Monday Afternoon Quarterbacking…

Monday is my day off, so other than errands – like hauling 38 lbs of cat litter and patching the latest David “oops” in the wall – I tend to catch up on my reading of a more secular sort.

This little article is a list of easy subtle genius. Yes, Mark Cuban, the load-mouth owner of the Dallas Mavericks, walks around in t-shirts and projects an image of doofus. But really, if you managed to sell your 3rd rate internet start-up at the top of the bubble for a couple of billion, wouldn’t you do the same thing? They don’t call it “walk away (in place of a not safe for family word) money” for nothing. Every time I’ve seen an interview with him or read something by Mr. Cuban, I’ve gone wow! that man gets it in a profound way. Only in such a strange age could practical wisdom like this be labeled as outrageous and never have a chance of happening.

Cuban’s 4 proposals to Occupy Wall Street. (If they weren’t too busy just causing a mess they’d take up this list in its entirety as as their currently non-existent platform. By the way, the current president lacking anything else to run on might promise these things and it would be real hard to vote against.)
1. Make share ownership mean something at the governance level. (i.e. no more enriching CEOs “in the best interests of the shareholders”). This is the toughest and least practical, but also the place for “community-organizers” who could do a lot more here than in a park in NYC. You’d only need to do it at the margin, get everyone on the left to buy one share in say Exxon Mobil and vote that share for shareholder movements would put the fear of God into a bunch of companies.
2. Make all financial companies partnerships. [A long time ago in a galaxy far away (about 12 years) that used to be the case. This is the ultimate way to end too big to fail and playing with other people’s money at the same time. Partnerships risk their own money and are limited in leverage by what others will loan them. If they go down, like Cuban says, the former 1% quickly become part of the 99%. They just won’t get that large and they will focus on real opportunities instead of seeking rents gaming the system.]
3. Limit student loans to $2,000 per year. [Go look at the teaching load of the University of Texas System or the growth of “administration” and tell me where the ever increasing financial aid has gone. Government backed non-bankruptable student loans are not a help designed for students.]
4. A per-share tax on trading. [Very easy way to eliminate trading focused on only short term advantage and “gaming the system” instead of financing and building good companies.]

Basically the sum of those things would add accountability to the system and adjust marginal costs just enough to push people into creating stuff instead of trying to game the system for an outsized share of the same pie.