THE VALUE OF A BUSINESS

I am part of a microcosm that supports big business. I utilize Facebook as a convenient communication apparatus to keep up with friends and family both near and in distant places. Amazon is for stuff ranging from cat food to books and is a source of entertainment with the Fire Stick and Alexa. I have an iPhone, although it is a 5s.  I use Netflix for TV watching and Google plus Google Chrome for surfing the net.  I feel I should be using local businesses and I truly felt good about buying Virginia Diner peanuts at Northwest Hardware. BUT when the guy behind me got upset because the cashier was taking too long, I insisted he go ahead of me.  He was a bit embarrassed but moved ahead of me anyway. It was aggravating. This doesn’t happen at Amazon.

Which takes me to Christmas and the Hallmark Channel.  The town of Hollyvale, North Dakota is very typical of a Hallmark location and the Christmas Spirit in the digital age is a moving topic. What strikes me about this program and others is how business-centric they seem to be.  Though there are other types of plots, a common theme is that there is some business, or a town filled with businesses that revolves around Christmas and is enjoyable for the townsfolk but relatively unprofitable.  The characters have to find a way to make the business viable, in this case by helping Kate Harper, a national news reporter, find her Christmas spirit and draw people to the town. You can’t turn this plotline over to a soulless corporate operator who will lay everyone off and destroy the essential character of the town.  Typically, this involves teaching someone the true meaning of Christmas and the special value added to a company by longtime employees who put their hearts into their work.

A FAANG company would maximize profits by automating the bakery and relocating production to a central facility in Illinois. The ski lodge would be renovated, and new management would be brought in.  Of course, the toy store would close.

But the characters in this movie find a way to generate some minimum profit that’s enough to keep things running while providing steady jobs for devoted employees and special memories for customers. Plus, they find the Christmas Spirit for Kate Harper by reuniting her with Jack Brewster, her special friend, and her estranged father.  And that’s the happy ending. I cried a little.

The goal is to create a sustainable business that meets the needs of the various constituents without making anyone wealthy, just happy.  Too me, this is a noble goal.

I asked myself a question—what does this storyline mean? One possibility is that the Hallmark movies are a “true” reflection of our culture and of natural human values. We know that capitalism drives resources to their best use and this does not benefit everyone. Is Shareholder driven capitalism bad for people, even unnatural.? The role of business schools, as well as CPA, CFA and CFP training programs, are to indoctrinate young people in this unnatural value system just as the role of military boot camp is to get young people to overcome their natural instincts and run toward the fighting.

I suppose another possibility is that there are many folks who think about shareholder-value capitalism as synonymous with democracy and do not worry about the discriminatory aspect. I have come to believe that the role of Hallmark movies is to indoctrinate people in the unnatural part of the capitalist system. I like the idea of a small town filled with people who have a common purpose such as finding the Christmas Spirit or peace on earth or love for each other.

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