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Subject:  Re: Divestment vs. customer boycotts Date:  11/11/2000  3:22 AM
Author:  scdII Number:  1309 of 2249

It was your argument that SRI is a contradiction in terms -- which seemed to be the kind that exists solely for argument's sake but has no intellectual backing -- that I meant to characterize as a paper tiger, not you personally. Although I realize that this is a fine distinction, personal attacks (as you noticed) have no place here, and they're not my style anyway. In any event, I truly apologize for being testy. However, I seriously do find the proposition that one can not be socially conscious and an investor at the same time without being a hypocrite tedious to say the least.

Is the question of whether or not the stock market as we know it is a positive societal force one worth exploring? Certainly. Do we live in a flawed, capitalist country? Sure. Is there vast injustice, disparity of wealth, discrimination, environmental degredation, and outright evil doings out there -- particularly among the huge MNCs that fuel the market and hence make possible the standard of living that offers us the luxury of saving for a rainy day? Undoubtedly. But in my view (let me stress this) there is everything commendable and absolutely nothing hypocritical about seeking to reward the best, avoid the worst, and match our investments with our values. Nothing. I may have over stated my case a bit with the nuts and berries thing, but I will defend to my last breath the concept that great things can come from small beginnings. If everyone in this country recycled just a little, if we all gave just a little to charities each year, if we all used just a little less water and created a little less waste, drove a little less, gave just a little more of our time to community service, and paid a little more attention to complex political issues than we do to sound bites, the end result would be a lot of change for the better. And if ALL of us investors paid just a little more attention to the social and environmental policies of the companies we invest in, they in turn would have no choice but to pay a lot more attention to us. That would ultimately help make the world better. Period.

Sure, it would be fantastic if everyone gave 100% all of the time, and wouldn't it be great if we were all able to live up to our own standards and be the people that we wish we could be every day. But we're not saints. We're just people, Rich, who have families and lives and jobs and mortgage payments and bills and problems and futures to plan for, and we do the best we can. We can care about those less fortunate than we and care for ourselves at the same time. That doesn't make us hypocrites. It makes us human.

In fact, the paramount hypocrisy, IMO, is pretending to give a d*mn about social issues then throwing up your hands and saying its impossible to put your money where your mouth is so why even try. I've seen few people come to this board looking to "polish their halos." I see a lot of people come here looking for ways to resolve the ethical dilemmas forced upon us by our culture and our way of life, searching for a way to be true to the values they hold most dear. Those values happen to include a somewhat secure financial future. Ridicule if you like, but I happen to think that even if the journey isn't straight and the end result is imperfect, it matters to try, and it matters to refuse to give in to cynicism.

Susan (who apologizes for the sermon and promises to try and stick to facts from now on)
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