Thursday, August 23, 2007


It is time to show you why I provide a handy link to the website of Robert A. G. Monks on this website.

Mr. Monks is an aristocrat that lives his life as if there were more to it than making piles of money into bigger piles of money. He has noticed there are these things all over the world called "people" and that they come in different shapes and sizes. He has also noticed that corporations are harming many of these "people" and thinks they ought to behave better. He has spent a great deal of his personal time advocating for shareholder rights and more accountability from corporations. He feels that corporations have a duty to be good citizens that many aren't fulfilling.

Incredibly, Mr. Monks has shown that transparently run corporations that obey laws are more likely profitable than their corrupt counterparts. This is surprising because stockholders are sometimes willing to excuse corruption in their own portfolios by assuming it will be to their financial gain. Perhaps Enron's collapse has failed to have enough impact as a teaching moment.

So, Mr. Monks would like to change that self-detrimental corporate greedy culture into something better run, more accountable, and subservient to a healthy role in society.

That's the sidewalk version of who he is. If you click the link for his site you can find out about the Cambridge/Harvard education, the boards he's served on, and the companies he is currently running.

But back to our sidewalk...

Mr. Monks was in the movie "The Corporation", which looked at what kind of person a corporation would be if it were a person (it is regarded as such by U.S. law). I won't spoil it for you by telling you the diagnosis, but I will give you a hint and tell you it coincides with something Kurt Vonnegut said about the administration of George W. Bush.

And...Mr. Monks has written a new book called:

Corpocracy: How CEOs and the Business Roundtable Hijacked the World's Greatest Wealth Machine -- And How to Get It Back

I am not familiar with the term corpocracy, but I imagine it is a modern oligarchy where a few wealthy corporations replace a few wealthy elites. An oligarchy is a regime that places money as the highest goal and that certainly sounds like a credible way to describe a corporation.

I hope that the leading democratic candidates plumb Mr. Monks for more than cash donations, since his greatest treasure may come in the form of policy advice. It is all well and good to talk about "Taking back America" (with exclamation points), but focused actions will be needed to turn rhetoric into results.

I look forward to this book and hope you appreciate the tip.

I am reminded of a quote from Teddy Roosevelt who said, "We propose to make it worth while for our business men to develop the most efficient business agencies, but we propose to make these business agencies do complete justice to our own people. We are against crooked business, big or little. We are in favor of honest business, big or little. We propose to penalize conduct and not size."

You can read the entire speech here: Progressive Covenant with the People.

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Foot Quotes

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

Charles Darwin