News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Put Amendment H on hold, let Initiated Measure 9 pass

There should be a provision for euthanasia of corporations when they become too ill and feeble to perform their functions and when they are so diseased that they are a danger to their shareholders and customers. I say that because I have been a director and officer of a stock-held corporation whose ills are not curable and whose demise would be a benefit to humankind.

Corporations reach a point where they are the antithesis of free enterprise. People may rail against big government and its dangers, but we at least have the power of voting to change it. Recall the hearings and the reforms of the Internal Revenue Service a few years ago when it used police-state tactics to oppress and ruin taxpayers. Corporations reach a point where the motive to produce a better product or service in the marketplace is displaced by an all-consuming obsession with greed and power.

What the hell do you think is the fundamental cause of the economic plight we are presently in? Corporations need regulation. They need nuns to whack their greedy hands with rulers when they get caught trying to grope in the goody. They need proper householders to douse them with cold water when they begin humping each other on our national front lawn. This practice is also known as the merger and forced buyout. When corporations engage in such, they are not expanding and enhancing free enterprise. They are trying to restrict it and eliminate competition. That is why corporations are the worst bureaucracies that humankind can devise. They banish humankind's better angels and serve its worst demons.

I am not anti-business or anti-corporation. In fact, I am a wild advocate of free enterprise and the free market. I just acknowledge the tendency for some businesses and corporations to work for economic totalitarianism. They need rules to keep them in line with a free marketplace, and they need someone to keep an eye on them.

That brings us to proposed South Dakota Constitutional Amendment H. This amendment would repeal parts of the state Constitution that deal with the rules that govern how shareholders may cast their votes for corporate boards of directors. The repeal of this section would give state law the authority over such rules. There is a conflict between the Constitution which requires cumulative voting and a proposed state law that would give the corporate shareholders the choice of how they will cast their votes for their boards of directors. [See the ballot explanations here.]

There is really no issue at present that would affect corporations if the amendment is approved. It would remove a conflict between the Constition and the state law. The problem is in the revision of the business corporation act. It does not address other conflicts that restrict shareholders from determining the way their corporations should be governed.

I say vote no on Amendment H and do a more thorough job of addressing the conflicts and omissions in the corporate business act. Then bring up the Constitutional amendments.

As for Initiated Measure 9, I say vote yes. It gives state-level authority to prevent speculative manipulation of stocks and fraud against small investors. It requires full transactions of stock sales to be completed in three days. While there are federal laws that apply already, the application of them is spotty--as we have found in the business practices that have produced our current financial crisis.

We need rules to keep business fair and honest. And we need carefully crafted laws that facilitate honest business and protect investors and customers.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States