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Hi again Rich,

Rich wrote: "I think if more people own stocks directly rather than through mutual fund managers, shareholder activism could become a very effective tactic...
I hate to disagree with you, but until the earth's people embrace each other in a multi-ethnic, mono-lingual, Star Trek like geopolitical untopia OR something drastic happens to alter the way MNCs do business, I doubt that individual shareholders will ever wield a great deal of power except collectively. Now, that can happen if a few highly motivated individuals get organized and mount a massive campaign. But, by and large, mutual funds are (and I suspect will remain) the most potent corporate lobbying tools simply because they concentrate the two essential elements of shareholder action (monetary clout and issue-specific motivation) in one convenient package. As the number of shares held in SRI funds grows, corporations will increasingly have to look to them for approval. Still, let me reiterate that I still advocate individual stock ownership as a means of controlling one's own ethical impact.

You also wrote: I must confess that I find the terms "socially responsible" and "investing" to be mutually exclusive. The people who actually work at your "good" companies could really use the extra money that you pocket instead.
Are you suggesting that it is more responsible to give away money directly than it is to invest it with care? Sure. Why don't I just give away all of my possessions and go live naked in the woods, eating nothing but wild nuts and berries? That would be more responsible than sitting here in my gas-heated home typing on my silicon-filled computer that's powered by a coal-fired plant, wearing a shirt that may not be made entirely of organic cotton, sipping coffee that was probably made from beans picked by underpaid workers on an eroding hillside that was once a rainforest. I should at least stop showering, since that's a waste of water. And I definitely can't wait to tell my daughter that she won't get to go to college but will still have to support me in my old age because I gave away all our savings to some assembly line workers in California who make a heck of a lot more money than I do.
Gimme a break.
Susan (who doesn't mean to be cranky, but is a little tired of arguing with paper tigers)

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