United States, Inc.

Sail on, o Ship of State! Sail on, o UNION, strong and great!
Humanity, with all its fears, with all its hopes for future years,
hangs breathlessly on thy fate!
(from Henry W. Longfellow's "Ship of State".)

Poetic sentiment has its limits. Most Americans don't read poetry. They have probably never even heard of Henry W. Longfellow. They only hear about this poem in school, where it goes in one ear and out the other. If we want Americans to connect to nationhood, to a "union," to the idea that we share ownership of a nation, and fate has entrusted its welfare to us, then the best approach has to involve money. Corporate ownership of something involves shares of stock, which have monetary value.

I wish that the United States appeared on the stock-market pages of daily newspapers and business-related TV stations like Bloomberg and CNBC as United States, Inc.—along with Apple Computer, Google, and New York Municipal Bonds.

Americans could see how United States, Inc. maintains its value in the face of current events and bad press—from as non-partisan a source as you can get, its monetary value—in order to inform and connect Americans to the idea of ownerhip in America as a financial entity, using its monetary value as an indicator of its overall health. United States, Inc. could reward its investors by paying out hefty dividends. Bad press, fearmongering, and rumor-mills don't stand a chance in the face of America's non-partisan financial data.

Media organs report everyday on the stocks and bonds issued by corporations, known collectively as securities, and report their valuations daily, so that investors can measure the value of their stock positions, compared to valuations from the week before, or from last year. Maybe the investors can do better if they sell their positions in United States Inc. and invest in something else. But a loss of confidence in United States Inc. leaves Americans with few options.

Loss of confidence in a private corporation usually leads to a shuffling of leadership, sometimes to a division of the corporation, sometimes to its selling. For all the public tumult of such measures, it happens everyday. Business leaders do not see a division as a huge risk, because they can rely on the non-partisan monetary valuation of the corporation to guide their decisions.

The old Prudential Insurance slogan "Own a piece of the rock," could serve as the basis for the new slogan, "Own a piece of the country." You don't buy it. Citizens get a piece of it because their lives depend on its success, and its dollar value is a quantity they can easily grasp. If the nation increases in value, the value of their "piece" increases, their dividends as well.


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Lloyd Bowers

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