Comments on: Let’s stop investing our retirement funds in lethal weapons Thu, 21 Jul 2016 07:57:19 +0000 hourly 1 By: nicholas2 Sat, 26 Jan 2013 22:40:21 +0000 another limo liberal who wants to push an agenda with my money.
I am happy with my returns from vanguard, and more than happy with the way they invest.

By: Rasputin5 Sat, 26 Jan 2013 22:32:08 +0000 The following is a project for a business ethics course which requires me to post a reply to an article, hence the length and the format.

I would like to comment on is your idea that if a fiduciary manages money for parents, it must think like a parent and invest the funds accordingly, i.e. not invest in gun manufacturers.
The first problem with this idea is that it is impossible to know what another person is thinking; it is impossible to think like a parent. There are poor parents, rich parents, parents of all different religions and ethnicities, and, heaven forbid, I am sure there are a large number of parents who are members of the NRA. To think like a parent might be to have a wish to protect and nurture children, but all of these different groups and each individual parent within them have a different way of wanting to achieve this. So it could be quite difficult for the fiduciary to ‘think like a parent’. For similar reasons it could also be quite difficult for the fund managers to use the prudent man test in this sort of ethical dilemma- my prudent man may be pro-gun/nuclear power/war on terror, your prudent man may not.

While you are correct that a prudent person would not use their own money to harm their children, there are two problems with this logic in terms of owning shares in a gun manufacturer. The first is whether or not you believe that owning or selling stocks in a particular company encourages that company to grow or fail; if the company grows presumably the amount of harm caused by the company also grows. In most stock transactions the bottom line of the company is not affected- so the company does not grow because of investors exchanging shares, and as quick as one investor sells them they are purchased by another. The stock price may fall but given time it may rise back to previous levels; the only thing that would cause a gun manufacturer to fail is if it couldn’t make a profit making and selling guns anymore. If it became socially unacceptable for most people to own stocks in these types of companies then gun manufacturers may find it hard to raise capital by selling shares, and new companies may find it hard to get start up investment; but I would suggest that as long as there is a return to be made on investment there will be willing investors.

The second issue with this logic is whether you believe that guns are intended to harm children, I don’t believe they are created nor intended for this purpose. However in Newton a man did harm and kill children with guns. Guns are certainly capable of this; so are trampolines, ponies and fast food, in fact in 1999 there were almost 100,000 emergency admissions caused by trampolines in the USA (FSCIP, 2011). None of these products primary purpose is to harm children, but improper use has the potential to harm and even kill, just as improper use of a gun does. Does this mean we should divest our money from all products that have a potential for causing harm? This would make investment difficult, and a definition of what constitutes enough harm to warrant divestment would need to be established (as opposed to a knee jerk response to public outcry).
This sort of idea aligns with Freeman’s stakeholder theory proposes that managers (trustees in this case) must take into account the possible benefits and harms to all stakeholders when making a decision, and the harm or benefit that the decision may cause them (Freeman, 2004). I would argue for Friedman’s stockholder focused view; that it is not the place of business to police society, only to act within the law and the reason that stockholders participate in these funds is primarily fiscal. Any deviation from an attempt to increase profits legally is in contrast to this (Friedman, 2005). If this were not the case the stockholders would have invested in one of the many ethical funds, however these tend to perform poorly compared to ‘sin stocks’ (Randall, 2009).
This brings me to my next point- it is unethical for a trust to change its investment strategy on a whim, or to public pressure. I believe the only thing that should encourage a trust to make major changes to its investment strategy is a referendum of its investors. This is because these people have used their free will and rational autonomy (The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, 2009), to choose to enter an agreement with the trust presumably based on its previous performance and its investment strategy. For the directors to suddenly change the investment strategy is for them to violate the basis of the agreement, unless the directors are elected for a period by the investors based on their character and past performance to manage the funds as they see fit. For example, if I wanted to save for a university education for my child and I signed up to a trust because it had produced good returns over time and had a policy of following certain indexes which tended to achieve these good results, if, without consultation the trust decided to exclude certain, previously well performing, stocks from its books which could affect the performance of the entire trust and in turn affect my ability to provide an education for my child, this would violate the agreement I had, and so be ethically wrong.

By: AZreb Sat, 12 Jan 2013 13:38:50 +0000 Let’s stop sending our tax dollars to countries like Israel who have seen a 20% increase in weapons sales – and those sales might be to countries who hate the US. Sheesh – we’re not even getting a dime back from Israel for our dollars that go that country.

By: ugrant21 Fri, 11 Jan 2013 20:58:19 +0000 Oh gosh darn! I guess I must sell my McDonalds stock holdings [fat kills you know], there goes my Ford stock [carbon footprint and cars kill], Exxon [big oil]. Anyone know of any good Amish-based firms?

Itis so hard to be politically corrent these days.

Whats a liberal to do?

By: zotdoc Fri, 11 Jan 2013 15:15:08 +0000 What about aerospace and defense investments – these are the highest in lethality. Unfortunately, we live in a world with competition and bad people and we can’t end guns anymore than we will be able to keep iran nuke free. Its the same tired nonsense from the 60’s “what if we had a war and nobody came” – nice idea, but it never has and never will happen.

By: upstater Thu, 10 Jan 2013 23:54:28 +0000 How about mentioning Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, et. al.?

Don’t their products kill more people that Smith & Wesson and the other gun manufacturers?

By: auger Thu, 10 Jan 2013 19:11:53 +0000 Thanks for the reminder. I am checking the prospectus on my Vanguard dividend fund. Small step, to be sure – but anywhere is a good beginning. Pharm companies don’t force anyone to take their medications, and they don’t take lives from the luckless who are simply in the wrong place when a shooter decides to go off

By: CaptnCrunch Thu, 10 Jan 2013 18:39:25 +0000 I see perusing the prospectuses of your funds Mr Kanzer that you have no problem investing in pharmaceutical companies. You are are aware that prescription drug abuse is a huge problem?

The CDC says prescription drug overdose deaths have tripled since 1990 and as of 2008 the United States was experiencing 12 deaths per 100,000 population due to overdose. You realize that exceeds gun deaths?

But hey, you’re selling rich people feel good investments and no doubt making a fine living at it. The ducks quack and you feed them, no point in worrying about dead children that no one is noticing.

By: Harry079 Thu, 10 Jan 2013 15:34:59 +0000 “I believe divestment of stocks in gun manufacturers is appropriate”

That’s is fine and dandy to have that belief.

Then they should also divest of any Defence Contractor stocks too. For the products they make kill children and teachers around the world.

By: OneOfTheSheep Thu, 10 Jan 2013 06:23:34 +0000 Our “author” is “Managing Director and General Counsel of…” “…of a family of socially responsible mutual funds”? Puleeze. Let’s see the hand of those who believe this guy, whose bread and butter is made making investors feel guilty, doesn’t have his own “agenda” for hard-earned money?

“..the Newtown massacre has prompted an important and overdue debate about the role of investment in our society.” Nope. Humans massacre each other all the time. And each time the “liberals establishment, unwilling to let any tragedy go to waste, emerge from under their rocks in droves to “debate” with statistics carefully cherry-picked for emotional impact simply because they have learned that every time this subject is discussed from a logical basis they LOSE.

You challenge “…a philosophy that treats investments as abstractions, divorced from real world impacts…” [of] “…the millions of Americans invested in so-called ‘low cost’ index funds.” “Our” government has created a “new investment climate” in which most Americans can not preserve purchasing power if they deposit “savings” in a bank, credit union, money market or government bond. Precious few Americans can today afford the moral standards you would establish as a “standard”.

And let’s get one thing straight. Those who manufacturer guns are no more “collectively responsable” for an individual or group’s misuse of their product than those who manufacture chemicals or refine minerals or make electricity or do any of the things that enable our society to function. Nobody wants to think of the little bunny rabbits that get swept up and baled with each cutting of hay, but they’re in there and they always will be because it’s too expensive to protect them and still grow, cut and sell hay.

When some sociopath is kicking in my front door, my safety and that of my family depends on our prior preparation. This is the “violence”, whether or not they have a gun, that threatens our society day by day. My wife isn’t equal in strength to some crackhead idiot, but her gun and training will assure it is HIS family on the evening news trying to convince viewers what a wonderful life of great potential was “cut short”. If you want to donate the safety of your wife and family, that’s between you and them. Be my guest.

So long as “human nature” is as it is, the civil in our society must each be ready to do their part in discouraging or thinning out those who would tear it down or apart. If propagandists like you ever succeed to the point that only the “bad guys” have guns and “we, the people” have only box cutters or utility knives with which to defend home and hearth knnow wiith certainty that you will eventually hear the knock at your door of people with torches and a stout rope.

We already know that society is all but powerless to rein in the costs of an ever-growing lawless underclass since “our” choices are to kill them or lock them away most of their lives. It is THESE costs you should be concerned with, and not trying to deprive hard working citizens of the protection any law enforcement officer will admit that they cannot provide “24/7″ anywhere.

And well said, LysanderTucker!