01 October 2007

Corporate America Defends Soviet Ballots

A lengthy defense by lawyers on behalf of big corporations in the United States explains why they believe that the process by which the directors of large publicly held companies should be shams similar to Soviet style elections.

Big business also don't seem to understand the voting public they are dealing with in elections for the board of directors of publicly held corporations. A majority in interest of most publicly held companies is held by large institutional investors (like retirement fund managers, insurance company investment officers and mutual fund managers) and well counseled millionaires. The have a strong financial interest in voting the right way. The more you own, the more votes you get. Most shares in public corporations are owned or managed by people more fiscally conservative, on average, than a GOP caucus purged of Evangelical Christian activists. If CEOs and prospective board members cower at an electorate like that one, then they deserve to be thrown out of their offices.

The people making the argument for shareholder democracy are people pushing to make businesses socially responsible. But, they are doomed to fail on the merits almost every time. The real fights will be over executive compensation and accountability for poorly performing management teams.

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