Divestment Is Hard To Do

By now we ought to understand that it is the major international corporations which constitute the most powerful political entities active in our land today. It is a false perception that “Trump” is driving the deregulation destroying our living environment. It is incorrect to think that “Trump” is deconstructing our social safety net and public educational system. Trump is merely the grotesque manifestation of a process that has been undermining our social contract for many years; at the root are the major corporations.  Through their lobbyists and political donations Corporations now write our laws and drive to get them passed. Can anyone claim that the actions of government today represent the will and needs of the people?

If our votes and our protests do not have significant influence on the downward trend, what are we to do? Each of us is embedded in the system - yet paradoxically isolated and powerless. Many millions of us receive our income directly or indirectly from the very same sources of our economic and environmental difficulties (rather like the politicians themselves.)  What is more, we feed back some of our income into investments in those same corporations again though our retirement plans, investing in corporate-equity-based mutual funds.

Instead, we must invest our attention and resources to better our situation, not feed the problem. We can vote most directly with our dollars. Divestment from companies which damage the environment has become a significant effort. One successful example can be found here: https://gofossilfree.org/commitments/ This approach is becoming very powerful as people and social institutions participate more and more.  And similar efforts can be mounted against companies which undermine our democracy, our education system, access to healthcare, or support our bloated, aggressive military.

For us individually to divest from undesirable investments can be very difficult. Those of us with retirement-plans will find that the investments there are dispersed greatly among a number of mutual funds and other financial instruments, which themselves are diversified. Our ability to control the placement of our money in retirement plans is very limited. So each of us needs to examine our financial situation and find out how we can obtain more control. Personal control of our money, directing it to channels where it will pay off in a better world for us and our grandchildren should be the goal.

But even our day-to-day buying habits can make a difference. Shop less! Spend more time with family and friends (maybe talk about what you see happening around you). When you buy something, consider a local source. Search out the local fruits, vegetables, craft-beers, furniture. Get your lawn-mower repaired before you buy another. Make special effort to avoid buying from companies that funnel money to politicians you disagree with. Then use the money you save thoughtfully - invest in ways that pay off for us in the long run. Perhaps contribute to a charity or a politically active organization. Invest wisely, and your grandchildren will thank you for it.



Thomas Twinnings 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Each of us must try to invest our resources with the understanding that we actually LIVE in the world of externalities, and not the abstract, non-living world of bank accounts and financial statements. It is simply good investment sense to seriously consider the environmental and social costs of our investments, as well as the short-term (and volatile) rate of return.

Thomas Twinnings 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Just as Corporations are not People, People are not Corporations. Our motivations must be different, as living, human beings.