Stakeholder v Shareholder

Robert Reich brought out recently, a commentary about the one time stakeholder capitalism.  That is, where businesses were prepared to do business within their communities, and generally have a stake in their customers, employees, and neighbors.  The kind of stakeholder capitalism where the cost of doing business included, paying your employees good enough wages that they could support themselves through honest work.  And further, recognizing that your employees were likely to become your customers, when it came to the purchasing of the products initially manufactured.  I have discussed this before, in many ways and not just here on the blog.  So I will now ask this question, who also is the shareholder?  And that is not just the individual who buys or invests an interest in that particular company or corporation.

Until I left J.C. Penney, I was such a shareholder, investing in J.C. Penney stock with a percentage of my wages.  Only the corporate headquarters seemed to be of an opinion, and passed on down to store managers nation wide, that people like me could be hired but we weren’t deserving of good paying jobs.  My investment in J.C. Penney stock was supposed to be retirement money through a 401(k).  At the end of my employment there, I wasn’t given enough hours with wages to feed a rabbit, let alone decently pay bills or put food on the table.  Apparently, some investors and shareholders can be kicked to the curb if they are employees of said company.  So what is meant by investment in reality?  Seems to me, that it should be mutual.  The employee is making your money for you, then you should thank that employee by providing hours and wages.  Apparently not.  By actually employing that person with an understanding of:  an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.  Apparently not.  Instead, J.C. Penney, WalMart and others, create “the taker class” by refusing to uphold that particular maxim.  Which the Republicans can then condemn as a “burden on the rest of us.”  But who are “the rest of us?”

I wouldn’t know if the late “Government is the problem and not the solution” President Ronald Reagan was a man bought by the corporations.  But obviously his “supply side economics” was a spear head against not only a government actually having a stake in this society, but also, neither do businesses have to maintain such a stake.  Problem with that kind of thinking, while said corporate interests could pull up those stakes and disinvest in actual society, they still want their customers to come from that same society.  Just as the government itself still wants its taxpayers to come from that particular society.  It was the sort of disconnect that would take about 30 years, to completely wreak havoc on the American economy.  But it did in fact do so by the time George W. Bush entered office.  With an economic meltdown before he left office. So, you don’t want to employ an American workforce, or what American workforce you have, you want working as cheaply for you as possible.  Where can they go to spend that pathetic little paycheck that you insist on giving them?  The round figure of $60.00 a month from March to April, before I quite working for J.C. Penney altogether, wouldn’t have added to the Walton Family profits.  What it would have done was technically qualified me for welfare.  These were a destitute person’s wages, they were not the kinds of wages that would have supported my taking care of the bills for my new home, property taxes or rent.  With a store manager who was literally hoping that I was on, or soon would be on, some form of public assistance.  That’s right, public assistance.  Apparently, the store manager at the time, couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that public assistance comes from taxpayers.  In order to pay taxes, you must first be gainfully employed…  You must also be able to live in a state, where the political party would actually care about the people [you the store manager] insist on making as poor as possible.  Not here in Idaho.  Oh yes, I could quit working for J.C. Penney, but it was ill health brought on by tons of stress, not just because of the pathetic looking paycheck.  I also doubt that an illegal immigrant would have worked for $60.00 a month, as it wouldn’t have been worth his time or effort.

President Ronald Reagan made it quite clear to anyone caring to listen, that the government you vote for has no stake in you.  But the money that corporations invest in government, members of government will answer to that, because this is shareholder or investment money you see.  And the government as a business, needs to account only to its shareholders.  Like J.C. Penney or even WalMart, the Republicans in particular forget just who all their shareholders are.  Your vote is just as much of an investment into that same government as are your tax dollars.  Your public contributions on your form 1040 (as an example) are as much of an investment in political campaigns as are more private donations.  The problem with the “shareholder” concept in private enterprise or politics, is who you don’t recognize for that shareholder and therefore, whom you won’t account to at the end of the day.  So, the GOP once called this “federalism.”  There are others who say this is “fascism,” economic “fascism.”  I don’t think this kind of thinking deserves a label, period.  if you can’t see people until you see them as your putative customers.  Or if you can’t see people until you cajole them to vote for you in a political ad.  Then what do you see?  The day that pure greed needs a label or a political justification, is the day that I have to shake my head at this kind of truly twisted thinking.  No, it isn’t “fascism,” it is greed.  It isn’t “supply side economics,” it is greed.  It isn’t “we can’t be truly competitive until…” it is greed.  It was the consequences of greed that caused the American economy to go into a tailspin before Bush left office.  The SCOTUS “Citizens United” decision was the consequence of greed.  the Hobby Lobby “Religious exemption” claim, upheld by SCOTUS, was the consequence of greed.  If you are greedy, you have no stake in anything.  And if you have no stake in something, neither is it factual capitalism.  Capitalism as currently defined “in pursuit of profits” (I’ll agree, as a business owner myself and someone who also wishes to sell the books that I write), doesn’t take into consideration that “profits” don’t just come from investors, tax breaks, subsidies, and etc.  They also come from your employees being gainfully employed, who ultimately are customers of the products you manufacture. (I can only sell my farmers market wares or books to people who actually have money to spend.)  If you as the corporate CEO can’t see that, then this is just downright greed.  Call it what it is, just greed.  Capitalism has no future where just greed is concerned.  And greed is the most anti-capitalist threat to the business world, that in these modern times, they are likely to confront.  Not “socialism,” not government regulations, not taxes; greed.  That is the true bottom line.

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2 Responses to “Stakeholder v Shareholder”

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  2. hr staffing Says:

    Thanks for this, well written and great view point

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