My mother liked to play the stock market. When I was very young, she tried to interest my brother and me in investing in stocks. She (or her father) gave us each a few shares of AT&T stock. She often emphasized that it was hugely important to return my voting proxy every year so that my shares would be voted. I didn’t understand why, as I wasn’t in any position to understand the issues that I was voting on. She then said that I should probably always just vote as the Board of Directors recommended.

That didn’t sit well with me. How did I know they represented my interests? Even as a little kid this didn’t make sense.

In those days, AT&T was The Phone Company, a nationwide monopoly. The AT&T of today is only distantly related. But AT&T was broken up, and I ended up with fractional shares of many different “baby Bell” phone companies that then merged, went bankrupt, were acquired, split apart, etc. One of them even changed their name back to AT&T. As a consequence, I was constantly barraged with proxy voting materials, none of which made much sense to me. I stopped voting long, long ago — if I didn’t know what I was voting on, I sure wasn’t going to cede my authority to a bunch of corporate bigwigs whose values certainly weren’t well aligned with my own.

I haven’t voted my stock in a long, long time. Until today. I have a tiny little bit of Comcast stock. I also am forced by their monopoly status to get my internet service from Comcast and it is the most expensive, unreliable, miserable, enshittified internet service I have ever had. So I voted exactly the opposite of what the Board recommended. Will it make a difference? Unlikely. But perhaps it’s time that we all bought a share of stock in a misbehaving company, and voted the opposite of what the Board of Directors suggests.

(Of note, I make them send me an actual paper check for a couple of dollars of dividend every quarter. I figure that probably takes a buck or two out of the war chest they might otherwise use to buy lobby some politicians or regulators to make the world a more horrible place.)


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