WWYD: Profiting From What We Morally Don’t Approve
This week’s question in our What Would You Do series borrows a dilemma from the rich. Case in point: Democracy Now recently reported, “The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation makes millions of dollars each year from companies blamed for many of the same social and health problems the Foundation seeks to address.”
To bring the question closer to home… what do you do when you learn that your money is contributing to things that you might not morally approve? Perhaps this is through a purchasing decision, like Rich brought up awhile back in his WWYD post entitled, Boycotting Homophobia. He asks, “Would you avoid shopping or eating somewhere if you learned they had an anti-gay policy? Would you also avoid shopping or eating somewhere if you learned the company, or the company’s founder, gave millions of dollars to causes you were against?”
But for today’s question, let’s switch it from the dollar we are spending to the dollar we are investing. Is it easier to turn a blind eye? Just as with consumption choices, most investing decisions imply some moral choice.
Joshua Kennon at About.com talk about the ethics of stock, bond and mutual fund ownership. He writes, “Many people feel strongly about the political issues that confront the world today – abortion, environmental protection, and animal testing to name a few. Ironically, millions of investors are supporting companies that partake in activities and donate money to causes that are in direct conflict with their beliefs, ideals, and philosophies.”
Here are some examples about the choices we must make with socially responsible investing. Let us know what you think.
1. Many mutual funds have holdings in Altria Group (which includes Philip Morris, one of the biggie tobacco companies). The fund is making money but yet 1 our 3 smokers die from smoking. Are you okay with this? If not, what do you do?
2. Animal research has played a major role in many major medical advances of the last hundred years. Perhaps it’s okay when it comes to science. But animal testing is used on many of the products that we consume every day. Oral-B and Oil of Olay… ever used these brands. They’re owned by Gillette and Proctor & Gamble which are both blue chip companies and fair game when it comes to a stock portfolio. Or is it???
So when is this okay and when is it not? Enquiring minds want to know?!