Today’s Campaign Update
(Because The Campaign Never Ends)
And you thought virtue signaling was just for c-list celebrities and politicians on Twitter. – In what is perhaps the biggest collective virtue signal in American history, the CEOs of 180 U.S. companies issued a “statement of purpose” yesterday in which they claim that corporations should prioritize social responsibility over profits.
Investors who actually want to see a return on their investment no doubt were somewhat surprised to know that these members of the Business Roundtable, led by J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, now have a higher priority than ensuring their companies’ profitability. If I were an employee at any of the companies – which include such giants as Amazon and American Airlines – I’d probably be updating my resume’ this morning in anticipation of the layoffs to come as my company spirals into irrelevance.
Ok, not really. Look, this entire thing is a massive charade, a cynical dodge issued by a bunch of CEOs who are under assault from left-wing activist “investor” groups. These CEOs don’t really mean any of this, they just believe that their virtue-signaling can placate the radical leftists. Which is an incredibly stupid thought process, to be honest, but it’s a mistake corporate leaders in the U.S. keep making over and over and over again.
For gosh sakes, the only reason for any corporation to be in business is to make a profit. Do they have an obligation to be socially responsible in many ways during the course of generating profits? Sure. That’s what thousands of the laws and regulations they must comply with every day are designed to effect.
Beyond adhering to the letter and spirit of those laws and regulations, does any corporation have any further obligation to society at large? Hell, no. To the extent these companies go over and above that baseline, with charitable foundations and involvement in community programs and the like, the smart ones are careful to ensure they do not do so in a way that destroys shareholder value. Because at the end of the day, without the buy-in of those shareholders, those corporations will cease to exist.
Businesses are not the government, nor are they charitable organizations, and we don’t want them to be. Because the moment a business tries to become something else and loses its focus on the reason why it is in business in the first place, that business is going to begin to fall apart.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is one of the signatories to this “statement.” If he were to truly follow through with prioritizing social responsibility over profits, those packages you enjoy reliably receiving the next day will soon take 3 days to arrive, then 7 days, and eventually they won’t show up at all.
Amazon is a business. It’s leadership must retain a hyper-focus on its business and on maintaining its profitability. The moment Bezos and his leadership team loses that focus will be the moment the business begins to fall apart.
The presence of American Airlines on this letter is frankly shocking, given the long-term, chronic profitability struggles it and all other U.S. airline companies have gone through for decades. American’s business is a far more vital one than Amazon’s: It’s job is to safely transport hundreds of thousands of passengers each and every day from one city to another in gigantic aluminum tubes with wings flying at 35,000 feet.
Trust me: We want American and all other airlines to keep a myopic focus on their business, not on supporting whatever politically correct cause is popular at any given time with 22 year-olds who spend 20 hours a day on Twitter. The moment any airline loses its focus on what really is Job One is the moment passengers’ lives become endangered.
But again, the good news here is that this entire thing is a massive charade, a meaningless gesture that is simply a lame attempt to placate a leftist mob. The Business Roundtable leaders are making the same mistake made by hundreds of celebrities who make some non-politically correct remark in thinking that they can placate the mob by essentially apologizing to it.
It won’t work. Gestures like this only legitimize the mob and end up emboldening them. Can’t wait to see what politically-correct move these CEOs make next year, after their companies find themselves under even more intense assault by the mob they emboldened yesterday.
Good luck with all that, Jamie and Jeff.
That is all.
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