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!

Special Ops


With these guys on patrol all over Afghanistan, and not a few of them coming back to Dover in the middle of the night, it’s good to remember that to many people, green has nothing to do with eco-anything or money and the parts it fools fools it parts from, except within the idea of protecting the liberty inherent to those conceits.

Their official motto, De Oppresso Liber, to liberate the oppressed, is truly something to contemplate. It gets complicated when you begin to unravel all of the absolutes necessary to project force with the tender skin and bones of actual men across the globe. Belief goes beyond believing, and into the land reserved for religion and reverence. And craven beings that we are, we can’t help but corrupt the selflessness of the display with all manner of politics and nationalism, righteousness and relativism that surely crushes most missions to liberate the oppressed. It’s almost impossible, but our war-making sanction, which we mistake for nature, animates so many elements of public policy that we put ourselves at the mercy of our warrior impulses. Oppressed by these very tendencies, how might we be liberated?

So while I can revel in the fact that our mighty militaristic capabilities may indeed build some bridges out of the energy morass, we shouldn’t forget those young guys, bearded against regulation but for their own protection, walking around villages and laying wait in poppy fields – scared, nervous, confident, well-armed, lost, found, known, unsure, fit, tired and certain in the face of but one of our every-present, shadowy enemies. Go ahead and try harder than them to do something impossible.