We already know that in many situations when actors only act in their own self interest it can often leave everybody worse off. Yet the idea of simply being laser focused on “maximizing shareholder value” is clung to like a religion.
And that’s simply because it’s the easiest way to be precise about the rules. When we make it fuzzy it makes us all uncomfortable. Reality is way more nuanced than we like. We keep chasing the ultimate answer, the golden rule, the essential nugget that can somehow free us from this discomfort of not knowing. There’s peace in simplicity. I love a hammer while I get a little stressed by a multi-tool.
But a hammer can’t do everything I need. I need the right tool for the right task and many tasks require several tools together.
Here’s a great post that goes into some of the unexpected consequences of this mindset. It’s a little too dramatic but it makes some good points.
All this was done in service of a lunatic religion of “maximizing shareholder value.” “MSV” by now has been proven a moronic canard – even onetime shareholder icon Jack Welch said ten years ago it was “the dumbest idea in the world” – and it’s had the result of promoting a generation of corporate leaders who are skilled at firing people, hustling public subsidies, and borrowing money to fund stock awards for themselves, but apparently know jack about anything else.