Friday, July 10, 2009

investors against genocide

at our latest amnesty international meeting here in madison, eric cohen, a co-founder of the group, spoke to us. apparently they are able to exert moral pressure through New Deal-era financial regulations, requiring companies and mutual funds to allow shareholders to present proposals for a vote. in other countries these laws don't exist, so what they are doing here is not possible. what they are doing is looking for volunteers who are investors in mutual funds (at least 2,000 dollars) to submit an IAG proposal in their name calling on the company to divest from companies that support genocide.

their specific targets are the big 3 mutual funds, vanguard, fidelity, and american funds, which invest heavily in sinopec and another chinese oil company. these two companies fund the sudanese government. they have so far refused to divest, though some smaller ones have. votes have gotten up to 30 percent support, which is pretty good considering most people don't even read proposals, just ignore them.

i am not sure i agree with the use of the word "genocide," but i do agree that government ought to come under pressure for it's brutal, rather one-sided civil war.

i am surprised to find that with all the publicity about darfur, these mainstream companies are so blithely invested in these blood-drenched oil companies. their response to calls to divest are that they are "legally obligated" to find the maximum return to investors. legally obligated? wow. so if they divest from genocide-enablers, they are liable to lawsuits?

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