Long-Term Investing

Investing and Ethics

Without much investing experience, I’m already thinking about the ethical side of it. Asset allocation is not my only dilemma. What bothers me now is this: Do I just look for the big bucks or do I follow my principles and avoid investing into industries/companies that contradict my beliefs?

I have already stepped over my principles once: invested into a uranium-producing company (and sold the stock for a modest 7% profit). I’m opposed to mining nuclear anything. Humans are not yet advanced enough to deal with something as powerful. We’re too close to self-destruction. Everything nuclear should be left alone for at least a thousand years. It’ll be ironic if I get blown up by a uranium terrorist bomb. (I have to start flying Icelandic Airlines and move away from downtown Toronto). No uranium for me anymore.

Another industry that I don’t want to touch is cigarettes. Strangely enough, I’m not opposed to the liquor producers. Cigarettes have evolved from a simple rolled up tobacco leaf – still addictive by itself – into a much more addictive toxic chemical mix. Alcohol is not as habit-forming and if you stick to the more pure drinks, you’ll avoid majority of the added toxins.

I have a very conflicted view on oil, the petrolium kind. Clearly we can’t live without it anymore. And the problem is much bigger than just the car fuel. Oil is used to manufacture plastics, lubricants, food packaging including fruit wax, asphalt, perfumes, cosmetics, medicines, fabrics, computers, tapes, CD’s, pen ink… and many more. So even if corn and soy are planted all over the world, and we have enough ethanol to replace oil as fuel completely, there are still all of these things that are truly impossible to live without. Take it all away and we’re back in the 19th century.

On one hand, our lives have been improved, or at least made a thousand times more covenient. On the other hand, a lot of petrochemical-derived products are now proven to cause diseases. I personally try to avoid them when I can, especially with something I ingest or apply on my body, but I can’t give up the computer, nylon stockings, electric toothbrushes etc.

I’m starting to think we’re all doomed anyway, but there’s a small part of me that hopes we’ll come out of the death spiral we’re in, so here’s a few other places I won’t invest for various reasons: chemical industry, genetically modified products, cloning, Chinese companies, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, autoindustry, military.

I feel like a half-Neo Luddite / half hypocrite and I have no answers. Politicians have a very difficult job, though I still believe a lot of them are idiots 🙂 My solution for now is to fight my small conscience battles one-by-one.

An argument could be made that you should invest into whatever brings you the most money, even if it’s evil according to your values system, and then use that money to fight the “evil”. This is not for me, I don’t want to enable what I believe to be negaive. The new world order is “cash is king” and not providing the funding is about the only way I can personally influence anything, yes, in a very small way but still… So I’ll vote with my dollars.

Educational info on oil uses (a lot of it in pictures).