Voting is a virtuous cause. It legitimises what is done in the name of the voters - and confers the right to tax them.
It is a social good that associates individuals with the Governments and councils that govern them and with the MPs and councillors that represent them.
Those who don't bother to vote are feckless airheads who deserve the Government they get.
We know all that. It is easier to assert than to prove, but harder still to dispute. And what goes for the country g oes for joint stock companies. Well, yes. For all the modish talk about stakeholders, only shareholders can keep the directors in order.
Nobody else can block a plans for corporate upheavals that change the nature of the company - or dispute opaque and exorbitant pay packages.
Yet anyone who has ever been a shareholder must have felt there is something slightly anal about ticking all the boxes to re-appoint the auditors and pay the dividend and posting the card without fail, knowing all the time you are going to be swamped a million times over by those financial institutions that take the trouble.
Now the Government has recognised this. It proposes to compel institutions to report how they vote on all resolutions. Quite right, too, surely. That way the people whose ownership rights the institutions are exercising will know what is done on their behalf. So will everybody else.
There is nothing like transparency to sharpen up corporate governance.
Well, that's the idea. It has attracted a furious blast from the Association of Investment Trust Companies, speaking for some of the most reputable, conscientious and public spirited institutions in the land (and some others, no doubt).
The AITC's theme is that it is all great nonsense that will do nothing whatever to enhance company performance and cost its members -and indirectly everyone who invests through them - some £30 million a year.
Yet at the end of it we will never be told the interesting bits - what hedge funds and arbitrage artists are up to.
They use contracts for difference, which don't have votes, or lurk overseas beyond the reach of British regulations.
Then what sense will it make when an institution has voted two ways? A fund manager may if two pension fund clients instruct it to take opposing sides.
A split capital investment trust might, too, if the interests of income shares differ from those of capital shares.
The bureaucracy would be immense. Suppose the routine votes are excluded, a company might seek approval for six or a dozen material issues each year. So an institution with 250 shareholdings - and plenty have twice that - will have to report up to 3,000 votes every year.
As the AITC, says, that fits strangely with the Govern-ment's new buzz-talk about "risk-based regulation".
It is also a gross "gold plating" a coming European proposal to give the underlying beneficial owners the right to ask and be told how the institution voted on a given resolution.
Just this once, the Euro-idea looks best.