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Altruism and Chocolate
[September 19, 2002]

By Nicholas Provenzo

Yesterday, the Hershey Trust announced that it will abandon its sale of the giant chocolate maker despite an offer of over $12 billion in stock and cash by the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company. Wrigley's offer, valued at $89 a share, was a 42 percent premium over Hershey's stock price before the company was put up for sale.

As we discussed on September 9th, the Hershey trust faced intense political and civic pressure not to sell, including a successful effort by Pennsylvania Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Fisher to prohibit the sale in the courts.

Since Hershey’s decision not to sell is being triumphed as a huge victory, it is appropriate to consider just what was lost with the abandonment of sale: yet again, the right of a business owner to control his destiny is placed in danger. Any time a business owner takes steps that are in his interest, we can now expect those steps to be measured by their “impact on the community,” even when the community has no rightful claim to businessman’s property.

Note that not one elected official came to Hershey’s defense—even Republicans spoke out against the sale despite its making perfect business sense. This is crucial—it means that on a matter of property rights vs. altruism, there are no elected representatives willing to defend property rights.

If freedom means freedom from the bonds placed by others, just how long can we expect freedom to last if none of its defenders are in positions of authority?

 

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