Seize the means of financial production. You have nothing to lose but your trades
The GameStop affair has shown how blatantly the stock market is rigged. If you haven’t read about it, let’s say this rich motherfucker Melvin took a bet that GameStop stock was going to go down. If it went up, however, he promised to buy the shares, whatever they were trading at.
Some people on Reddit heard about this and made the shares go WAAAAY up, using platforms like Robinhood and Ameritrade. Then Melvin got bailed out by their daddy, Citadel. Daddy is the one that actually pays Robinhood and AmeriTrade. Immediately afterwards (coincidentally of course) these platforms simply made it impossible for plebes to buy, so daddy and all his friends could get their money out. It’s total bullshit, and now everyone can see.
Every time the rich start losing money the public has to pay. If the stock market crashes, the people pay. If it goes up they don’t get shit. If the stock market crashes people lose their jobs. If it soars… they also lose their jobs. It’s a casino, where the people are expected to stay at the slot-machines, drink their drinks, and never beat the house. Fuck that shit. If you bailed it out, you bought it. The people should own the house.
Every company should be at least 10% publicly owned, every board should be at least 33% worker elected, and the whole thing should form a public asset that pays everyone a Universal Basic Dividend. This is the only way a stock market can be connected to the actual economy. If it actually pays us, and if we actually have shareholder control. This is also the only way to tax wealth, which is otherwise slippery as an eel. Don’t regulate the stock marker. Nationalize it. Control it from inside board rooms and shareholder meetings, and take our fair share of the wealth.
I’ll let former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis explain:
[We need] a universal basic dividend. We need to face up to the fact that [corporate] profits are increasingly produced socially; a result of cooperative, collaborative large-scale projects, many of them financed by the state and state institutions and many of them generated surreptitiously by each one of us. Every time you search something on your Google engine, you’re contributing to the capital of Google. A part of their shares [would] be contributed to a public growth fund so that we can produce a universal basic dividend, distributed to members of society that have contributed — maybe inadvertently — to the production of that social capital.
At least at the initial stage, you can say to [these companies]: Every time you have an IPO or you raise new capital, you take, say, 10 percent of the shares and you deposit them in a public equity fund. (NYMag)
To this I would add that public boards would also have to be at least 30% worker elected (like it currently is in much of that communist hellscape Germany). Note that these would not be state-run companies, which are a nightmare. Instead the public would just hold shares, enforcing certain requirements (like capping CEO pay, preventing tax dodges) but not operating the companies. The public would have no interest in which company succeeded or failed, because we would own it all. Forget index funds, the public would own the whole damn book.
This would also form a giant asset that paid dividends. A sovereign wealth fund, where the people are king. Companies can rise and fall, but as long as the whole thing goes up (which it seems to) the public would get a Universal Basic Dividend. Then the stock market would actually reflect the economy, because the people would actually get paid.
This would also constitute, in effect, a wealth tax. Instead of chasing money around British money laundry islands, you’d have it at the source. Forget laws, which can be avoided or rewritten. You really need control of the shareholder agreements. You need seats on the board. That’s the only power wealth listens to. So take it.
If a company like Apple tries to offshore profits you wouldn’t need to call a toothless Senate hearing. You could eviscerate them at the next shareholder meeting. If a company wants to fire workers and increase CEO pay, the workers on the board would be like fuck no.
Hence you wouldn’t have to legislate and enforce things like share buybacks, offshoring profits, obscene CEO pay, etc. You could stop all these things from the only place these crooks give a shit about. The board room. The shareholder meeting. The stock market itself.
People talk about raising taxes on wealth, but this won’t work. What wealth? It’s not on the books, it’s not in the country, but it is in your politicians’ pockets. If you raise taxes, the rich just declare no taxable income. Jeff Bezos’s annual salary is only $81,000. The rest is a rats nest of tax-avoidance, impossible to unwind. So just take 10% of Amazon itself, and put warehouse workers on the board. Don’t ask Amazon to play fair. Take control and make them.
Capitalism is only designed to return value to shareholders, and that’s why the public needs to hold shares. Otherwise these companies are above the law, they’re above borders, they’re masters of the universe. You have to get into the shares and into the boardroom to have any control at all.
This also means you don’t have to raise taxes, which only hit the suckers without expensive tax lawyers. As Yanis says:
My proposal is a counterpoint to universal basic income. It’s very difficult in today’s environment to convince a blue-collar worker who’s working day and night and is very insecure about his job that you’re going to tax him to give money to someone to sit home and watch television. [Also it would] jeopardize the existing welfare state.
The idea of universal basic dividend is we’re saying “Forget taxes”; this has nothing to do with taxation. (NYMag)
If You Can’t Beat The House, Own The House
The fact is that you can’t game the system, as GameStop has showed. That’s why we must own the game. The best game in the casino is owning the fucking casino. Which we already do. We’ve let corporations grow too big for their britches and politicians become their bitches for too long. So seize the means of financial production. You have nothing to lose but your trades.
I said this last year, but I think we need to go further. And also do it.