BusinessCorporate FinanceBeware the green-eyed monster

Beware the green-eyed monster

I recently finished reading Ayn Rand’s novel ‘Atlas Shrugged’...

Neveling

The story is about a group of exceptionally talented business people who grow
wealth and prosperity through their ability and work ethic.

Eventually these people are forced into exile because they are constantly
hampered by over-zealous government officials and lazy citizens who mooch off
their industry.

The novel ends with society in complete collapse because the people with the
ability and energy to build and grow have been driven away.

I couldn’t help but draw disturbing parallels between Rand’s dystopia and the
circus that saw the UK’s most successful private equity bosses hauled before the
Treasury Select Committee, to be subjected to hours of aggressive and sarcastic
questioning from politicians – not for their failures – but for their
achievements and ability.

Union bosses have reached new lows by getting in the way of festival-goers’
fun at Glastonbury and by distributing pictures of PE bosses as a ‘rogues
gallery’. What exactly has private equity done to warrant such vitriol other
than be incredibly successful and competent in what it is doing?

Yes, they enjoy generous tax breaks, but those same tax breaks are available
to any other business that chooses to take advantage of them.

And yes, they are not as transparent as public companies, but isn’t the
endless wave of regulation that plc has been subjected to the reason why it has
been so comprehensively outperformed by private equity?

This whole exercise screams ‘jealousy’ to me. Why is it always the case that
the successful have to be vilified and criticised?

Maybe trying to tarnish their achievement is a way of excusing the lack of
effort and ability others employ.

Nicholas Neveling is a reporter on Accountancy Age

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