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Socially Responsible Investments

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  • Clore Daniel C
    News for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo THE STRONGEST FORCE: LOVE, LUST, OR MONEY? Ann Hancock is a sustainability educator in
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2002
      News for Anarchists & Activists:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

      THE STRONGEST FORCE: LOVE, LUST, OR MONEY?

      Ann Hancock is a sustainability educator in Sonoma County,
      California.

      What is the strongest force on the planet? Love? Lust?
      Money? If you ask Amy Domini, President of the Domini Social
      Equity Fund, she thinks it's money. The dollars we spend and
      invest have power. They create consequences that affect the
      economy, and by extension, each other and the world. Domini
      adds, the strongest force on the planet is "you with your
      investment account and me with my investment account."

      Because of people's growing awareness of the power that
      voting with their money carries, they are increasingly
      turning to socially responsible investing. In 2001,
      according to a report just released by Social Investment
      Forum, socially responsible investments -- "SRI" for short
      -- accounted for a record $2 trillion, capping two years of
      rapid growth despite an overall bearish market. Total SRI
      assets rose by 36 percent, from the second half of 1999
      through the middle of 2001, compared with a 22 percent rise
      for other investment assets for the same period.

      Diane South of Citizens Funds says, "When you think of Enron
      as a story of greed and hubris, socially responsible
      investing is really a story about goodness and heart." But
      investors needn't sacrifice the bottom line for goodness and
      heart. For example, over the ten year period ending June
      2001, one Domini fund exceeded the Standard and Poor 500
      Index, which is a very impressive performance.

      Europeans surpass Americans in their commitment to socially
      responsible investing. Case in point: four countries --
      Britain, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands -- now
      require that every pension fund include in their annual
      report a description of how they use environmental and
      social criteria as part of their investment decision-making.
      According to Hugo Steensma, an advisor to Zurich-based
      Sustainable Asset Management, citizen and shareholder
      pressure in Europe and increasingly in the United States has
      caused pension funds and companies to become more
      environmentally and socially responsible.

      "We have more power than we realize and can exert it to
      bring about corporate change -- but collectively, not as
      individuals working alone," says Steensma. For example, he
      cites the Greenpeace-led boycott in Europe several years ago
      protesting Shell Oil's disposal of obsolete North Sea oil
      platforms. Shell lost about 50 percent of its sales in
      Europe and was forced to the bargaining table. Ultimately
      Greenpeace and Shell came to a mutually amenable agreement.

      Visionary investors help create shareholder and corporate
      advocacy that in turn applies pressure on legislation and on
      rules governing national and international economies. Mutual
      funds are starting to seek companies whose leaders actively
      advocate and lobby for socially and environmentally
      sustainable practices and legislation.

      Such advocacy is urgently needed. International financier
      George Soros warns, "Although I have made a fortune in the
      financial markets, I now fear that the untrammeled
      intensification of laissez-faire capitalism and the spread
      of market values into all areas of life is endangering our
      open and democratic society. The main enemy of the open
      society, I believe, is no longer the communist but the
      capitalist threat."

      Every dollar that respects and restores social and community
      fabric, that hugs a tree and not just the bottom line, helps
      rewrite our economic rules and create a sustainable world.

      This is Ann Hancock for TomPaine.com.

      --
      Dan Clore
      mailto:clore@...

      Now available: _The Unspeakable and Others_
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      http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1587154838/thedanclorenecro

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      News for Anarchists & Activists:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

      "It's a political statement -- or, rather, an
      *anti*-political statement. The symbol for *anarchy*!"
      -- Batman, explaining the circle-A graffiti, in
      _Detective Comics_ #608
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