Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

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Sunday 7 August 2011

Oakeshott's answer.

On the BBC's Andrew Marr programme, Lord Oakeshott, a Liberal peer, told the watching audience that last Friday he'd taken advantage of the fall in the stock market to buy shares for himeself and his family. He seemed to take delight in making this statement.
Does he not realise that this attitude is part of the problem. For the shares to fall, someone has to lose money, perhaps catastrophically so. Not only single people but also pension funds. He seems to delight in taking advantage of people's distress by trying to make a profit without doing a stroke of work. Does Lord Oakeshott feel proud of this? He must do since he's been in the trade of UNEARNED income for thirty years. He should be ashamed.

When people buy shares, they become part owners of a company. Not that this gives them any say in the running of the company, but this is another issue. The motive for buying shares should be solely to earn money paid as dividends from the profits the company makes. This is to my mind ethical. To buy shares with the purpose of making money quickly by short term capital gains is playing with the livelihoods of many people including those who actually work for the company. Companies must be forced to pay dividends if they make sufficient profit, rather than withold them in the hope of raising the share price. Not only is this open to malpractice, it gives rise to a whole industry more akin to that of gambling. This should not be the basis of how we build industry and businesses that endure.

Company executives should be more accountable to smaller shareholders. Over time they form a cosy relationship with the non-executive remuneration directors and major shareholders such as fund managers so that there is a risk the Company's are eventually run as private fiefdoms of the very few at the top.
Why do Company's feel the need to keep on growing? There should be no compulsion for the Company to grow other than organically from increased sales of their core products. To keep share prices rising, that's why! Tesco's is a good case in point. They were a grocer. Why did they feel the need to diversify to selling TVs, insurance etc? To maintain and increase the share price that's why. They constantly need to add new products to satisfy the endless greed of people who want to make UNEARNED money regardless of the people made redundant as the local butchers and other tradespeople are put out of business.

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