Lying Media Bastards

December 11, 2005

Dollar Democracy

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One form of progressive activism that has come to prominence in the past decade has been “shareholder activism”, where people concerned with the practices of a certain corporation buy shares of stock in that company so that they can try to ger resolutions passed by fellow shareholders to curtail such practices. It’s legal, it works within the system to hopefully establish long-term change (although it’s not always polite. I think it often ends up with arguments, rude dismissals, loud voices, and CEOs yelling “guards, seize them!”).

Well, it looks like even this form of “change the system from within” activism is being chopped away (although I don’t know how effective it was in the first place).

Dave Sirota references a recent Financial Times article (which, sadly, you can’t read without a subscription), but gives us this quote:

U.S. companies, alarmed by the number of activist investors on the prowl, are hiring surveillance firms to find out who their shareholders are and which ones might cause trouble.

Legally, stockholders own corporations. If there are 100 shares and 100 shareholders, then each shareholder is 1/100th owner of that corporation. Shareholders allegedly make decisions about their company in votes where each share owned is equal to one ballot. Now apparently the CEOs– employees of the shareholders– are looking for ways to undermine some of the shareholders. But I suppose that’s just natural evolution: if the majority of the shareholders want profits uber alles, and a few other shareholders are getting in the way of that, then the corporate board could see it as part of their job to “eliminate” that thorny minority.

Unfortunately, without the rest of that article, I can’t tell what sort of actions (if any) that these corporate boards are taking once identifying their “troublemakers.”

“Sure we’re criminals. We’ve always been criminals. We have to be criminals.”
- Batman, “The Dark Knight Returns”

Posted by Jake on December 11, 2005 10:12 am

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