Who Hijacked Our Country

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Shareholders: Your Vote DOES NOT COUNT

It’s becoming more and more common for investors to purchase stocks in controversial corporations so they can have a voice in those companies’ decisions. (And make a profit at the same time.) This is a good thing, right?

Well, in theory anyway.

Just when you think you've heard every corporate sleaze story, along comes another one.

Take Massey Energy (please!). They had a recent shareholder vote on whether the company should set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There were 25.1 million votes in favor, and 22.2 million votes against. All right! It passed! Stockholders (i.e. the owners) of one of the world’s most cutthroat companies have voted to change that company’s business practices. The system worked!

Well, except for one minor teensy little detail. There were 20.9 million Massey shareholders who didn’t vote. And those non-votes counted. 20.9 million abstainers, plus 22.2 million No votes — hee hee hee, those 25.1 million Yes votes were grossly outnumbered. You lose! Tough luck, treehuggers. Nice try though.

Plum Creek — a Seattle-based timber company — is another company that uses this same “counting” method for tallying shareholder votes.

A more honest CEO said: “The process is tilted in favor of management, yet they still feel the need to lean with their elbow on the scale — it's unbecoming.”

Unbecoming; yup, that it is. I would’ve picked a little harsher term.

Or maybe we could switch to this counting method in political elections. This November, the tens of millions of Americans who don’t vote, PLUS everyone who votes in favor of the Democratic incumbent, will be added up against the Republican votes.

Come to think of it…

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Blogger Lew Scannon said...

I say if more people don't vote than those who do, both parties have to call it quits and offer us up some real choices.

July 6, 2010 at 6:35 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

How about a law that requires all such corporate votes, at least by ones above a certain size, must be administrated by an independent third party? And how about that law saying the independent third party will be licensed to fill that function, and chosen on a random basis, by the federal government, using rules that count votes actually cast and only votes actually cast?

July 6, 2010 at 10:53 PM  
Anonymous Tim said...

You guys are on to something,perhaps this might be considered;
Corporate universal law where all corporations of a certain size must follow suite. All the by-laws must read about the same. No hidden agendas. CEOs should have to be accountable and either fines and jail time applied. Yes I know another Gov. run thing but how they doing on their own...
Who do they think they are Walmart..

July 7, 2010 at 2:07 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lew: That sounds like an excellent plan.

SW: I think that's exactly what we need to do. The way it is now, every large company has its own personal Diebold to "count" the votes.

Tim: Corporate accountability, fines and jail time for violators -- works for me.

July 7, 2010 at 11:10 AM  
Anonymous Jess said...

Ah we don't need that trickery this fall voting wise. The repubs are going to do their own selves in. People like Angle, who are going to court saying Harry Reid cannot use her words that she said. Maybe she can get Oily Taint to help with the court case filings, since she has nothing to do right now. It just gets better and better for the dems, not because of them but in spite of them. Now we have Rush saying the recession is some kind of reparation and Oprah Winfrey only made it because she is black. Oh yeah, because we all know how easy it was for black people don't we?

July 7, 2010 at 3:22 PM  
Blogger jadedj said...

For a minute there, I thought you were describing the 2000 election.

July 7, 2010 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Jess: I hope you're right. I saw an article yesterday saying that Sharron Angle is ahead of Harry Reid. That's not encouraging at all; she's so far out there in tinfoilhat land, she makes Michele Bachmann look sane.

I do hope the Republicans will dig their own political graves this November, but we need a certain percentage of intelligent voters for that to happen.

jadedj: LOL. The similarities are overwhelming.

July 7, 2010 at 4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahh the Ultimate example of the Market gone bad. This was supposed to be the best reason for Government to stay out of Business, because the shareholders decide and keep the executives honest.

In your dreams

I've been reading in the back pages of the business section of the passing of little known bills from the Republican party in command that gave individual shareholders less and less vote power, and it looks like it finally came to fruition.


July 8, 2010 at 12:23 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: Yup, that's a nice theory. Shareholders decide and keep the executives honest. If only.

July 8, 2010 at 12:26 PM  

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