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“The Divine Right of Capital” by Marjorie Kelly.

She writes that we accept the premise that stockholders are the “owners” of corporations the same way that people once accepted that kings ruled by divine right. Our system of government has progressed toward democracy, but some of our basic economic notions are antiquated and feudal. In fact it’s only the initial stock offerings and the rare subsequent sales of stock by a corporation that fuel it with cash. The vast majority of stock sales are just stock passing between the hands of speculators and have nothing to do with “investing” in the corporation.

And yet those “investors” (speculators) lay claim to an endless stream of payments off the top, because they are supposedly the only legitimate “owners.” Meanwhile, employees, whose daily innovation and labor truly create wealth for the company, are regarded as a “cost” that, like all costs, is to be minimized.

Thus layoffs, plant closings, corporate raiders, and “externalizing” costs: letting the government or the community pay as many of the costs of doing business – e.g., cleaning up pollution, building needed infrastructure, paying for employee’s healthcare – as possible, while reaping as much from the government and community as possible – using public lands to mine minerals, log forests, and graze livestock for miniscule token payments, demanding government incentives to build a new plant in the state or community, lobbying for bailouts, etc.).

Book preview:

nicestuff 7 Oct 11
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Those investors are just over 50% of the population in the US. Many people have managed pensions and their banks may also invest in stocks and shares.
In Australia, where compulsory pensions have been around some time, there are ethical options. The UK are currently catching up.
I don’t know what the choices are like in other Countries, or if pensions are compulsory, but knowing what/ who you’re supporting is important. It’s not just faceless minorities who hold stock.

About half of Kelly's book discusses possible evolution to broaden ownership and responsibility to the community. She is not anti-capitalism so much as pro-democratization.

@nicestuff sounds interesting, but it frustrates me that most people don’t seem to use the power that they currently have responsibly, expecting them to do a better job if they gain more responsibility is a bit of a pipe dream it seems. Many individual citizens, like big business, only seem to care about saving money: which is in effect bad value for money when the true price is worse worker’s rights; poorer environment; eroded personal freedoms, (e.g. by food labelling being reduced); worse animal welfare.
Everyone wants to blame someone else, but everyone is responsible and good legislation is the only way that we can ensure these things change.
I’m glad to book’s been written, but unless everyone gains insight into their personal power and the responsibilities that it holds, I don’t see redistribution of power as an answer, just a nice ideal.

@girlwithsmiles Good point. I think the political and economic system rewards certain behaviors and doesn't reward others. It rewards getting rich. It doesn't reward preserving ecosystems. Pro sports players get rich. Public school teachers struggle. We need a new paradigm.

@nicestuff exactly! It’s shifting, but we need more people on board, from all walks of life. Blaming and deriding each other is just holding us back I fear. But obviously we need leaders on board, as well as companies and normal consumers- who don’t seem to understand how important they are.


Yes, socialize the risk, privatize the profit, this is Capitalism's goal.


Shove the Corporate World . WORK FOR YOURSELF .

GEGR Level 7 Oct 11, 2020

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