Platon for TIME
April 23, 2014 5:53 PM EDT

Carl Icahn and I have been friends for decades. We’ve been called a lot of names over the years. “Corporate raider.” “Asset stripper.” “Bloodsucking ghoul.” All tough stuff. All inaccurate.

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Sure, Carl is about as smooth as a stucco bathtub. But he is the best thing going for corporate America. Call Carl what you want, but recognize him for what he is: a shareholder activist. And an effective one at that.

Carl demands change in a corporate America more focused on maintaining the status quo. Carl brings ideas to the table. Creative, problem-solving ideas. And he backs them all up with major investments in the companies he gets involved with. More often than not, he’s right. They listen to Carl. Changes are made. Companies and corporate America improve.

In the process, Carl has consistently done more for shareholders than any CEO. And, of course, Carl makes money. What’s not to like about Carl … and America?

Pickens is a U.S. investor

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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