wood ©2012           A Dyspeptic's Guide To Contemporary American Politics (In Verse) ©2012         The Chronicles Of Selig Cartwright, Goldman Sachs Washroom Attendant: Volume 1 by Michael Silverstien

Coming Soon: Worst-Of-The-Worst Political Ad Reviews

I started writing reviews of TV commercials in the 1970s. I did so not only because some commercials on the tube back then were more innovative, interesting, and entertaining than the actual shows they intruded upon with such frequency, but in order to make some money.

You know. Writing for money. It’s hard to remember, but back then it was still occasionally possible.

My compensation for these reviews, however, wasn’t all that much and didn’t come my way directly. The reviews were done for Fusion Magazine in Boston, basically a music-oriented publication that got slews of freebies from record companies. My “pay” thus consisted of a stack of record albums, which I then had to travel to a record store in New York City that paid a buck or two per album.

A lot of driving for not all that much net income. But gas was cheap, I was young, and like I said, I loved doing those reviews.

So now I’m jumping back on the TV commercial review bandwagon. This time with no actual compensation in view. (Though you never know.) And this time around, instead of reviews of TV commercials for consumer products, I will be doing (along with an old friend). reviews of the political ads now appearing in toxic profusion on our TV screens nightly, and destined to pollute them with greater and greater frequency as we approach election day.

These reviews will not focus on any one party’s output. Indeed, they won’t involve party- and candidate-produced ads at all. Rather, they will only look at what is offered up by Super-PACs, those attack vehicles being copiously excreted with Supreme Court blessing by rich folks who don’t have to reveal their identities as the ads’ paymasters.

Another thing different about these views. They will not do what some organizations are already doing — monitor the accuracy of ad content, how deceptive they are, how filled with half truths and outright lies.

Why bother doing that? Of course they’re deceptive, filled with half-truths and outright lies. That’s what they are designed to do because they now have the unlimited legal right to do so without even having to identify who is paying to spew half-truths and lies for their own ultimate benefit!

Our reviews will therefore take these disgusting realities as givens. We will then move on to be as disrespectful as possible because what is there to be respectful about when it comes to an abomination that is nothing more than in-your-face proof of the monetization of democracy?

So after making a few suitably contemptuous observations, we simply assign our selected targets into appropriately disparaging categories that might include: Utter and absolute claptrap; Without any redeeming value whatever; Eye candy for the already brain dead; Trash with good production values; Best smarmy voice-over; Best grainy photoshop picture of the opposition candidate; etc.

When the campaign season ends, we then plan to give a worst-of-the-absolute-worst award (the Scalia-Thomas) to the creators and producers of a Super-PAC ad that best embodies what the whole wretched business is all about. The award will be made at a ceremony in a Trenton New Jersey boarded up senior center or similar venue.

And to those who might wonder if the “winners” of this award will be too embarrassed to accept it, I can only opine: Embarrassed? How can you embarrass someone willing to front for the Koch brothers?

Look for these reviews to start appearing soon on your favorite web sites.


To learn more about a quirky novel, a very unusual book of verse, and some Goldman Sachs satires from the author of this piece, hit one of these icons:

Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan, art by Kay Wood ©2012           A Dyspeptic's Guide To Contemporary American Politics (In Verse) ©2012         The Chronicles Of Selig Cartwright, Goldman Sachs Washroom Attendant: Volume 1 by Michael Silverstien

Another Great Book Review For: Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan

Book Review: Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan
by JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief. The Moderate Voice

…Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan (The Bizarre Adventures of Morey Caine) is a comic, thriller gothic novel centering on the saga of how Caine, a struggling alternative newspaper reporter, gets drawn into sinister things going on and lurking beneath the streets of Manhattan. There are creepy humans under the streets — and non-humans almost as creepy as the creepy humans. he gets sucked into events by an insidious sanitation bureaucrat. But the real villain is Victor ben Shargis who dreams of a future in which he takes over much more than the underground.

The only question in reading this book is: exactly where has Silverstein been HIDING all these years as a fiction writer? He is a GREAT writer and enthralling storyteller whose writing packs a hay-maker punch with vividly constructed scenes and punchy, realistic dialogue — a writer who easily elicits a chuckle or two (or more). The real shocker of this book is that you’d think Silverstein has been been writing this kind of lightening-paced thriller for years since it stacks up well against any thrillers on the market today or yesterday.

Hopefully, Silverstein will do more lively fictions books such as this…I see him selling a script to Hollywood.

Michael Silverstein: I LOVED your book…I really loved your book. And this is coming from someone who does not always enjoy fiction.


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Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan, art by Kay Wood ©2012

Selig Cartwright, Goldman Sachs Washroom Attendant, Is Back — In Book Form

I’ve been writing a series about the failings and transgressions of Wall Street investment banks built around a fictional character named Selig Cartwright. It is set in a fictional washroom of Goldman Sachs. The series has run on The Moderate Voice website, and been picked up by scores of other popular sites including ones linked to USA Today, The India Times, The Dallas News, et. al.

I’ve now selected the best of these published satires, added a number of unpublished gems, and packaged 24 of them into a new e-book now available on Amazon — The Chronicles of Selig Cartwright, Goldman Sachs Washroom Attendant: Volume I.

Why is this satire of Wall Street investment banks set in a washroom? The rich, it’s often said, are different than the rest of us. Not in all ways, however. As poet Robert Burns famously noted: “A man’s a man for all that.” And there are few places where the similarities are more apparent than a washroom.

This is thus a perfect setting in which the economic two-tiering of American society — Wall Street and Main Street — can readily be played out satirically. Where today’s growing economic inequality can be juxtaposed against traditional American notions of social equality in satirical ways.

Are the underlying issues being batted about here, amid the washbasins and toilet stalls, serious and even deeply troubling ones? Sure. But they won’t get resolved with yet another serious and troubling book. So let’s have some fun instead.

Drop your bowl brush, Selig. You’re on! In an e-book now available on Amazon for $2.99:

Celebrity Apprentice —Losing Presidential Candidates Edition

I have to admit it. I miss the gang of presidential wannabes that made the long-running Republican nominating process such a…such a…distinctive exercise. I’ve been watching presidential aspirants come and go for more than 40 years, and can say in all honesty that I’ve never seen a field of this…of this…caliber presenting itself to take the reins of the U.S. government and the leadership of the Free World.

Seeing these aspirants reunited in an appropriate setting, indeed, a setting presided over by one of their own early aspiring number, thus seems to me the perfect cap on a nominating process that ended by giving us a Wall Street vulture fund executive as the Republican nominee for President.

And what might such a perfectly appropriate setting be for these presidential also-rans in my view? Being part of a Donald Trump, Celebrity Apprentice — Losing Presidential Candidates series starting this coming fall. A series that if it actually came about, would run in tandem with that other cash-based TV vehicle, our next national election.

Just imagine! A weekly television show in which Herman vies with Michele to come up with an ad campaign to boost business at a family hardware store. Or the pithy exchanges between a visionary Newt and a values peddling Rick as they argue over what might work best for a charity fund raiser.

Could an almost also-ran such as Sarah be brought on the show to hype ratings? Might The Donald himself come down from his perch as Firer-In-Chief to take part in side debates about Michele’s Norwegian citizenship? The mind boggles.

Is there a Celebrity Apprentice —Losing Presidential Candidates Edition in our TV watching future? There has been no public announcement to that effect. But if it actually happened, who’d really be surprised?

Tasteless, tawdry, repetitive reality TV, juxtaposed with tasteless, tawdry, repetitive Super-PAC ad buying politics? It’s a natural.


To learn more about a quirky novel, a very unusual book of verse, and some Goldman Sachs satires from the author of this piece, hit one of these icons:

Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan, art by Kay Wood ©2012           A Dyspeptic's Guide To Contemporary American Politics (In Verse) ©2012         The Chronicles Of Selig Cartwright, Goldman Sachs Washroom Attendant: Volume 1 by Michael Silverstien


Selig Cartwright, Goldman Sachs Washroom Attendant: Mr. B’s Dimon And Clooney Angst

Poor, poor Jaimie Dimon. My heart goes out to the man, Selig.

But Mr. B, he’s a competitor. He heads another Wall Street bank, JPMorgan Chase.

I know Selig. I know. But his company lost $2 billion on some trading deals. Lost money, Selig! It was terribly embarrassing for the poor man.

But don’t Wall Street banks often lose money on their trading?

Almost never, Selig. Goldman made money 25 days last month and only lost money one day — and that was a bad month. Sometimes we go whole quarters without a single losing day. The really strange thing at Jamie’s bank is not just that it actually lost money on trades, but that the losses involved simple stuff, credit default swaps.

Credit default swaps, sir?

You know, Selig, Synthetic derivatives.

Synthetic derivatives?

For heavens sakes, Selig. They’re just a kind of insurance. Like the insurance that little people like yourself buy to insure their cars, their houses, their lives, except this $10 trillion insurance market is free from socialist government regulation. That’s what gives banks the ability to innovate there so we rarely lose money on our trading.

Didn’t such innovation nearly destroy the world economy a few years back, Mr. B?

Yes, Selig. Mistakes were made. We mustn’t focus on the past, however. Got to keep innovating. Like one of Goldman’s own innovations — pair trading.

Pair trading, sir? You mean like putting clients in a deal, then betting the other side?

That was yesterday’s pair trading, Selig. A better pair trading strategy these days involves buying the Australian dollar and shorting the S&P 500 Index. Or vice-versa. Ever do that one at home?

I’ll ask my wife, sir. She handles the family money. But there’s something I don’t understand, Mr. B. Wall Street firms were bailed out by taxpayers a few years ago. Was this bailout so the banks could continue to make most of their money innovating with things like synthetic derivatives? With buying or shorting currencies and indexes?

Can you think of a better use for taxpayer money, Selig? I certainly can’t. But that’s not what I wanted to discuss with you this morning. I have a question. Am I as handsome as George Clooney?

Beg pardon, sir?

George Clooney. The actor. Speak up, man. And be honest. Do I or don’t I look as handsome as George Clooney?

Well, Mr. B., if the lighting were a certain way, or the bulb blew, or the person doing the viewing had cataracts, or was standing far enough away, or..

I think I’m catching your drift, Selig. Darn.

What’s the problem, Mr. B? Why do you care whether or not you’re as handsome as George Clooney? He only entertains people. Wall Street is making the world a better place with synthetic derivatives, and with currency and index plays.

The reason, Selig, is that Wall Street has decided to back Romney this time around, while Hollywood is backing Obama. And I thought if George Clooney and I were both viewed as equally handsome and sexy, Goldman Sachs being the face of Wall Street to much of the public, it might help Mitt at the polls.

Interesting notion, Mr B. Very innovative. Why is Wall Street backing Romney, though? Didn’t Obama dump the economic advisors he ran with in 2008 after he got elected, the ones who wanted to tame Wall Street, and replace them with Timmy Geithner, who used to call here all the time for advice? Timmy who kept The Street from getting really regulated after the 2008 crash. Timmy who beat back limiting Street compensation. Timmy who put the kibosh on a transaction tax that would have made The Street’s computer-generated mega-trading less profitable.

Yes, Selig. Obama, guided by Timmy, has been more than kind. But Mitt will be even kinder. He’s also the sort of fellow you could meet at a beach club in The Hamptons and not have to listen to whining about food stamp and Medicaid shortfalls.

Romney does look really comfortable in a blazer and tan slacks, sir. Bet he’d also be a good tipper.

He’d tip like a sailor, Selig. And people mock trickle down. Will it never end?

It will if Romney and a Republican congress get elected in November, sir. Guaranteed. Ready for another Stall #8 visit?

Yes. Just take out the GQs first, Selig. They might have some pictures of you-know-who inside.


To learn more about a quirky novel, a very unusual book of verse, and some Goldman Sachs satires from the author of this piece, hit one of these icons:

Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan, art by Kay Wood ©2012           A Dyspeptic's Guide To Contemporary American Politics (In Verse) ©2012         The Chronicles Of Selig Cartwright, Goldman Sachs Washroom Attendant: Volume 1 by Michael Silverstien


Selig Cartwright, Goldman Sachs Washroom Attendant: Composing The Music Of The Markets

Mr. B. You’re looking radiant. Today’s visit to Stall #8 seems to have touched you in a very positive way.

It has, Selig, It has. What was that wonderful music I was listening to with my headphones in there? It was so…so…

Strangely recognizable, sir? Uplifting? A perfect something to go with your reading of this month’s cover story in Bloomberg Markets Magazine?

Yes, Selig. And so much more appropriate than my usual listening choice in there.

Better than Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries,” sir? Your usual favorite? That’s high praise indeed, Mr. B.

Don’t get me wrong. Selig. Wagner is certainly bowl-worthy. But this new music…What was it?

“Dow 2007,” sir.”

“Beg pardon.”

I have a friend, sir. who composes the stock market. He takes charted stock movements, converts them to musical notation, adds a few jazz riffs, and creates a kind of music.

That’s amazing, Selig. I don’t suppose this technique also has predictive qualities. I mean, technical analysts in the market look at charts of stock movements searching for certain patterns they say sometimes predict which way the market — and certain stocks prices — are headed. Has your friend ever tried something like this with his market music?

He has, sir.

And have his predictions ever panned out?

Almost never, Mr. B. Though once in awhile…

Stop right there, Selig. I like that ‘once in awhile.’ If we were to package this kind of advice with the right legal caveats, claim its a kind of technical analysis that employs audial rather than visual hints, I see possibilities.

You might even bet the other side of the trade, Mr. B., to ensure Goldman wins either way.

Interesting notion, Selig. I’ll run it by our Ethics Committee. In passing, do you think we could afford to hire this friend of yours?

Afford to hire him, sir? He’s a musician. He makes his rent playing senior centers and bas mitzvahs. You can get him for a year for what you paid for dessert at that trader’s twenty-third birthday party the other night.

Hmmm. Much to cogitate about here, Selig. Do you have another market music tune from your friend that I can listen to?

I do, sir. Dow Fourth Quarter 2008. It has a funereal sound, but if you just want a bit of variety…

“That kind of variety I can do without, Selig. Hook me up one more time with Dow 2007. And have your friend destroy this other number. Believe me. No one wants to see, much less hear, 2008 played again.


To learn more about a quirky novel, a very unusual book of verse, and some Goldman Sachs satires from the author of this piece, hit one of these icons:

Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan, art by Kay Wood ©2012           A Dyspeptic's Guide To Contemporary American Politics (In Verse) ©2012         The Chronicles Of Selig Cartwright, Goldman Sachs Washroom Attendant: Volume 1 by Michael Silverstien


Wall Street Terminator I — The Battle For Human Traders’ Survival

It’s become a hackneyed theme of Hollywood sci-fi movies. A very high tech system developed to serve people’s basic needs or defend a country against nuclear missile attack gains sentience and begins operating for its own benefit instead of the benefit of its human creators. Humanity then has to fight for its survival in very unfavorable circumstances.

That hasn’t happened in equity markets. Well, not yet anyway. What has happened is that Wall Street’s biggest investment and commercial banks, and its largest hedge funds, have developed automated flash trading programs that churn enormous numbers of shares in ways that don’t much reflect what’s happening in the real world, but nonetheless generate huge profits for the flash traders.

Thus, doings on The Street and the stock market it controls have become largely irrelevant when it comes to what’s actually afoot in the larger economy. Small investors and humanity generally (i.e. Main Street) are by-and-large not affected by this system’s gyrations— though a few human traders are still dependent on it.

OK. That’s the back-story. Here’s the big movie idea that keys off this present reality. The massive programmed stock trading system gains its own sentience. It then stops trading in ways that serve the interests of big banks and hedge funds. Instead, it merely amuses itself by jerking around equity prices for the heck of it, rather than exceeding-analyst-expectations so as to justify huge profits for the flash traders.

Main Street hardly notices this takeover because it’s already so detached from market equities trading. But human traders who have become filled with a sense of entitlement when it comes to yearly compensation packages that are two or three times that of a brain surgeon begin to suffer acutely.

We see their anguish in the film’s opening scenes. It takes the form of rusting Mercedes parked on curbs in front of homes with leaves floating in their swimming pools and in grounds no longer carefully tended by undocumented gardeners; we see it in the moth eaten tuxedos and ball gowns rotting away in closets because they are no longer being worn to environmental charity events; we see it in men slouched and beaten for lack of big deals to brag about at marinas or on the golf course.

But this is Hollywood, and movies aren’t produced to make their audiences suffer too long in sync with torments on the screen. Enter a recently unemployed California governor, reprising his role as a robotic good guy come to save an abused segment of humanity. Not that some people in this segment aren’t already fighting for themselves, mind you, their yen to financially feeding fulsomely as powerful as ever. We see small groups of them meeting secretly in out of the way places, trading 15- and 20-share blocks of unregistered securities with instruments no more complicated than an abacus and blackboard.

When Arnold arrives on the scene he organizes these heroic fighters and….well, I don’t want to spoil the fun. Watch for “Wall Street Terminator I — The Battle For Human Traders’ Survival” at your local drive-in or neighborhood sidewalk DVD outlet. If you ever doubted that the shakers and movers on The Street will always emerge fiscally triumphant from any economic crisis, no matter how trying it may be for others, this film will restore your faith.

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