The new Feather-Knocker-Over-er, from Ronco!

Well knock us over with a…

The “shareholder comes first” has for years been the mantra of the Business Roundtable, a group that represents the most powerful CEOs in America and their thinking.

The group’s new principles on the role of a corporation released Monday imply a foundational shift, putting shareholders on more equal footing with others who have an interest in a corporation to some degree — including workers, suppliers, customers and, essentially, society at large.

“We know that many Americans are struggling. Too often hard work is not rewarded, and not enough is being done for workers to adjust to the rapid pace of change in the economy. If companies fail to recognize that the success of our system is dependent on inclusive long-term growth, many will raise legitimate questions about the role of large employers in our society,” the statement reads.

First, let’s think about presenting this as “news” ( it grows increasingly difficult to choose which word gets ironi-quoted)? Not just news but it was above the fold – meat space term for the top story on the site, as though the NYT (WAPO and others) wanted to make sure it was very definitely seen and just as likely unread, per their habits. Great placement! Either it’s meant for the shallow consumption of millions or the verification by the 65 to 85 people who mean the most to them. Theories welcome.

Unusually, I’m not a pitchfork sharpener. But let’s at least be a little skeptical about this gambit. CEO’s are now worried about this? I wonder why? Hong Kong, maybe. Hmmm, let’s think about that, broaden the context of what they’re saying because this may well be being introduced to lead exactly nowhere, as in See, We Talked About That Once. Kind of like a window of purses at Barney’s. Isn’t that nice?

But Hong Kong – complicated (why?). Scary (for whom?). 2047, huh. Interesting. Those people got born and are here now. But look over here – robot cars! Greenland?! What a goob!

Play Again?

Now it’s a wonder how much we separate crazy weather occurrences from the possible effects of global warming; instead of superstitious, we might be becoming super-suspicious that these things are or are not related, depending on your exposure to that venerable Upton Sinclair aphorism.

In that spirit, though perhaps not, a bit of Dostoevsky’s The Gambler. By coincidence, though perhaps not, chapter 11:

THE chair, with the old lady beaming in it, was wheeled away
towards the doors at the further end of the salon, while our
party hastened to crowd around her, and to offer her their
congratulations. In fact, eccentric as was her conduct, it was
also overshadowed by her triumph; with the result that the
General no longer feared to be publicly compromised by being
seen with such a strange woman, but, smiling in a condescending,
cheerfully familiar way, as though he were soothing a child, he
offered his greetings to the old lady. At the same time, both he
and the rest of the spectators were visibly impressed.
Everywhere people kept pointing to the Grandmother, and talking
about her. Many people even walked beside her chair, in order to
view her the better while, at a little distance, Astley was
carrying on a conversation on the subject with two English
acquaintances of his. De Griers was simply overflowing with
smiles and compliments, and a number of fine ladies were staring
at the Grandmother as though she had been something curious.

“Quelle victoire!” exclaimed De Griers.

“Mais, Madame, c’etait du feu!” added Mlle. Blanche with an
elusive smile.

“Yes, I have won twelve thousand florins,” replied the old
lady. “And then there is all this gold. With it the total ought
to come to nearly thirteen thousand. How much is that in Russian
money? Six thousand roubles, I think?”

However, I calculated that the sum would exceed seven thousand
roubles–or, at the present rate of exchange, even eight

“Eight thousand roubles! What a splendid thing! And to think of
you simpletons sitting there and doing nothing! Potapitch!
Martha! See what I have won!”

“How DID you do it, Madame?” Martha exclaimed ecstatically.
“Eight thousand roubles!”

“And I am going to give you fifty gulden apiece. There they

Potapitch and Martha rushed towards her to kiss her hand.

“And to each bearer also I will give a ten-gulden piece. Let
them have it out of the gold, Alexis Ivanovitch. But why is this
footman bowing to me, and that other man as well? Are they
congratulating me? Well, let them have ten gulden apiece.”

“Madame la princesse–Un pauvre expatrie–Malheur continuel–Les
princes russes sont si genereux!” said a man who for some time
past had been hanging around the old lady’s chair–a personage
who, dressed in a shabby frockcoat and coloured waistcoat, kept
taking off his cap, and smiling pathetically.

The rest at the link.

Special holiday bonus, because I’m learning to love all over again: Roy on Why This Decade Sucked.