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Ethical Man - Justin Rowlatt

Ethical Wife in cash giveaway shock

  • Newsnight
  • 20 Feb 07, 03:30 PM

By Bee Rowlatt, Ethical Woman

bee203quida.jpgI’ll admit that when it comes to money, like most of us, I have no idea what it’s doing when it’s not actually in my pocket. So I was more than a little nervous when Newsnight asked me to give my husband’s finances the ethical once-over.

This all came about as a result of my revelation, seven month’s into Justin’s stint as Newsnight’s Ethical Man, that he had quietly held onto a small but profitable shareholding in an oil company.

So I’d got my hands on his filthy lucre. My first instinct was to sell the shares and give all the money to charity – not something Justin does very often. But this is supposed to be an exercise in ethical finance. So here’s the question: is it ok for an ethical man to hold shares in an oil company?

Justin’s shares - as a portion of the oil company – equate to over four tonnes of carbon. Add that to our family’s carbon footprint and it would increase it by a whopping 40% - from 10 to 14 tonnes. As Justin’s wife, this is my footprint too: I was ready to flog the shares there and then.

Then our carbon guru, Professor Tim Jackson, pointed out that it’s the people who pump Justin’s company’s product into their cars and factories who end up “owning” the carbon cost.

But surely by making a profit from the oil industry you must be held at least partially responsible for its consequences?

Justin argues that there is nothing inherently wrong with investing in an oil company. He pointed out that we all use oil in one form or another, and it has to come from somewhere. But I suspected that not all oil companies are the same.

My job was made more difficult because the oil company in question refused to participate. So I tried several other British oil companies instead. They wouldn’t take part either. Were they all feeling a little vulnerable about their activities?

This wasn’t to be the only rebuff I encountered. I went to a glamorous City event celebrating five years of the FTSE4Good, an index that encourages corporate social responsibility. And even here - despite the flowing champagne - the big business leaders refused to discuss their ethical credentials with me.

Naturally the anti-oil industry campaigners were all too happy to talk, and I also got some help from ethical fund managers and other city sources. Even the Environment Secretary, a man tipped to be the future prime minister, stepped into the fray to advise on what Justin should do.

Here’s what I told them: the company Justin has invested his money in shares in is a relatively small company specialising in oil exploration. As oil companies go it isn’t remarkably bad, but then it isn’t especially good either. (I found no records of the company even hinting at green technologies like carbon sequestration or bio-fuels.)

So should I keep the shares, or should I sell them? And if I sell them, what should I do with the profits...?

bee203reva.jpgI turned to a very ethical man indeed - a Canon, no less. Canon Christopher Hall is a life-long environmental campaigner. He also has shares in Shell Oil. His advice was that the best way to deal with the ethical conundrums posed by the shares was… to keep them!

He argues that the best way to change companies is from within. At last year’s AGM, he lobbied Shell to change their corporate behaviour, and persuaded another £10-billion-worth of shareholders to defy the board.

I find this compelling, but would the shareholder in question, my husband Justin, feel the same? Justin is no campaigner. He didn’t seem to know much his company’s activities, and by his own admission he has never so much as been to an AGM.

My mind was made up – the shares had to go. Now I needed to find something ethical to do with the profits.

Ethical finance is a subjective business. There are some things you simply don’t do: nukes, tobacco and arms. But after that, it is a bit of a pick ‘n’ mix. You choose what matters to you – be it animal rights, religion, human rights, the environment – and then you select your investments accordingly.

I was told that as well as excluding companies that “behave badly”, I could also use my investment to encourage good: to put pressure on companies and keep them under scrutiny.

Not only that, you’ve got to decide how “good” you want the companies you invest in to be. Ethical investment indices for environmental investments range from so-called dark green (very ethical!) to light green (more mainstream).

Given that Justin has the weighty title of Ethical Man to live up to, I didn’t mess around. Only a dark green fund was good enough for us. I knew his first question would be “But will it make money?” but reassuringly the fund has consistently out-performed the FTSE average.

But I also held some money back. Because I’m with all the people who have written in to Ethical Man to say that being ethical isn’t just about being green – it’s about being good. I still wanted to give some of that oil money to charity.

justin_effect_203.gifGiving to charity is a private matter, but I was surprised to find out that around a third of the British public rarely or never gives at all. Sadly Ethical Man falls into this category, the extent of his charitable giving is limited to a direct debit to Oxfam for the princely sum of £2 a month (and I’m sorry to add that it was me who set this up for him).

Just for fun I let Justin believe that I was going to give away the whole lot. But ultimately it is his money. Realistically 20% of it struck me as a figure I thought he’d find hard to argue against. I chose to target somewhere I felt the money would have the best impact, and so have chosen two small charities in which I have a personal interest:

Friends of Colombia and Elizabeth Blunt School.

Not everyone has a share portfolio of course. But many of us have some savings or perhaps a baby bond to invest. So why let it languish in a bank when it could be out there doing some good, and maybe making you some money too!

Bee Rowlatt's film on Ethical investments will be shown on Newsnight at 2230GMT on BBC Two and on the Newsnight website on Tuesday 20 Feb.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 10:46 PM on 19 Feb 2007,
  • Jenny Spouge wrote:

Sell them and invest the money in one of Triodos bank's accounts which actively support investment in a range of issues - green energy or trade justice, social housing etc. Then the money is giving you a return (as shares would, but probably more reliably!) but is doing something useful and ethical while invested.

  • 2.
  • At 11:11 PM on 19 Feb 2007,
  • Elizabeth Lloyd wrote:

Why do you have to give the proceeds to a charity? Why not continue to have the money invested, but in an organisation which is working, for instance, to promote sustainable technology in the developing world, or to improve renewable energy development, or something like that. I would not want to give the impression that all investment is unethical!

Keep digging. It can't be that obvious. When it comes to ethics vs. money it never is.

Witness today's revelations that conventional lightbulbs may contribute to background warmth in the home, so that the energy and cost you save in light terms by having low-energy bulbs is merely transferred to your heating costs!

The truth is, in every sense, 'out there'.

Fifi

  • 4.
  • At 04:52 AM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • Mr Crooks wrote:

I really do not understand the supposed quandry, a shareholder can attend the AGM and raise the question of what actions the company is doing to reduce the carbon footprint, so why do you not do that, encouragement of this sort will be far more effective than just selling the holding.

  • 5.
  • At 08:45 AM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • Lakshmi wrote:

I worry when you imply that the oil company is somehow more ethical because it specialises in exploration. As someone who works in some of the most remote areas of the world, I have seen these companies come in and destroy fragile ecosystems with small bores that may or may not ever produce oil. They build roads that irrevocably change the ecosystems and they usually do it on indigenous territory without their consent. They hire the poorest of the poor for exploitation wages and keep them mollified with prostitutes and alcohol. If they do strike oil, a previously relatively pristine region is utterly destroyed, socially and ecologically. I agree with the others, invest in ethical shares--mine are giving a great return.

  • 6.
  • At 09:39 AM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • Keith wrote:

Ethical investments are all well and good, but after three attempts Triodos bank still proved unable to send me details of the accounts I had enquired about. Based on that degree of competence, I have reconsidered where to put my money. Is it possible to buy Shares in Good Energy, the UK based 100% renewable energy company, instead?

  • 7.
  • At 09:41 AM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

My pension is currently invested in a Green portfolio which has actually outperformed the market quite well over the last 5 years. This is partly due to people's increased environmental awareness but also because of the amount of money being pumped into Green R&D. Looking at it purely from an investment perspective, "Green" is quite a boom industry at the moment and seems a pretty good place to invest money.

  • 8.
  • At 09:44 AM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • Roger Vine wrote:

This is all nonsense. Oil is used for plastics, artificial fibres, pharmaceuticals, paints, you name it. Vilifying oil companies and then using oil based products is utter humbug. It is the squandering of oil as a fossil fuel, not the exploration for it, which is a problem.

I work in the oil industry, and struggle almost daily with this precise issue - how can you give a damn yet still work for / invest in oil?

The pragmatic place I usually end up in says that there is no viable alternative energy source in the near term, so the oil will continue to flow regardless. However, it can be done better - cleaner & with less waste - but this costs money so the oil companies will not do it on their own. Priority 1: Shareholders expect returns, however they also have power to influence the direction a company takes; employees even more so.

Don't be a sleeping shareholder - view your shares not as a financial investment, but as buying yourself influence and a platform to put pressure on big business to do the right thing.

I work in the oil industry, and struggle almost daily with this precise issue - how can you give a damn yet still work for / invest in oil?

The pragmatic place I usually end up in says that there is no viable alternative energy source in the near term, so the oil will continue to flow regardless. However, it can be done better - cleaner & with less waste - but this costs money so the oil companies will not do it on their own. Priority 1: Shareholders expect returns, however they also have power to influence the direction a company takes; employees even more so.

Don't be a sleeping shareholder - view your shares not as a financial investment, but as buying yourself influence and a platform to put pressure on big business to do the right thing.

  • 11.
  • At 03:00 PM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • lee M wrote:

who cares?

nothing is truly ethical, charities pay 100's of 1000's to their borad, and spned far more on admin than on real charitable activities. Oil companies find oil, sometimes to the detriment of local populations, then again the government in the UK spends my taxes in ways I don't approve of and on things I disagree with.

It's all the same, so give up, spend your own money how you like and accept nothing you ever do will make the blindest bit of difference in a world run by power and money crazed meglomaniacs

  • 12.
  • At 05:21 PM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • GPM wrote:

I advise private clients on investments - I have been very surprised how many are now keen to have an ethical slant to their portfolio. Unfortunately, this is only a very small sector of the investing public. There are different ways in which a fund can classify itself as 'ethical' with varying shades of green. There are only about 50 funds out there for Uk retail investors and most conscentrated within UK Equities thereby lacking any diversity.
A useful website however is
http://www.eurosif.org/sri/sri_funds_service

  • 13.
  • At 05:33 PM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • David wrote:

It also seems nonsense to worry about whether the same company does oil exploration and green technology - maybe the people who are good at one aren't very good at the other. What matters presumably is that there is investment in both. Really it is pretty ridiculous to try to evaluate the ethical standing of a single company in terms of WHAT they do - unless you just object to the activity absolutely. Instead perhaps people should think about HOW they do the thing they do.

Don't you love the BBC's preoccupation with middle-class guilt?

"Oh dear, I own some shares in an oil company... How terrible I am... I must give them away to charity..."

It's time the BBC was kicked into the real world.

Don't you love the BBC's preoccupation with middle-class guilt?

"Oh dear, I own some shares in an oil company... How terrible I am... I must give them away to charity..."

It's time the BBC was kicked into the real world.

  • 16.
  • At 06:30 PM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • Peter Hughes wrote:

I consider it unethical to own shares. Share ownership puts at risk the livelihoods of a company's employees, exposing their jobs to what amounts to international gambling, as well as fraudulent practices (q.v. Enron). I have never bought (or sold) shares, instead I lend my pension savings to the UK government, for despite Trident, the invasion of Iraq, and support for nuclear power (all of which I oppose), I should feel hypocritcal were I unable to support financially the government of the country in which I (currently) choose to live.

  • 17.
  • At 06:47 PM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • zakaria wrote:

infact,i am comletely at a lost,figuratively yes,philosophically i dont understand what you meant by the business being ethical.for me i think your decisson was too hash.in any case your husband for that matter your better half must be educatd byyou about the kind of business he found himself, because what is bad to you may good to zak.perhaps you need to educate me more for me to what you saw earlier.anyway ihave just started with you and i believe i will know more from you maybe gain more.

  • 18.
  • At 07:19 PM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • joejl wrote:

Assuming oil and its products are going to be produced, and sold - and bought by all of us - it behoves those who wish to promote ethical behaviour not to walk away from oil companies. The major shareholders in oil companies, like everything else are Pension and Insurance Funds if they exercised a social conscience more aggressively and more generally eg over directors rewards then a more ethical society might result. Small direct shareholders can at least try to prick the conscience of the big battalion shareholders - washing your hands is a Barabas endorsing strategy...
JoeL

  • 19.
  • At 07:31 PM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • joejl wrote:

Assuming oil and its products are going to be produced, and sold - and bought by all of us - it behoves those who wish to promote ethical behaviour not to walk away from oil companies. The major shareholders in oil companies, like everything else are Pension and Insurance Funds if they exercised a social conscience more agressively eg over directors rewards then a more ethical society might result. Small direct shareholders can at least try to prick the conscience of the big battalions - washing your hands is a Barabas endorsing strategy...
JoeL

  • 20.
  • At 07:32 PM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • joejl wrote:

Assuming oil and its products are going to be produced, and sold - and bought by all of us - it behoves those who wish to promote ethical behaviour not to walk away from oil companies. The major shareholders in oil companies, like everything else are Pension and Insurance Funds if they exercised a social conscience more agressively eg over directors rewards then a more ethical society might result. Small direct shareholders can at least try to prick the conscience of the big battalions - washing your hands is a Barabas endorsing strategy...
JoeL

  • 21.
  • At 10:31 PM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • mike wrote:

Share prices are set by market makers who look at the very big picture, unless justin is a fund manager for a major bank the fact he buys or sells shares will have no affect on the price at all and so will not incentivise the companies managment at all.
Giving up shares because you don't agree with the directors ethics is the equivilent to refusing to vote because you don't like the goverment, its a step backwards and serves no purpose apart from looking ethical to somone else.

  • 22.
  • At 11:16 PM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • Gill Hawkes wrote:

Is it ethical to be a rich, smug person, worrying about where to invest their money? There are millions, billions of people for whom this is a total and utter irrelevance, who have more pressing matters on their minds, like feeding their children. What a silly, spoilt woman.

  • 23.
  • At 11:24 PM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • Ben Sears wrote:

Bee Rowlatt is completely delusional. Surely she can only justify selling her poor husbands shares in an oil company if she completely banishes anything which originates from or contains oil (i.e. anything that is made of plastic or plastic components). Although it may be true that only a fraction of BPs budget is spent on investment and research in renewable energy, without this investment there would be considerably less progress made in said technologies. Oil will run out and therefore it is in oil companies best interests to invest in alternative energy sources.
Bee is a sucker for greenwash and needs to get real! Justin, I sympathise.

Ben Sears, BSc (Hons) Environmental Protection

  • 24.
  • At 11:25 PM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • Zennia Esterson wrote:

Ethical Woman, Bee Rowlatt's informative account was spoilt by her use of the programme as a forum for her political views.

I object strongly to her making accusations against Israel, when talking about the Caterpillar mini- digger.

She should have not only questioned her husband's ownership of oil shares, but have also commented on the ethics and human rights of those countries that produce oil.

  • 25.
  • At 11:33 PM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • j ellis wrote:

In your programme you stated that "LONDON HAS THE SAME CARBON FOOTPRINT AS GREECE OR PORTUGAL" According to the Times Atlas of the World it also has around the same population as greece or portugal not quite as bad as you made out.

  • 26.
  • At 12:10 AM on 21 Feb 2007,
  • Jamie Taylor wrote:

Oh puhleeze! This 'Ethical Man' stuff has gotten to be a most anal and boring piece of TV journalism. Haven't we all been tuned out enough already by the endless line of woolly jumper wearers waving their liberal and academic credentials in our faces whilst wearing their 'oh so disapproving' expressions and carrying lists of meanlingless statistics by now? This line of thought shoves onto our TV screens at too regular intervals and needs to give way to something sensible about the 'Green' agenda 'cos this stuff does it no favours at all. In our home we all tune into Newsnight to be informed, enlightened and educated not embarrassed into turning down the volume as we do now when these pieces about 'Ethical Man' appear. I suppose that the item was a bit of a laugh when it first hit the screen and mildly informative when you cut out the 'gurus' and the other oddballs who were just plain annoying but tonight Newsnight tranposed into a circus and this needs to end. Watching Justin be ritually humiliated to earn his crust doesn't inform, enlighten or educate us. It's tedious, irksome and dull. Please stop it!

  • 27.
  • At 12:19 AM on 21 Feb 2007,
  • MC wrote:

re .11 "...charities pay 100's of 1000's to their borad..." [sic]

Not so. The members of the boards of trustees of UK charities are not allowed to receive any benefit from the charity. They are, by law, unpaid volunteers.

"...and spned far more on admin than on real charitable activities..."

Actually, the top 500 UK charities spend just 12% on fundraising, management and administration costs. For most smaller charities it's even less, as they tend to rely more on volunteers for "office" functions.

The reason to hold shares and be an engageed shareholder is to act as a voice for the voiceless - the fenceline communities. Canon Hall is not a lone crusader but a member of the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (www.eccr.org.uk). We at ECCR seek to mobilise faith-based and other responsible shareholders in dialogue with companies to press them to improve their impacts on local communities and the environment.

  • 29.
  • At 11:33 AM on 21 Feb 2007,
  • aled wrote:

What a pathetic item. Have you used a plastic bag recently? If you have you have invested in the oil industry. Swaning around London drinking champage is not ethical, look at the size of that footprint for no benefit whatsoever. Growup and use some common sense

  • 30.
  • At 11:34 AM on 21 Feb 2007,
  • Lucy Potter wrote:

Well done Bee! I think that this is a fantastic piece of television. Not only has Bee successfully adapted her family to a year of living ‘ethically’ she has decided to have her say, by making her own investigation into oil companies, and why not?
She has explored a question which I have been have often wondered about, all these adverts saying that the oil companies are helping to save the planet. Has she not surely attempted to answer a question most people would like to know more about? I think it was well researched and the fact that no representative from an oil company was available proved very interesting. In this instance Bee did well to get a balanced report across to the nation. More!

  • 31.
  • At 12:18 PM on 21 Feb 2007,
  • dicky wrote:

isn't ethics about morality? So what are you/we supposed to be doing that is immoral but not illegal?

An enforced 20% to charity sounds immoral to me:)

is it immoral to be rich? Sounds like communism? Which is where a lot of so called green stuff is coming from. Deep red socialism in sheeps clothing.

as taxpayers we provide subsidy [are stakeholders in] to all sorts of things the beardies would class as 'sins'.

so i think we need to know who you voted for and what questions you asked them :).

That would finally turn newsnight into the reality tv show the bbc wants all its programmes to be patterned on?

maybe martha can give us 20 minutes on bee keeping?

  • 32.
  • At 12:49 PM on 21 Feb 2007,
  • chris wrote:

Im really fed up of this nonsense. Can we concentrate on the important stuff please like getting at the reasons for warming and the best solutions. According to a docu on the other night we would all be better off if we got in a boat went to a "desert" area of a sea and well did a pee over the side to feed some co2 eating stuff.

Bee's piece last night was excellent,the whole area of finance and ethics is slowly moving forward.I believe an ethical fund has hit the top of the performance charts for the first time (a bbc news report)
Id like to invite Mr and Mrs Ethical to try our service the next time they need mortgage advice. We search the whole market and are free to the consumer.If you use our service you can choose which charity (im assuming an ethical one) to receive a donation from the money paid to us as brokers from the lender.We are the first Community Interest Company (CIC) to do this and hope the discerning consumer will help us build a new choice,and a new income stream for good causes.

  • 34.
  • At 01:54 PM on 21 Feb 2007,
  • Winsor Davies wrote:

I hadn't watched Newsnight for a number of years, until last night (as I had some spare time, and nothing else was deemed watchable). What has happened to the incisive and objective reporting of yesteryear? Ethical man??? More like pathetic man. Sitting there meekly as his partner sold his/their investments. My only consolation is that there may be many others tempted to do likewise, so will hopefully deflate the price of these valuable equities for the rest of us to pick up some bargains.

  • 35.
  • At 02:38 PM on 21 Feb 2007,
  • Ahmed Suleiman wrote:

i realy enjoyed and show my kind of appreciation about ethical men and women and actually what they do. I really a kind of amazing despite the fact that i have not seen this message at an appropriete time, i could have patispate in given my more coment about it. thanks for keeping me in touch.

  • 36.
  • At 04:50 PM on 21 Feb 2007,
  • Richard Kiddle wrote:

Re: Lee M's comment "nothing is truly ethical, charities pay 100's of 1000's to their borad, and spned far more on admin than on real charitable activities. "

This is a very convenient get-out clause for not giving to charity, but please could you provide the facts to back up this statement. It sounds you have come to this point of view from some hogwash in a tabloid newspaper. I work for a charity and can tell you that the Board of Trustees are unpaid. Of course charities have paid staff too-we have to survive and why shouldn't we be paid for doing a job-but I can tell you that my salary is far from the mega-bucks you speak of. I thought the Newsnight Ethical Man feature was excellent. I have just switched my banking to smile because I want the little money I have to be invested ethically.

  • 37.
  • At 07:30 PM on 21 Feb 2007,
  • ChrisR wrote:

"So I tried several other British oil companies instead. They wouldn’t take part either. Were they all feeling a little vulnerable about their activities?"

Maybe. Or maybe they thought they would be done up like a kipper in a sensationalist piece that took their comments out of context and fawned over the opposing NGOs, all set to blaring rock music with weired camera angles. In other words a standard piece of Newsnight reportage.

  • 38.
  • At 04:12 AM on 22 Feb 2007,
  • Fanny wrote:

Some years ago I sold shares in Talisman which was then working in the Sudan. I was uncomfortable about the ethnic clashes of the Government against the South. Talisman eventually under pressure in Canada pulled out. China et al moved in and the genocide of Darfur became the headline.I don't think selling my shares had any positive impact on the Sudan. Talisman has perhaps become somewhat more principled in its foreigh dealings. If the situation came up again, I don't think I would sell. I would prefer to make representations to the company.

  • 39.
  • At 09:50 AM on 22 Feb 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

There are many ethical places to put your money that will give you an excellent return. Jupiter offer ethical funds that perform well, but also consider be to consider for the CIS Sustainable Leaders Trust, which as well as being ethical was the best performing fund in the UK All Companies sector for the year to 31 January 2007

  • 40.
  • At 10:53 AM on 22 Feb 2007,
  • Unethical Man wrote:

Sell them and buy shares in BAE!!!
BAE shares are not only giving great returns, but you can also rest assured that they have the backing of the "highest levels" of the UK Government, who have already personally assured us that they are clean as a whistle when it comes to ethical dealing...and if the Prime Minister says so, it has got to be true, isn't it?

  • 41.
  • At 12:59 PM on 22 Feb 2007,
  • GirdaClamp wrote:

Get real people. You can't live without oil or gas so stop pretending you can. Alternative energy sources (other than coal or nuclear) are unrealistic, impracticable and too bl**dy expensive. Cut down on usage by all means but for God's sake stop blaming everything on Big Bad Oil. I work in the industry and am always amazed when I see NGO's and other environmentally-correct people flying around the world (business class) and staying in 5-star hotels to attend meaningless conferences with their friends and colleagues who attended the last conference and the ones before that without ever achieving a single positive thing.

  • 42.
  • At 01:37 PM on 22 Feb 2007,
  • Alan wrote:

Theft is always unethical - the shares are not "ethical woman"'s to sell. She should counsel Justin to check out the company's ethical creditentials and if found to be lacking, either use his power as a share-holder to affect a change or move his investment to another place.

So should I keep the shares, or should I sell them? And if I sell them, what should I do with the profits...?

Justin sets up a CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) Trust, CAF can buy the shares from Justin at his book cost or at up to 70% of market value; the capital gain goes in to the trust, no liability for Capital Gains Tax on Justin (provided CAF buys at book cost) and as CAF is a registered charity no capital gains tax there either!. So Justin gets his original share cost back, he also gets a charitable trust with the gains therein (to better the world with) and gets rid of a headache. Justin could even invest the trust funds in an Ethical Fund. Win win situation!!

  • 44.
  • At 04:52 PM on 22 Feb 2007,
  • Andrew Hetherington wrote:

How the hell do you work this out:
"Justin’s shares ... equate to over four tonnes of carbon."
That looks like hokum.

  • 45.
  • At 05:26 PM on 22 Feb 2007,
  • marion wrote:

I was disappointed that Bee did not include her talk with the Ethical Property man on this website. I want to sell my property and, as an older person, move to something environmentally friendly for the latter part of my life as it is the only thing I can do to help the world my grandchildren will have to live in. I have tried finding this company but no luck so far. Can anyone help? It's easy for those who have written to the effect that Bee should just get on with her life as the whole world is corrupt. We know that, we have known it for years, but we can at least do what we can for the sake of future generations. Read `Gaian Democracies' and other books from the Schumacher Society plus other books about the way society should live. I quote Ella Wheeler Wilcox: `So many gods, so many creeds, so many paths that wind and wind, while just the art of being kind is all the sad world needs.' I have written a book about a Utopia but I don't suppose I will ever be able to get it published unless it is deemed `marketable'. Someone in my position has no power but I still do what I can.

  • 46.
  • At 06:04 PM on 22 Feb 2007,
  • Matt Munro wrote:

Personally I think the whole idea of "ethical investment" is an oxymoron. People only invest money to make more of it, and as all wealth is ultimately created through the exploitation of human labour, trying to increase wealth "ethically" isn't possible in logic or in reality.
If you are rich enough to have money to invest, you should look to maximise profit, otherwise what's the point ? Otherwise you may as well do the only truly ethical thing and give it away.
"Ethical investment" is up there with "fair trade" as the worst kind of middle class guilt trip.

  • 47.
  • At 01:23 PM on 24 Feb 2007,
  • Martin wrote:

Buy more shares, encourage ethical friends to buy share... and convert them to an ethical company through shareholder pressure. It's nonsense to avoid unethical companies, they're the very ones you NEED to be part of if you want to change them.

  • 48.
  • At 07:20 PM on 27 Feb 2007,
  • Matthew Evans wrote:

Nice one Bee for giving it a go, especially with all this criticism. I've not read all of it, but scan-read most.

Thank you for raising the difficult issue of how to behave repsonsibly with your cash.

"ethical"

Is there such a word in the modern world off today?.

  • 50.
  • At 09:35 PM on 05 Mar 2007,
  • Philip Spire wrote:

It's totally obnoxious for someone to pose as a representative of ethics. What gives him moral authority? And whose ethics does he represent?

  • 51.
  • At 09:06 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Duf Patrol wrote:

Right now there are no ethical stocks or funds, you just have to look at the compensation of CEO's and management, compared to the workers salary.

Workers are being exploited period. It shows society does not value work. As for ethical man, who's ethics was he trying to live up to.

As for carbon foot print, Carbon Dioxide is part of the earths atmosphere in a concentration of approximately 0.04%. So anyones foot print would be rather small. Unless industry is going to make a big change the ordinary citizen is like feeding a elephant peanuts in the whole scheme of things.

Also why is no one questioning the fact that scientist have discovered that global warming is taking place on Mars as well. Could this all be effect of the sun?

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