Saturday, September 26, 2015

Watching the Watchers: The Wall Street Journal Invokes the Specter of Marx

"[Lack of influence by shareholders] is perhaps most evident in the preposterous salaries paid, particularly in the U.S. and Britain, to top executives of public companies. If the owners of these companies truly exercised authority over what is theirs, this wouldn’t happen. If these enterprises had grown over the last 20 years at the same rate as pay for the men who run them (it usually still is men), no one would be talking of a crisis of capitalism." 
"But Marx did have an insight about the disproportionate power of the ownership of capital. The owner of capital decides where money goes, whereas the people who sell only their labor lack that power. This makes it hard for society to be shaped in their interests. In recent years, that disproportion has reached destructive levels, so if we don’t want to be a Marxist society, we need to put it right."
–Charles Moore, "The Middle-Class Squeeze", The Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2015

At this point, I really should have had something prepared to look into some of the do-your-own-thing movements going around. Say something about the rise of podcasting in comedy, Kickstarter/Patreon, the pros and cons of Silicon Valley-style startup culture, etc. And then contrast that with restrictive health care situations and other holes in the fabric of U.S. business. But I didn't do that. Maybe some other time.

Meanwhile, go listen to the Planet Money episode about Netflix's hiring and firing practices. Whether you think their approach is brilliant or horrifying may tell you something about which side you will be on should the specter of Marx rear its head in our "modern" times.

If this post was a youtube video, I would end it by asking: Capitalism, are we doing it wrong? If so how do we fix it?

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