The ultimate goal of public policy in the 21st century may be expressed in very simple terms: ensure good living conditions to the population – while respecting the 9 environmental planetary boundaries that set limits to our production and consumption (climate change; rate of biodiversity loss; interference with the nitrogen and phosphorus cycles; stratospheric ozone depletion; ocean acidification; global freshwater use; change in land use; chemical pollution; and atmospheric aerosol loading). Is this goal achievable? The answer is yes, because it has already been achieved by one country: Costa-Rica. The good news is: this achievement is the outcome of deliberate policies, not of mere chance.
Source of data in the image: World Bank, stocks traded, turnover ratio of traded shares.
When asked about who should govern companies, the most obvious answer seems to be: the shareholders. And the reason: because they are the owners. Period. Debate closed. Recent discussions about the increased role of other stakeholders, be they the workers, representatives of external interests such as those of the environment or of suppliers, are seen like nice add-ons, little more than an inflexion to a generally valid rule.
I disagree, and believe that the role of the shareholders in the governance of companies should be radically reconsidered.
“The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone” was published in 2009. Written by [British epidemiologists and economists] Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, the book highlights the “pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption“. It shows that for each of eleven different health and social problems: physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage pregnancies, and child well-being, outcomes are significantly worse in more unequal rich countries [than in equal rich countries]. (Excerpt from the Equality Trust website launched by the authors, with links to further details on each of the “health and social problems” listed).