Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Re: First Amendment Schools

From: Amanda Phillips <aphillips_at_law.harvard.edu>
Date: Thu Nov 16 16:54:00 2006

You ignored the key issue in private corporations shareholder voting: consent. I
said I wouldn't bore everyone with corporate governance issues, and so I won't.
The point is that if you don't like the NY Times shareholder voting structure,
then you simply do not have to buy any shares. Those who do VOLUNTARILY
purchase shares obviously see some value in it that you don't.

Whatever you say about the NY Times shareholder voting rules, it has no relation
to American democracy. It's only connection with Sudbury democratic schools is
that it is based on voluntary consent.

Amanda

Quoting Stuartwwms_at_aol.com:

> Hi,
>
> This is Stuart. Harlan challenged my assertion that in America, people with
> power or money have far more voting power than those who do not. Please
> pardon
> the tangential relationship of what follows to the Sudbury model. Here are a
> few examples that support my claim:
>
> 1. About 90% of the districts for Congressional seats are considered "safe
> seats" for the incumbents. While the money and power advantages inherent to
> incumbency are part of the explanation, another key reason is gerrymandering.
> A
> voter in a gerrymandered district is much less likely to make a difference
> than
> a voter in a non-gerrymandered district. In effect, legislators who
> gerrymander transfer power from voters to themselves.
>
> 2. In the crucial swing states or districts, the voters' wishes can be
> thwarted by state officials. In 2000 in Florida, partisan state officials
> worked
> tirelessly to block recounts; a month later, the Supreme Court (by a 5-4
> majority
> on the critical question) did the same thing, in part because the recounts
> would take a week and it was "too late." Most experts believe that a recount
> would have changed the results of the national election. In the deciding
> state of
> Ohio in 2004, many districts likely to support Kerry had problems with their
> voting machines, resulting in 2-3 hour lines and lower voter turnout. In
> addition, Robert Kennedy Jr. has described numerous instances of suspected
> tampering with electronic voting machines, which had no paper trails to
> enable
> reported results to be audited.
>
> 3. Politics as practiced in Washington, and often at the state and local
> levels as well, is largely about money and power. Campaign contributions get
> more
> than just "access." Many members of Congress are highly focused on gathering
> contributions from the day they are elected. As for local politics: when I
> lived in Santa Clara, CA, the company that had the local garbage monopoly
> donated
> enough money in the City Council election to swing the election in favor of
> its supporters. I used to be a Wall Street analyst, and I learned that a high
> percentage of the decisions to award local cable television and garbage
> monopolies were corrupt. These companies were born in "original sin."
>
> In sum, gerrymandering renders many votes largely impotent. In the contests
> that do matter, partisan or corrupt officials may determine the results. And
> when the winners take office, they are expected to raise large sums of money,
> making them beholden to their financial backers. So, if you live in a
> gerrymandered district, vote on voting machines lacking paper trails and
> overseen by
> partisan officials, or have representatives whose decisions are influenced or
> dictated by money or power, then I would say your vote is relatively
> unimportant.
> You get 1 vote (which I still think you should exercise, and which is a lot
> better than O votes!) , while the folks with garbage or drug companies (to
> name
> two examples) get 100 votes.
>
> Separately, someone on this list thought I was unfair in casting aspersion on
> The New York Times' two-class share structure, in which certain shares hold
> disproportionate voting power. Here is why I don't like dual-class voting
> structures. In the academic literature on corporate governance, it is well
> known
> that two of the key "agency" problems afflicting corporations are:
>
> 1. The ability of a company's largest shareholder to use its leverage to
> extract disproportionate value from the corporation, for example by making
> favorable deals with management concerning purchases or sales of assets.
> (This
> problem is more prevalent outside the US, though it is not unknown here.)
> 2. The ability of corporate management to extract disproportionate value from
> the corporation. Often this takes the form of excessive compensation or by
> managers purchasing part of the company in sweetheart, no-auction deals.
>
> Dual class share structures result in both of these problems. Yes, there may
> be "valid" reasons for a dual-class structure, but I'm sure there are equally
> valid reasons why China and Saudi Arabia are governed the way they are. A
> dual class structure permanently entrenches some relatively small group,
> which of
> course uses its power to benefit itself disproportionately. The basic idea
> behind democracy is that it disperses power.
>
> In a message dated 11/13/06 7:48:37 PM, Stuartwwms_at_aol.com writes:
>
> That is pretty much the way American democracy works, too: people with power
> and/or money get 100 votes, those who lack them get 1.
>
>
>
> Now Stuart, how does that work. I challenge you to teach us or withdraw
> your assertion.
>
> Harlan
>
Received on Thu Nov 16 2006 - 16:53:46 EST

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