Florida Must Hold Disney Accountable Because Nobody Else Can

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Choo Choo

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“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”  Psalms 95:6 (KJV) 

Mickey needs new management. Disney stumbled into the debate about Florida’s parental rights bill, and then kept yapping after losing that fight. Various Disney leaders were even caught on video boasting of “adding queerness” and “queer stories” to as much Disney content as possible.

Florida Republicans have responded by passing a bill that threatens to remove some of Disney’s special privileges in the state. Although the bill leaves some time to negotiate before it takes effect, it is still a significant strike against Disney. This was, as John Daniel Davidson recently argued in The Federalist, the right response: Republicans must push back against woke corporatism and capital.

After all, targeting woke capital and corporations is not about punishing actual owners for using their property as they see fit. Rather, in almost every instance, woke corporations are run by managers who do not own more than a tiny fraction of the companies they direct. Yet they nonetheless view the property they have in trust as their own, to be used for their personal political and ideological goals.

The left has learned that turning a corporation woke doesn’t require buying it. All it takes is a few key executives, some vocal employees, and a bit of social media pressure. That has been enough to push company after company into BLM-supporting, pride-flag-waving, diversity-consultant hiring wokeness.

Shareholders Can’t Hold Disney Accountable

Disney is an ideal example of this. Disney is controlled by business managers, acting on behalf of financial managers. Bob Iger, Disney’s former chief executive officer and current executive chair and chair of the board of directors, is reportedly the largest individual shareholder, with less than a tenth of 1 percent of the company’s outstanding stock. The actual ownership of Disney is held by various investment groups, which are themselves acting as managers for the money they hold on behalf of millions of us.

Disney is not run by its owners. It is run by managers. And they in turn are accountable to financial managers who are investing money that belongs to other people.

Buying into, say, an index fund offered by Vanguard that includes Disney stock gets Vanguard a seat at the table, not the individual investor. This multilayered management scheme makes it all but impossible for the people whose money was used to buy shares in Disney to hold Disney’s executives accountable.

As this illustrates, for every woke activist billionaire there are many more woke activist managers, who only wield real power because of the property they hold in trust for other people. Thus, the activism of woke corporations and capital is an attempt to establish a managerial oligarchy, in which the people entrusted with regular people’s money use that as leverage to bully and rule regular people. To a great extent, woke capitalism consists of using our money to intimidate our representatives and impose economic sanctions on entire states, from Indiana to Georgia, over everything from election security to religious liberty.

Not an Attack on First Amendment

These uses of corporate economic power for unrelated ideological ends are abuses of the stewardship that corporate and financial managers are entrusted with. Unfortunately, the diffuse and fluctuating nature of our current system of investment capitalism and ownership makes it difficult, if not impossible, for shareholders to hold these managers accountable.

This structural failure is why conservatives (as distinct from to libertarian ideologues) recognize a need for government in restraining these would-be man…

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