It’s a truism: American megacapitalism sucks because it cannot plan for the long term. Without any ability to look behind the next quarterly report, the thinking goes, we lack the benefits of a long range planning horizons that accrue to, say, Japan, or perhaps Oxford University. (Sadly for all those who have retold this hoary old tale, BTW, someone has debunked it on Snopes. Oh well.
In any case, it’s such a firm bit of received wisdom that who can doubt it? Nevertheless, I was intrigued by a bit of radiojournalism that suggested that some of the Catholic Church’s appalling response to pedophilia can be explained by the notion that the Pope is taking the long view. He simply doesn’t care about this month’s polls. His institution has been around for centuries, and he expects it to be around for centuries more…so, who cares about the opinions du jour? You’ll be dead, and the institutional memory will outlive you.
Taking this to back to the topic of corporations, maybe we should be glad they care about how public outcry affects this quarter’s stock price. Imagine if they didn’t, and took the long view, and whatever they thought they could weather in the long term, they simply ignored! The corporation has every reason to expect to outlive you and me so in some sense we should count ourselves as damn lucky we can get them to listen to us at all.
That is, until we finally get the corporate death penalty…but don’t hold your breath.