Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I was browsing on Yahoo! Finance recently when I came across an article critical of socially conscious investing. It belittled people for choosing a mutual fund company based on how it invests its money. I was interested because, for years, I have been putting a little money into Domini Social Equity Fund. It was one of the first investments I ever made, and it has performed fairly reliably for me.

The article in question quoted Nobel-Prize winning economist Milton Friedman as saying

There is one and only one social responsibility of business -- to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits, so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.

I totally agree. The way our economy has been set up, the only logical goal a corporation can have is returns to shareholders.

That's what is wrong with the way our economy has been set up. Pollute? Sure, if it's less expensive. Fire American workers and outsource jobs? If it's cheaper.

A corporation is amoral. It has to be. Thus, some governing factor has to put limits on the corporation, lest it wreak havoc in the name of efficiency.

Unfettered, laissez-faire capitalism as preached by the likes of Friedman will lead us (has been leading us) down a destructive path.

Isn't there more to progress than profits? I certainly hope so.

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