Maimonides constructed a scale of charitable giving that is still widely regarded, from the most grudging to the most effective and open-hearted. Those of you who went to Hebrew school may recall his image from your blue notebooks with black print.
A younger friend has asked me to get together to talk about Socially Responsible Investing, and I am delighted as well as challenged to do so.
Here is a stab at a SRI scale. Perhaps someone out in Blogosphere knows if this has been done and can share a link.
From bottom to top:
- Benefiting from socially destructive, illegal activities: directly profiting from nasty stuff like prostitution, drug running, war-profiteering etc. Hopefully you cannot buy stock in such enterprises.
- Benefiting from socially irresponsible, legal activities such as tobacco, alcohol, ammunitions etc. which also oppress workers, pollute, and generally have harmful side-effects to their activities. There is just such a fund, VICEX.
- Investing in socially irresponsible products which are manufactured with good environmental and labor policies. Think a handgun factory with unionized workers, carpools, and advancement opportunities for women and minorities?
- Investing in socially responsible products with bad work conditions, like eco-efficiency product manufactured in Chinese pollution-spewing sweatshops....
- Investing in benign products which are screened for worker fairness, pollution controls, et al.
- Investing in socially beneficial products which are screened for fairness, pollution controls, et al. Maybe you could buy shares in a worker-owned wind farm with a minority female CEO?
- Investing directly in socially responsible activities through microfinancing, community investing, etc.