Thursday, March 26, 2015

Stockholders Are Also Owners

Wal-Mart fights bid to curb gun sales

The dispute concerns Wal-Mart’s sales of assault rifles with high-capacity magazines. New York’s Trinity Wall Street church wants shareholders to vote on a resolution calling on Wal-Mart’s board to review management decisions to sell the weapons, as well as other products that could harm the company’s reputation.

A district court sided with Trinity in November and said that Wal-Mart has to include the proposal on the corporate ballots it will send out this spring. Wal-Mart appealed, arguing that the shareholder resolution meddles in regular business decisions and is at odds with decades of guidance from the Securities and Exchange Commission that such affairs are off limits.

I strongly suspect this proposal has little chance of success. If for no other reason than the Walton family owns about 50% of the company stock. This is just some more feel good BS from part of the Christian Collectivist contingent. Nevertheless, they absolutely have the right to try and influence Wal-Mart policies.

When I buy stock in a corporation I become a part owner. As such, I have the right to question how that corporation is run. I never bother because I only own a few hundred shares in anything nor do I have much motivation as a SJW. As long as there are no live boys or dead girls involved, I pretty much ignore corporate behavior as long as the stock makes me money. Still, being a part owner means I have the right to ask other part owners to ally with me to effect a change in policy. Over the years, boards, legislatures and regulatory bureaucracies have tried to limit stockholder influence but that does not change the immutable fact that a stockholder owns a piece of the company.

My advice to Wal-Mart is: If you don't want the owners -- aka stockholders -- of your company trying to tell you what to do then buy back all the stock and become a private company again. Otherwise, suck it up and, for god's sake, stop whining to the government.

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