Nothing more irresponsible than investing in weapons
By Michael Kramer | February 4, 2013
Re: “Misdirected furor,” editorial Jan. 21:
As an accredited investment fiduciary, let me just say shame on you, editorial board, for suggesting that somehow one can be a legitimate fiduciary for investing in companies and industries even when the risks of doing so are so obvious and plentiful that any reasonable person would understand it to be imprudent to invest in it.
Not only has the research already proven that companies with stronger environmental, social and governance performance often provide better financial returns, but more importantly, it is surely a breach of fiduciary responsibility to invest in companies that continuously operate with serious environmental, reputational, health, safety, labor and governance risks derived from harmful and exploitive business practices. For all these risks do indeed translate into financial risks, which affect shareholder value.
Furthermore, what is the point of making money if the consequence is slowly killing human civilization? We need to invest in the solutions to the problems we've created, not keep investing in these toxic industries as if our sole obligation is to make money at the cost of our health and survival. You have completely missed the true definition of fiduciary responsibility if you believe otherwise.
Shame on you for believing that taxpayers and future generations are responsible for cleaning up the social and environmental catastrophes left by businesses and the investors who own them. There is nothing more irresponsible than making money from weapons, chemicals, sweatshops, poor working conditions, indentured servitude, warlord-owned industries, polluters and those contributing to global warming — businesses that put our society and planet at risk every day and are not held accountable for doing so. To believe that only policymakers bear that responsibility is incredibly insular and completely arbitrary reasoning. Being responsible to shareholders and beneficiaries doesn't mean doing so no matter what the cost to society.
This editorial and immature cartoon represent such an outdated, unethical and irresponsible way of looking at investment, a way that is directly responsible for the perilous state of the global economy, the planet's warped climate, and Earth's degraded and disappearing natural resources. Profiting from moral bankruptcy and detrimental industries is not only deplorable, it is bad financial practice, so it holds no place in an investment profession that is charged with guiding investors toward “sound” investments with a solid long-term future. To fail to honor this objective is to entirely breach fiduciary responsibility, and the consequences of this decades-old pattern are already upon us. To not see this reality, and to hide behind some absurd notion that investors ought to make money at all costs, reflects a total failure to understand the world and humanity's place in it. Time to move on to another phase of your life, editors; you are causing way too much harm with this recklessness.
Natural Investments LLC
This article originally appeared in the February 4, 2013 print issue as, "Nothing more irresponsible than investing in weapons".