Ethical investing? It’s not in our best interests.

I just wanted to alert people to a crucial question coming up for American Funds (the investment company). There’s a proposal on the table for this year’s board meeting and members are, of course, voting on the proposal. It’s known as Question 8.

The basic issue is that American Funds invests heavily in companies that are the major business partners and suppliers of genocidal governments like Sudan and North Korea. The proposal is to divest American Funds of any holdings with strong or direct links to these types of genocidal practices.

Unfortunately, American Funds’ board is unanimously against the proposal because they think it’s in their and their shareholders’ best interests to, well, make more money instead of being ethical. I’ve been trying to find a gracious way of putting it, but I don’t see much way around it. I don’t buy the slippery slope argument that “if we divest of a company that is the major supplier of fuel or weapons to a genocidal government, then where do you stop?” Please. To balk at stopping support for genocide because you’re afraid down the road someone might ask you to not support something you genuinely believe in is like saying “if they make a law against selling firearms to known criminals, they might one day take away my hunting rifle.” It’s saying, “We’d prefer to live in High Profit Land and pretend discernment can never be exercised because we might have to involve our consciences in what we’re doing instead of just our accounting degrees.”

I own a fair amount of AmFunds mutual fund stock. And I voted for Question 8 against their recommendation. But I was very distressed to see how they worded the question on the ballot. “To consider a proposal submitted by shareholders of certain funds, all as more fully described in the proxy statement.” Does that tell you the proposal is about “genocide-free investing”? Come on. Not only is AmFunds’s board totally against Question 8, they’re actively obfuscating the issue for the common shareholder.

Please, American Funds, I’ll take the lower profits in exchange for saving lives. I don’t want the money made at the end of a trail that starts with rape and murder. If you won’t be ethical, I can’t continue to invest with you.

If you do own AmFunds stock, be sure to vote FOR question 8 on your ballot. The shareholder meeting is November 24th, but the board is free to choose against the shareholders after the meeting, so putting pressure on American Funds is perfectly valid year-round. So in that spirit, whether you own AmFunds shares or not, you can send an email to them letting them know what you think. To send emails, click here if you own American Funds shares. Click here if you don’t.

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