The New Activists
The new “activists” such as ValueAct seem to be making the corporate raiders of the 80’s look like lunch money bullies. The war-chests of these new hedge fund giants are mega-sized. They are busy buying stock from very successful companies like Microsoft and Sony. Unlike their predecessors, they appeal to the stock holders as the people who can do a better job of running the target company. Of course, the goal of the group is to get control of the company. What they do later is not necessarily what they say they will do. Greed and power go hand in hand.
What distresses me the most about people of this ilk is that they produce nothing and serve no one (not even, in most instances, the stock holders). Yet, they make it their business to try to control companies that are run by entrepreneurs or creative inventors. They remind me of the pirates of old; or, the gospel lord who “reaped where he did not sow”. ValueAct and others are global oligarchies that want to hold the world captive. They bring new meaning to capitalism. They are very scary.
Out of the Mouths of Babes
The following is a conversation that I over heard while serving snacks to a group of children (5 and 6 year olds) attending a vacation Bible school this summer:
Girl: My daddy says that if I stay up until midnight, I will turn into a pumpkin. Well, I stayed up until midnight; but, I did not turn into a pumpkin.
Boy: My daddy says the same thing. I stayed up until midnight; and, I did turn into a pumpkin — but then I turned back.
My reaction, watching the faces of the children, was to smile inwardly, marveling at the the serious sincerity of the participants. Neither child questioned the veracity of the other. In fact, the faces registered wonder, not skepticism.
I have repeated that conversation to several adults over the past few weeks. The story always gets at least two laughs. But, the adult comments on the conversation vary from something like, ” Children have such imaginations. When do they lose them?” to “Boy, they start that one upsmanship really early,don’t they”. Reflecting on the adult comments and reviewing the scene in my own mind, I think that the little girl was trying to make conversation on a topic that was mysterious because a respected adult stated something that contradicted reality, therefore, it was intriguing to a contemporary. The boy listened to what she had to say, then did his best to continue the conversation. This was all mixed with a bit of showmanship by both parties.
No matter their motivation, the two innocents provided many adults with a moment of joy and a moment of reflection. I always knew that vacation Bible school was good for something.