The highest use of capital / by kevin murray

Most corporate executives, when asked the question as to what the highest use of their company's capital should be, would probably answer that their biggest responsibility is in increasing shareholder return, and therefore they need to concentrate on increasing quarterly profits for those shareholders, which will thereby increase the value and market capitalization of the company through a higher stock price.  That sort of answer actually makes a certain sort of sense, but consider this answer instead, "The highest use of capital is not to make more money, but to make money do more for the betterment of life."


The above quote, surprisingly, comes from a man considered to be as good as industrialist as any in the annals of American history, whose name is still well known and celebrated, even a century later, who didn't just talk the part, but lived the part, by the way he innovated his product line and became the man known to us as, Henry Ford.  What, Henry Ford did, was revolutionary, he took the car, which previously had primarily been manufactured for the rich and well positioned, and decided to make it his mission to build a car for the great multitude, knowing that the only way to reach the price point that would enable such a car to be affordable to them was to simplify the design using modern engineering, so therefore he had hire the best personnel that he could find, so as to make the car more reliable, which lead to moving assembly line, and by combining all of these things as reported by, "In 1920, Ford sold 1.25 million Model T’s. Compared to 1909, a price reduction of 63 percent," thereby indeed making his cars affordable for the great multitude.


While there are some entrepreneurs that do follow the Henry Ford model, they are vastly outnumbered by those that follow exactly the opposite sentiment, which is not that the highest use of capital is ultimately to be used for the service and the betterment of life for all Americans, but rather that the highest use of capital is ultimately to be used for the service and betterment of life for the very, very few Americans, most notably the upper executive management of these modern mega-corporations, as well as doing whatever can be done to keep the stock price up, by increasing profits by any means so necessary.


The objective of too many of today's executives is simply put, making as much money as they can and for that money to serve them, as well as to keep the shareholders happy by boosting the stock price, in which to achieve such is driven simply by the bottom line, so then, they find it relatively easy to lay off employees, cut costs, reduce R&D, off source jobs and materials to foreign countries so as to reduce costs further, create shell companies to avoid paying corporate taxes in full, negotiate tax subsidies from cities, lobby for  special privileges and immunities from governmental and regulatory agencies, and so on and so forth.


If, the highest usage of capital is to simply make money for those in the catbird seat, and not to serve mankind as a whole, or to better life as a whole, than the ultimate result is that a very few will have a lot more, and most will have in aggregate a lot less, so that the disparity between those that have and those that have not will widen so much, that this becomes a country of a small elite of the very, very rich, a middle class that is being squeezed in every which way, and a massive and permanent underclass that will not and cannot ever get ahead.