Until last night's Paul Solman's PBS piece on the Market Basket brouhaha, Mad Dog was mystified by the "family feud" story of Market Basket.
What Solman showed was this not so much a family feud but a struggle between good and greed, between the capitalist system and a new idea of what the American capitalist system can be.
At the heart of this is the $500 million which Market Basket had accrued in profit. One cousin, Arthur S, saw that hunk of cash and said, "Give it to me," and the other cousin, Arthur T, said, "No, that money does not belong to you, or to the members of the board of director or even to the stockholders, but it should be plowed back into making improvements in the company, and ultimately, to rewarding our employees and customers."
The trouble with the "Wall Street" version of American capitalism is the boards of directors, who are actually in place in the boardrooms can rape the companies they have been given to govern, and they can award themselves huge bonuses and stock options worth millions while the hundreds of thousands of stockholders, who are spread out from Tewsbury to Omaha to Los Angeles cannot see any of these pillagers at work. All the stockholders know is whether the stock price has gone up or down, and possibly, whether or not a dividend got paid out. As long as the stock price maintains or rises, the distant, ignorant stockholders don't care whether they sell rat meat at Market Basket.
But the Market Basket employees had a different idea of the raison d'etre for the corporation: The company existed once to serve the customers first, the employees second and the stockholders last. This is what Solman calls, "Stake holder" as opposed to "Stock holder" capitalism.
And the Arthur T cousin was the consummate practitioner of "stake holder" capitalism, paying $12 minimum wage, plowing back profits into employee bonuses, and generally treating his employees like members of a beloved family. Apparently, he loved the family he chose (his employees) more than the family foisted upon him by the accident of birth (Arthur S.)
So, it turns out this is not a family feud, after all. There is a right side and wrong side here. This is Main Street vs Wall Street, benevolence for the many vs greed of the few.
Long live Arthur T.
Power to the workers.
God Bless the customers.
Let Freedom Ring.