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Fly the Unfriendly Skies

Spanning most of my career, whether working as analyst or journalist, I have repeatedly railed against how U.S. law treats businesses—essentially as people. Reason: Moral dichotomy, where the ethical priorities of publicly-traded companies vastly differ from—and often contradict with—values of the people founding, running, or working for them. Keyword is value, where one usage refers to beliefs and another to money; meaning stock price and proceeds returned to shareholders.

My first, best articulation of this concept came during an April 2006 radio interview—I believe for NPR marketplace—when discussing major U.S. search providers Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo censoring results in China, at the government’s insistence. Behind the action there loomed censorship’s morality, such as restricting search terms like “democracy”. I expressed that there is no moral high ground in business. The high ground is quagmire, because all public companies share a single, moral objective: Make profits for stockholders. Plain, pure, and simple. Sadly, that moral agenda explains why United Airline’s PR week from Hell is Heaven for shareholders. Overbooking means the carrier fills seats; operations are lean and mean (quite literally, the latter). 
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With Whom Should Authors Unite?

That’s the question on my mind since I started self-publishing ebooks about a year ago. Falling ebook prices and rising number of cheap reads—an increasing number of them serials built around single characters—offer readers bountiful choices. What’s good for consumers may not be best for producers, though. If 99 cents is the value of all books, who can make a living writing them? The answer to that question makes Amazon the savior of publishing or the great Satan destroying it.

I write about this today because overnight Amazon sent long email “Important Kindle request” announcing Readers United. But the letter didn’t come to me as a reader but as an author, from Kindle Direct Publishing. Amazon and publisher Hachette are engaged in a dispute that, long-term, could affect future ebook pricing. Hachette Authors United seeks resolution from Amazon, which calls on readers—and writers—to respond in kind.
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