Monday, November 21, 2005

Haven't They Ever Heard of Microsoft Millionaires?

I'm getting to this a little late, but here is a good article that illuminates the war that the French are waging on the little bit of capitalism that remains in that country. The battleground here is the public sale of shares in Electricite de France. My favorite quote is this :

``It's a contradiction to be a shareholder and an employee."

That about sums up the attitude that will keep France's economy in a catatonic state (and this is not from some obscure middle manager, but from the employee representative on EdF's Board of Directors!).

Fortunately, this attitude doesn't prevail to any serious extent here in the US. Nearly 60% of American households have decided that it is a good thing to own a piece of something, rather than just sell their labor, and have invested in stock, either directly or indirectly. There is virtually no example of a US company that is a clear leader in its field or is highly respected worldwide that does not enfranchise its employees as owners by instituting stock ownership as a component of compensation. The laggards are nearly always the companies whose employees opt out of participating as owners and thus seek to extract the maximum benefit out of the company for themselves. Case in point, General Motors continues to circle the drain while Toyota continues its march to be the #1 carmaker in the world. The real contradiction is that it is impossible to excel in business without employees who think like owners.

The article does, however, offer some optimism in the fact that many of the employees will indeed purchase shares despite it being decidely uncool. It could have been the 20% discount they received or but I like to think that many EdF employees simply don't buy the primitive anti-capitalist rhetoric of some of their colleagues.


Post a Comment

<< Home