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January 19, 2007

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Lucy Bernholz

Yes, that's me - the high priest of jihad. The Christian Coalition and FOX watchers don't need me to encourage their investment screens. As you point out, they've got them. Its the "other sides" I care about - those who "give" progressively (or sort of) and invest - without considering their own values.

Shareholders have a lot of power. Big shareholders - e.g. all foundations, not just Gates - have a lot of power. Screening is one tactic, shareholder activism is another, PRIs (as you mentioned) are another. The issue is consistency, not evangelical closed-mindedness.

Gerry

Well, Phil is right that its good to hear this coming from someone who knows. What you do isn't what you are but is certainly is part of you. I work a more basic IT job by day, I study systems in all ways, scales, complexities, and what I really want to know is what makes stuff alive.

Many think the world is at a crisis point, I certainly do, and the critical changes necessary to change things have to do precisely what Lucy is pointing to, the control of decision in investments over the next few decades. If we don't start investing in doing things right, a lot of people will suffer unnecessarily, as they do now for all sorts of reasons.

We could invest in changing that instead. It is all about making choices, and showing people that their choices can make a difference, that they can choose in invest in production and consume products that are healthful and not hurtful to people but more importantly to the entire biosphere. We were given brains to be able to figure out how this stuff works before we cooked the planet. Time to get to in.

Phil

OK, to move to another point, Lucy, what did you make of the issue in the Gate's foundation policy statement of "results." They seemed to suggest that merely selling a stock would have little influence on the stock, or on the management. With big public companies, does a foundation's selling have any real effect? In other words does the strategy of disinvesting in a stock work? Is there data on that? Or, does a foundation do better to hold a concentrated position and to vote that position and use it for leverage with management?

I would be really interested in how foundations might, say, promote a more diverse and less commercial array of media. But I wonder how much effect buying or selling Viacom would have on that, either way. But lending foundation money to alternative media -- now that might have promise.

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