People, Profits, & Pensions

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Middle Class Ownership of Big Business: Is it...

The New Frontier of Politics?

The middle class did not set out to buy stakes in big corporations for the sake of ownership. Instead, we put money into mutual funds and pension funds, to save for retirement and rainy days.

People Profits Pensions

Becoming owners of the world's biggest corporations was a side effect, an unexpected consequence, of that saving.

Consider how much of these prominent corporations belongs to institutional investors (primarily through pension funds and mutual funds, both of which are nearly synonymous with middle class):

McDonald's: 62.7%

JPMorgan Chase & Co.: 73.4%

Harley Davidson: 83.8%

Even Correction Corporation of America, the company that operates what we used to call prisons or penetentiaries belongs in this camp: more than 91% of its shares are owned by institutional investors.

And for those who appreciate irony: more than 78% of Tiffany & Co. belongs to institutional investors - in other words, the icon of luxury and affluence belongs mostly to the middle class.

At the People, Profits, & Pensions website, we explore the ownership of big business by the middle class. We ask not only 'How much?" but also 'What difference does it make?' 

Why does it matter? 

Because knowing about and understanding this great historical shift will lead to better retirement incomes for all of us, and stronger economies thanks to better public policies.

It's commonly said, and believed, that big corporations are at war with the middle class.

But, as you'll discover here, quite the opposite is true: Big corporations have become retirement income machines for hundreds of millions of middle class people.

Mutual funds and pension funds have democratized business ownership -- and profits -- as never before.

Find out more by reading Big Macs & Our Pensions: Who Gets McDonald's Profits?: a 3-chapter, 99-cent ebook (Kindle version at


Chapter 1: From Drive-In to Driving Force
  • Meet Richard and Maurice McDonald
  • Rethinking the Restaurant Model  
  •  Expanding the Vision 
  •  McDonald’s Today 
  •  So, How Much did We Make?
  • What’s the profit on your lunch? 
Chapter 2: Meet the New Owners
  • Why would a pension fund buy stocks?
  • The Many Hats We Wear
  • California Public Employees’ Retirement System
  • British Columbia Investment Management Corporation
  • Mutual Funds & ETFs: Vanguard
Chapter 3: Fast Food Fracases
  • Unfair Wages?
  • Our Many Hats
  • Hidden Subsidies?
  • Who Ultimately Decides on McDonald's Wages
Conclusion: Two Extraordinary Revolutions
  • The McDonald Brothers Go Home

3 chapters, 99-cents: the Kindle version of Big Macs & Our Pensions: Who Gets McDonald's Profits? is available at Also available at in paperback.

Corporate Ownership

The Ownership Cycle




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