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[GreenYes] Re: Paul Hawken critique of Socially Responsible Investing

Well Mike, you are right that Socially Responsible Investing is a
contradiction in terms, yet perhaps for a different reason. It doesn't
really matter that Socially Responsible Investing doesn't appeal to
those who find the capitalist system irresponsible, as those folks are
presumably not sending their savings anywhere other than under a
mattress, but it might lure a few of them out into the market. SRI is
trying to bring more people in, so let's call it a 'big tent policy'
for the investor class. However, I don't think that individual SRI
funds have near the growth potential of environmentally-sensitive
funds, because there is a much wider-ranging debate about what
constitutes social responsibility (versus what is good for the natural
environment). The "Paper vs Plastic" or PLA polymers debate is nothing
compared to disagreements among socially-inclined investors over
abortion, gay rights, non-spousal benefit provisions, affirmative
action, outsourcing, offshoring, immigration, or even a 'living wage'.
SRI funds face not only a fragmented market, but one in which the
market niches are mutually exclusive. (Even related issues can be
fractious- one could reasonably make a 'socially responsible' case for
all four combinations for/against immigration/offshoring of jobs.)
Except with the most milquetoast of SRI fund charters, an investment
company can't expect to serve oppositional camps very successfully, so
by nature, the niche markets will be served by niche companies.
Unless, of course, you view your dollars simply as economic votes, and
don't mind that your broker, like most politicians, is also in bed with
the enemy.
-Jay Donnaway

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