Am I an Evil Capitalist?

News headlines: Earthquake and Tsunami in the Pacific region.  Heard it on the news yesterday, half-heard it again today (just this minute checked – it seems there’s been another earthquake, bigger disaster than yesterday’s).

My reaction?  Well, “will this affect my asia-pacific investments?” did cross my mind.  Oops!  In my defence, it only crossed my mind about 24 hours after I first heard the news, and I haven’t checked my portfolio since thinking it.  And (barring the vanishingly unlikely event that it had hit my brother and sister-in-law in NZ without my having heard about it), this is my only link to the region.

But ultimately, this is surely the reaction of an Evil Capitalist!

I shall have to atone the Evil Capitalist way, with a contribution when the charity appeals come round.  Having received a small bonus in my August pay-packet, I had already budgeted that for charitable contributions, and this looks like a candidate for a Deserving Cause.

Posted on September 30, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. New Zealand had a tsunami warning, which caused much chaos and terror as you can see here. Really, the only people affected here were those with family or friends in Samoa or Tonga (which is quite a significant community hereabouts).

    The only people who seemed to have any sort of plan to deal with a tsunami were the police (who tried to warn people off the beaches), and some of the ports (who made an effort to get boats into sheltered areas). Lots of other “vital agencies” were pretty much shrugging their shoulders and saying “so what do you expect us to do about it then?”. Really, I can see their point.

  2. If you want to support a worthwhile charity that is supplying relief to the Tsunami victims, try Shelterbox. Based in Helston, Cornwall, they supply pre-packed boxes containing tents, cookers, water purification gear etc to provide emergency accommodation to victims of natural disasters. They are small, efficient and local, and are on the scene already.

    See: http://www.shelterbox.org

    John

  3. I wondered if I was an evil capitalist when buying stock in mining companies in Africa.

    On the other hand I took far more interest in events in the Congo when it affected my future well being directly. So in that sense small investments made me more aware of the difficulties facing the people who worked for the companies I owned stock in.

    That short term my investments might have done slightly better if Mugabe retained a stronger hold on power didn’t make me any more likely to do anything to support ZANU-PF.

    Evil capitalism starts when you put your future financial interest above the health, well being, or other legitimate concerns of the people who work for you, and actively make decisions that adversely affects others purely for profit. Until then you are just a capitalist. Of course companies make tough decisions, mining companies lay off miners when world commodity prices fall too low. They may give them terms of employment which are way below our expectations in the west, so there is a balancing act in these things. If you vote for what you think is the right, proper and sustainable way to conduct business your ethics are probably sound.

    I think apathetic capitalism may be a bigger problem, where small investors don’t take enough interest is what is done in their name. Mea culpa, but attending AGMs isn’t always practical especially for the sums of money I can afford to invest currently.

    Your reaction is I think rational. You don’t immediately know anyone affected so you aren’t aware of more urgent things to do, and it could affect your financial standing. I’d be more concerned for your moral welfare if you had stock in BAe Systems PLC.

    That said I wouldn’t want to discourage you from supporting Tsunami victims.

  4. Simon, let me reassure you, I wouldn’t touch BAe or its peers with a bargepole. I also let my principles rule out some other profitable sectors such as tobacco and oil companies, and pharma companies (the latter unless I find one that rules out torture as part of its business).

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