Published: Huffington Post 8/9/11
I am a one man operation. I like it that way.
I get calls all the time from companies looking for the Owner/IT Dirtector/Head of Food Services -- you get the idea. They want to sell me stuff I am not generally interested in. It goes with the territory.
Occasionally, I get calls from an over-perky, over-caffeinated Dun and Bradstreet marketer (they got 2 strikes right there). The call generally goes something like this:
Hi, can I speak to the head of finance?
You got him. What can I do for you?
We noticed that we have no record of your company, Find A Nerd, on file. People are making inquiries.
What do they want to know?
They want to know about your credit.
What did you tell them?
We couldn't tell them anything -- that is why I am calling.
Don't you want people to know about the financial position of your company?
We sell that information to other companies.
So you get paid to tell people about my company?
Yes -- and you can have a report too if you sign-up!
But, I already know about my company.
But you will see what we are telling other people!
So what do I get out of it?
You get to be known as a Dun and Bradstreet subscriber!
OK -- what are you going to pay me for my information?
Nothing -- actually -- you pay us.
So we can rate you properly.
Oh -- let me get this straight -- so you charge me to get my information so you can turn around and tell other people about my information?
Yup -- isn't it great!
But they are paying for my information too?
Wow -- you got it going both ways. Do you like the book Catch-22?
Not heard of it -- what's that?
Nevermind -- I don't think I want you to tell other people about my business.
But but but...
And we go around in circles for a while because I have this odd notion that I should get a cut of the action if they are going to sell my information.
I look at these guys as just a bunch of parasites.
Now we have another parasitic company (in my eyes) doing essentially the same thing. Standard and Poor's sits there and "rates" companies, governments, whatever and gives them a score. I don't know who gave them this power, all we know is they have it.
The information being gathered by S&P is being used to set a reputation about the companies it rates. The 500 Companies don't get a cut of the profits S&P makes on selling their information. But S&P can destroy them.
They are now using this power against our economy and our country in a profound way. This firm held Congress and the president hostage to get what they wanted. Then they shot the hostage.
Moving the rating from AAA down may have caused world markets to tank.
American business has a vested interest in having responsible people running this firm. This company asked for a compromise out of Congress and the president and got it. Then -- the first chance it got to do the most damage -- Friday afternoon after the markets closed -- they struck. The downgrade had all weekend to simmer in Asia for a Monday Morning Tanking.
Can American companies defend themselves against this ratings system? It appears this ratings company can drive other companies out of business.
As stock prices go down, the companies can become targets of takeover bids -- further chaos in the marketplace.
What can the business community do to force S&P to take responsibility for tanking these firms and the jobs of the people who work for them?
To keep S&P honest there needs to be a way to place a check on them.
I am no lawyer -- but can these companies sue for a cut of the S&P action? I am sure each of these companies has a copyright on their names. Every time Standard and Poor's references a company name -- should they have to pay a royalty to that company because of copyright laws?
After all, if the company's name or brand did not exist S&P would have nothing to sell.
It is their good names on the line when S&P played games this weekend and watched the values of these stocks start to bottom out.