Good talkings here!
I believe there is a benefit beyond dollars and cents to putting your investment dollars in socially responsible companies, too.
--There is, but its tricky in economics to quantify intangible goods. And you're talking to an economist, so... yeah. I mostly focus on tangibles. The intangibles ARE important. We have little statistical tricks (called shadow prices) to try and figure it out.
Do you not find it even a little bit reprehensible that major corporations might, say, use sweatshop labor?
--Sweatshop labor is not necessarily bad. In India, a sweatshop town started around a sweatshop (I think its a northern city, gotta fetch the article). It drew alot of folks who were working on subsistence agriculture (not a good life). Once everyone got to the city (mostly women, young girls, teenagers) and worked in sweatshops, living standards somewhat improved (though nothing like what you or I would think are good living standards). The problem occured when the sweatshop closed down. They couldn't go back to agriculture (nor did they really want to). There were no factories. So they resorted to prostitution. I'm not excusing it, I'm just trying to build a framework around why some labor is better than others, and why for some economies, they have to go (grow) through using sweatshop labor. Some countries have tried to skip basic economy building steps, and well, financial crisises results as the necessary KSA's are not built up.
Or build factories in third world countries because there are few to no restrictions on air and water pollution compared to those in the US? Both of these things are common in this great globalized world of ours, and many companies regard these as legitimate ways to cut expenses, boost the bottom line.
--They do, though I think that consumer preference (intangible) is shifting based on what were seeing away from companies that do this (pollution, mainly)
Is the bottom line really all that matters? Just tough luck to the manufacturing workers in the US whose jobs, with all those unprofitable labor-law protections, were sent to cheaper plants overseas--they're just proles who lose as a matter of course? Tough luck to the locals near those factories who have to live downstream of the factory?
--Unions protect American jobs, dontcha know? (sarcasm). They only protect those who are in the union, and in many industries not then. In a way yes, tough luck, because free trade marches onward and we can't pull back from it (because then we risk recession and lagging behind other countries in terms of growth and wealth). Not tough luck, if we used the penalities for company who do such activities to promote worker education programs (Its what Clinton tried to get started, and he's a pretty smart economics dude).
--In the end, there are competing responsibilities. We have a responsibility to our family to provide as best we can (thus here, ONLY the bottom line matters), and we have a responsibility to the future/outside world (and here, the bottom line DOESN'T matter). No easy answer...
Some upside. Do you really think those chickens won't come home to roost someday? Do you really think they're not coming home to roost already?
All this seems very far away when you're staring at the bold print on your quarterly statement, but if you're going to be a Provider of Capital, it's worth giving some thought to who you're providing it to, and what they're going to do with it. Or does being an investor mean that you're exempted from being a good citizen, too?[/quote]
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