The American Shareholder

I’m sure most of you remember the classic movie “Wall Street”, starring Michael Douglas as the “evil” Gordon Gekko. His famous quote “greed is good” rattled the cage of those who believe that corporations are the root cause of all that ails this country (YouTube). Say what you will about Mr. Gekko and his “type”, but we would still be living in straw huts and serving a “King” without them. Or maybe that’s what the new “ruling class” really wants…

America offers more opportunity to “invest” in success (at least it did), than any other nation on earth. WHY do you think we have MILLIONS of illegal immigrants streaming across our unprotected boarders? WHY do you think Senator Kennedy was treated here in the U.S. for his brain tumor (The Caucus blog — NYT), and didn’t have his staff rush him up to Canada? WHY do you think our standard of living, even for those “disenfranchised” is far above the rest of the world? It has nothing to do with President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and her congress (Fox News), government owned banks or bills with thousands of unread pages. It’s because we have LIBERTY with LIMITED government, and unlimited opportunity to achieve. Not based on race, political affiliation, or government intervention, but on sheer desire, effort, God given creativity, and the FREEDOM to pursue dreams…

Yet as jobless claims continue to rise and July retail sales failed to reflect the multi-billion dollar “stimulus” scam (RealClearPolitics) promised to “save us from Armageddon”, our country continues to stagger through a recession. Blame it on Bush, blame it on healthcare, and blame it on Iraq, Afghanistan, or the “unregulated WALL STREET CEO’s”. Right now, it matters not who is to blame, as we are all “shareholders” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shareholder of this faltering republic. As with any “publicly” held corporation, the shareholders must be heard.

I’ve worked for several publicly traded international medical device companies, and have attended many a company shareholders meeting. One thing is certain; whoever is in charge most certainly LISTENS to their “constituents”. It may often get heated, especially when the stock is falling, or sales are slow. Policy and procedure are questioned and analyzed. That’s just expected and par for the course in business, and how organizations grow and survive. It’s not just about that guy (or girl) at the top; it comes from the “bottom up”. The shareholders, the board of directors, the CUSTOMERS, are ALL a part of the “process”. At least in good companies, companies that make it long term, companies that understand it’s not about ramming products or “services” down customers’ throats. An age-old adage, “the customer is always right”, rings true for those blue chip corporations. Are we the people, not “customers”…?

So just for arguments sake, let’s compare the federal government and how it operates, with a large publicly traded corporation. At least as far as the accountability a company has to its shareholders. Can you imagine if a company official, a V.P., C.E.O., hell even a sales rep, responded to a question from a “shareholder” like Sheila Jackson Lee did at a recent town hall meeting (PoliticsDaily.Com). If Gordon Gekko, while attempting a “hostile takeover” of another company, speaking to those with a vested interest in the outcome, suddenly dismissed the audience and began speaking into his cell phone (if they had them back then), can you imagine the outrage? What if a CEO called all the shareholders “mobs” and implied they were “acting stupidly” when they protested a company agenda? That C.E.O. would be fired, if not on the spot very soon. Unless of course your name is Jeffrey Immelt, C.E.O. of G.E., who has tanked the stock but seems to be bullet proof (Birmingham Examiner —AL) for some reason…

We have had anti-war protestors screaming “blood for oil” for the entire Bush administration,Code Pink acting like a “mob” (PoliticsDaily.Com) at multiple political events. Yet while “CEO” Obama doubles the troops in Afghanistan (Bloomberg), quadruples the national debt, and pushes nationalization of yet another American institution, silence is the only response. Silence from everyone other than those “shareholders” buying the stock, and wondering where the hell their “investment” has gone.

Gordon Gekko may have been demonized in the movie, and yes, he was “the bad guy”. But as we compare the operations of one very large organization to another (the federal government), who is really the villain? The “greedy” corporate raider or the controlling, arrogant, career politician…only your vote will decide…