I agree that no one wants to come off all sanctimonious like our macrobiotic warbler Chris Martin. But I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this: If you are a part-owner of a company that is employing Asian 11-year-olds to manufacture your product instead of paying fair wages, that fact should be "your business." Or if your company is dumping radioactive sludge into a river on the sly, that should also be "your business." There was a time when the ordinary individual didn't stand a chance against a corporate behemoth like GM
Seth and I disagree about returns for SRI funds. But I suggest that our readers have a look at the dozens of academic studies that already exist on this topic. My understanding of the research is that SRI funds perform just as well as traditional funds over the long term. One such study subjected 103 ethical funds from the U.S., U.K., and Germany to a thorough analysis and found little evidence for significant differences in risk-adjusted returns between ethical and conventional funds for the period between 1990 and 2001. You can find information on additional studies on this subject here. (Link opens a PDF file.)
Actually, I suspect that Seth and I are closer on this topic than either of us cares to admit. I certainly don't have to lecture the author of "Eyes on the Wise" about corporate infallibility. So let's all invest in companies we believe in, and when their leaders go astray (as they will), let's let them know who pays their salary.
Wait! You're not done. This is just a quarter of the Duel! Don't miss the Bull and Bear opening arguments and the Bear rebuttal. Even when you're done, you're still not done. You can vote and let us know who you think won this Duel.
John Reeves does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.