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Selling The Seed Corn

By Dean Whittaker

We are living in interesting times. Many may not know what it means to sell the seed corn. Basically, the farmer retains a portion of each year’s crop to plant the next year. When we sell the seed corn, we have become dependent on borrowing money to buy seed corn to plant for next year’s crop.

In September 2015, Johnson Controls (JCI) sold their automotive seating division to Yanfeng, now the largest automotive parts manufacturing in the world. What this means locally is that the 3,000 employees of JCI here in Holland, MI now work for the Chinese government. Yes, we will continue to receive the payroll, but we have lost the profit that the company produced – profits that can be used to fund R&D and new product development. We have lost control, and as a result, our fate is now determined by an entity with a different economic system and a different worldview.

While adjusting to this news, I notice another Wall Street Journal story about the acquisition of Carmike Cinema by AMC, and a Fortune article outlining Chinese acquisitions of U.S. firms.

Article

According to Fortune, in addition to the entertainment industry, the Chinese have been on a shopping spree spending $107 billion in the first three months of 2016 compared to the $103 billion they spent acquiring companies in all of 2015. Some of their major acquisitions include: Starwood Hotels ($14.3 billion), out-bidding Marriott; Smithfield Foods ($7.1 billion), the largest pork producer in the U.S; Ingram Micro ($6.3 billion), an electronics distributor; GE Electric Appliances ($5.4 billion); Terex Corp ($5.4 billion), a heavy equipment manufacturer; Legendary Entertainment Group ($ 3.5 billion), a movie producer; Motorola Mobility ($3.1 billion); AMC Entertainment Holding ($2.6 billion); and Carmike Cinema ($1.1 billion).

The Chinese Government will now determine what movies are shown in U.S. movie theaters! The Chinese are also in negotiations to acquire movie production companies.

I don’t know about you, but this “colonization of the U.S.” concerns me. What type of product placement will we start seeing in our movies? What influences culture more than the movies we watch?

While I was ranting about these acquisitions to a friend, he reminded me that we have spread our culture in exactly the same way…through our movies. How ironic!

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