Vox ex­pla­na­tion high­lights gap be­tween po­lit­i­cal world and every­body else

The Covington News - - OPINION - To find out more about Scott Ras­mussen and read fea­tures by other Cre­ators Syn­di­cate writ­ers and car­toon­ists, visit www.cre­ators.com.

A re­cent col­umn on Vox.com may have in­ad­ver­tently high­lighted the gap be­tween the na­tion’s po­lit­i­cal elites and the rest of the na­tion. Vox is an “ex­plana­tory jour­nal­ism” site founded by for­mer Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist and blog­ger Ezra Klein.

When Fox News’ par­ent company briefly flirted with buy­ing Time Warner and CNN, Vox ap­pro­pri­ately deemed it wor­thy of com­ment. They pro­duced a nine-ques­tion Q&A fea­ture by Matthew Ygle­sias.

At the time this fea­ture was put to­gether, Time Warner had al­ready re­jected the of­fer from Ru­pert Mur­doch’s firm. One of the rea­sons they gave was that it would be a mis­take for their share­hold­ers to ac­cept non-vot­ing stock in the new company.

So, Vox in­cluded a ques­tion- and- an­swer at­tempt­ing to ex­plain why any­one would buy non-vot­ing stock in a pub­lic company. “It’s a lit­tle mys­te­ri­ous,” ac­cord­ing to Ygle­sias. The Vox blog­ger wrote that, “the value of a share of stock stems from the fact that own­ing it en­ti­tles you to a small slice of con­trol over the en­ter­prise.”

It’s un­der­stand­able that a po­lit­i­cal junkie would think of stock own­er­ship in terms of con­trol. That’s es­pe­cially true of a left-lean­ing blog­ger writ­ing about a merger story in­volv­ing Fox and CNN.

How­ever, most peo­ple who invest don’t buy stocks with hopes of con­trol­ling the company. They do so be­cause they want to make money. For some, it might be part of their re­tire­ment plan­ning. Oth­ers are trad­ing for shorter-term goals. But, with only rare ex­cep­tions, in­vestors buy stocks in hopes of mak­ing fi­nan­cial gains.

Seen from this per­spec­tive, the value of a share of stock has noth­ing to do with vot­ing rights.

The real value of a share of stock de­pends upon how much cash it will gen­er­ate for the owner. The the­o­ret­i­cal value of a share of stock is easy to de­fine. It’s worth the present value of fu­ture div­i­dends and the even­tual sale price of the company. When a company an­nounces some ex­cit­ing new prod­uct, ex­pec­ta­tions go up, and so does the share price.

While that def­i­ni­tion is fine in the­ory, no­body can pre­dict the fu­ture. As a re­sult, the price of stock moves up and down. When peo­ple think a stock is un­der­val­ued, they buy it. If some­thing hap­pens to change their per­cep­tion, they sell it.

More im­por­tant than the value of a share of stock are the at­ti­tudes re­vealed by th­ese dif­fer­ent views.

The po­lit­i­cal world thinks of us­ing their in­flu­ence to con­trol oth­ers. Whether it’s pro­hibit­ing pot or man­dat­ing spe­cific health in­surance re­quire­ments, the po­lit­i­cal process is about telling oth­ers what to do. Noth­ing else mat­ters. Ygle­sias even writes that if you own stock with­out the abil­ity to ex­er­cise, “You don’t re­ally own any­thing of real value.”

While po­lit­i­cal types think of con­trol­ling oth­ers, that’s not some­thing most Americans value.

Most think of what they can do ev­ery day to make life just a lit­tle bit bet­ter for them­selves and their fam­i­lies. If they invest wisely, they pre­pare for the fu­ture. If they work to­gether with oth­ers in their com­mu­nity, they make their com­mu­nity stronger.

At the end of the day, the dif­fer­ence is sim­ple. The po­lit­i­cal world re­lies on co­er­cion. Most of the na­tion prefers co­op­er­a­tion.

SCOTT RAS­MUSSEN

COLUM­NIST

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