FreePress’ Latest Net Neutrality Folly Pushing for Shareholder Votes
FreePress’ latest net neutrality folly and political agitation is pushing the SEC to make shareholders from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint vote on inappropriate, ill-advised, and unwarranted proposed shareholder resolutions in favor of wireless net neutrality in the weeks ahead.
Let me count the ways this is a waste of time and abuse of process.
First, it inappropriately and destructively attempts to politicize non-political entities, by trying to force a public political position from non-political corporate entities, whose contractual and fiduciary responsibility to shareholders is to economically/financially grow the value and profitability of the corporation.
Second, the appropriate place to have political votes is in legitimate political processes, elections or representative votes or decisions by elected officials at the appropriate local, state, and Federal level, which enjoy the constitutional, political, and relevant authority and legitimacy to decide political issues in a meaningful, substantive and productive way.
Third, the operative authority here for shareholders, the companies’ shareholder agreements, corporate charter, and bylaws, are legally grounded on a contractual agreement between the company and shareholder to protect and grow the shareholders investment in the company, not to promote extra-political positions that actually could endanger the underlying purpose of the shareholders agreements.
Fourth, the interests pushing for this vote do not have the interests of the corporation in mind at all. On the contrary, the purpose of radical pressure groups like FreePress, which are philosophically anti-profit, anti-free enterprise and anti-property, is to demonize/destroy corporations with a political strategy of “death by a thousand cuts” over a long period of time.
Fifth, a tacit FreePress goal here is to establish a slippery slope dynamic, where corporations increasingly must take shareholder votes on political issues. If they can establish this destructive political dynamic, corporations become increasingly ungovernable over time — a la the California political referendum model.
Sixth, FreePress is asking these shareholders to vote for what they could not convince the Congress, the FCC, or the American public to vote for.
Seventh, what FreePress really wants in the short term is a news hook and media event, where it can rail against the corporation to sympathetic press, and trumpet their wireless net neutrality position publicly as if people care.
Lastly and most importantly, there is no wireless net neutrality problem here to solve; and their so-called solution actually could fatally undermine wireless providers’ ability to reasonably manage their networks to ensure reliability and quality of service for all their customers. Simply if wireless providers cannot manage their core business assets, their network and spectrum, most efficiently and effectively based on value creation and profit metrics, wireless providers cannot succeed for shareholders or customers over time.
In sum, shareholders should vote “NO!” on the wireless net neutrality votes, to protect the best interests of shareholders, the corporation and its customers. These votes are a monumental waste of time and an abuse of the process by FreePress and other political agitators.
Scott Cleland (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of Precursor.com