I’ve been funding genocide

This is not a happy post. It won’t make you feel good. Fair warning.

 

If you have a mutual fund, you probably get proxy voting notices too. They want you to “vote” for board members….from their candidates who have names like Mortimer J Buckley and William McNabb, III. It’s a merry little farce of democracy, but what are you gonna do?

My question “Are there any people of color on the list?” confounded the poor earnest young man, so I capitulated and voted their list. (Note, there actually was an African American man this time! Progress?)

The acknowledgment of “voting” came in the mail, and was headed straight from the envelope to the recycling when a little paragraph caught my eye:

Charles Schwab ethics

 

“A shareholder proposal to ‘Institute transparent procedures, to avoid holding investments in companies that, in management’s judgement, substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity, the most egregious violations of human rights. Such procedures may include time-limited engagement with problem companies if management believes that their behavior can be changed.’”

 

That is: “a shareholder proposal to maybe admit when we heavily fund incredibly immoral companies committing full blown genocide and crimes against humanity. If management says they are. And even then we’ll just give them money for ‘time-limited’ periods, though we won’t say what that means or provide any pressure not to just keep on funding murderers and tyrants forever. If that’s okay with management.”

And the official recommendation of Charles Schwab? Against this incredibly tepid murmur of conscience, this statement so wimpy and easy to ignore that it makes the whole thing kinda offensive?

 

They voted no. Didn’t want it. Opposed a simple non-binding statement that maybe funding genocide is less than awesome. Cuz profit. Cuz capitalism. Cuz greed.

 

I am disgusted. And I am ashamed.

 

When I set up my investments I did it specifically with ethics in mind. No oil companies, no Monsanto, that kind of thing. Schwab was supposed to be the more ethical choice, better than the conquistadors of greed over at Goldman Sachs or HSBC. But this. They oppose the wimpiest anti-genocide statement I’ve ever heard.

And what really bums me out is that Schwab is possibly still better than average. Because our capitalism doesn’t seem to have understood that immorality is a bad thing. That’s profoundly awful. But what are you going to do?

 

I can’t just leave it awful. I need the reminder of Goodness. Because even if our corporations are sinister immorality machines, most members of our species are not. I’m not teaching at the IRC these days, since Trump is not among the kind-hearted humans so has blocked the US from helping those in need, so I ran out of students. But the wonderful people at the IRC are still going, and are currently doing a fundraising campaign, featuring one of the families I worked with on the explanation page. Give them a look, they are truly wonderful people, and if you want to vote that America (or your country) is not defined by the sort of immorality that runs our economy (and current administration), the link is right there.