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Stamping Contraption Brings Attention to Cause

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The Stamp Machine at Mass MoCA; left, stamps you can mark your own bills with.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Finding a cause at Solid Sound Festival isn't hard.

Scattered amongst the music are biodegradable cardboard water boxes, booths to remind you to register to vote and write your congressman, containers for recylcing and table urging the return of passenger rail to New York.

The most unusual — dare we say magical — is the Rube Goldberg-like money stamping machine in the courtyard at Mass MoCA, accessible to anyone.

The brainchild of Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry fame, the machine stamps a message on any bill you put in it: "Stamp money out of politics" or "The system isn't broken it's fixed."

The target of the Stamp Mobile is the 2010 Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court that opened the floodgates to corporate and other election donations.

"The whole point is getting the message out," said Aaron Rubin of New York, who has been driving the contraption around since heading north from Miami in February. "You stamp the bill but you have to spend it."

One bill will circulate through 850 hands in about 2 1/2 years, said Rubin. "If people stamped 100 bills, that's 850,000 people."

The Stamp Machine takes the bill on a ride through hoops and loops — setting off a presumed politician to spew money from his mouth — before it finally arrives at the actual stamp. If you don't want to wait that long, you can buy your own stamp to take home at what Rubin says is cost, $10. More than 7,500 have been sold.

Rubin said the tide is turning. More than a dozen states have taken a stand against Citizens United and he's sure that New Hampshire will be next. In the meantime, he's off to Union Station in New York for a press rollout, then western Michigan, back to Vermont and then off to the West Coast.

MSNBC was scheduled to do an interview with Cohen (who's enjoying Solid Sound this weekend) on Sunday morning at MoCA for the "The Ed Show."

"We're going to keep doing it until works ... and it will work," Rubin said.

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Solid Sound Festival curated by Wilco at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art runs Friday through Sunday, June 26-28.

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