In the Toronto Star the other day were two news items, both about business in Canada and how things are progressing.
((As often happens, an ordinary observer might wonder if the writers in this publication ever read each other. (I have the same problem with Nature: the issue with the article on Bill Gates and artemisenin (possible cure for malaria) synthesis in yeast, was in the same issue as an article detailing the biosynthetic pathways of Plasmodium falciparum (key malaria parasite species in Africa) which pointed out that it has several weaknesses / dependencies unlike anything in mammals.))
In this case, the two articles were in contrast as follows:
- Business has in Ontario been given tax breaks on the promise of job creation, and has instead either sat on that cash, or increased dividends. Dividend payouts have gone, in some cases, from 30% to 50% of net income.
- Companies in Ontario are noticing the impact of “activist shareholders”. These “individuals” are causing changes in the boards of directors, executives, and policies of these publicly held companies.
It is not too hard to put these two together. Here’s my cynical synthesis.
Activist shareholders are generally corporations controlled by rich individuals. These individuals alter the policies of corporations to make themselves richer individuals. They also lobby the provincial (and federal) government to lower their corporations’ taxes. They promise to create jobs, but instead find cheaper ways to source their inputs.
I quiver every time I read that we are not “productive” enough. Productivity is a synonym for unneeded labour. It means, jobs get lost.
Eventually all our wealth will be in the hands of activist shareholders. All our jobs will be done by robots or labourers in distant countries.
I think perhaps businesses should get some form of incentive based on salaries paid. And this should exclude all executive salaries, bonuses, and car allowances.
Before there is no society for them to live in, these rich activists should get a life. And they should allow their community’s citizens to live one. A decent life, that is.