The Art Of Using Other People’s Money To Look Virtuous
Suppose your extended family hires somebody to manage their retirement money. They tell the manager his only job is to manage the investments wisely. “This is our retirement money. Be careful with it. Try to make it grow as much as possible. Without taking stupid risks.”
He invests your money in many stocks and bonds. And he does a fairly good job. But in one report he declares he sold all your investments in tobacco companies. And in Coca Cola and snack companies. And in McDonalds. “The products from these companies are bad for our health,” he tells you. “My son has diabetes. My aunt has lung cancer. I just cannot bear to invest in these companies.”
Suppose in the next report he says “I’ve sold all your stocks and bonds from oil and gas companies. And pipeline companies. Because they deal with fossil fuels. Fossil fuels contribute to global warming. I am a big-time green guy. It is sinful to me to invest in those companies.”
At your next family meeting Uncle Fred confronts the manager. “Where the hell do you get off? You are using OUR money to make YOUR political statements. Your job is to grow our retirement assets. Period. We did not hire you to express yourself with our money.”
Do you think maybe Uncle Fred makes a good point?
A lot of politicians do just what that manager does. They use other people’s money to grandstand. To posture. To champion causes in ways that make them look good.
Take New York City’s pension funds. The pols have withdrawn $5 billion from stocks and bonds of oil and gas companies. And from stocks of other companies in the big fossil fuel industry. The pols of San Francisco, Berkeley, Madison and many other cities have done the same.
There is a village near me whose mayor dumped oil and gas stocks from the village’s pension fund. Why? Because he is a passionate anti-fossil fuel guy.
Meanwhile, managers of investments for many companies and pension funds have followed suit. They caved to pressure from Greens. Greens who campaign to “Keep it in the ground.”
(Used to be these Greens’ reasons were because we were running out of oil and gas. Guaranteed, they assured us. Well, frackers proved them to be idiots. They proved that the “Peak Oil” concept was ridiculous. So Greens chose a new reason for keeping oil and gas in the ground. They cause global warming.)
I’m with Uncle Fred. Where the hell do the pols get off? Their job is supposed to be to manage other people’s retirement monies. To get the best return. It is not their job to use those monies to express their political and environmental wishes.
A lot of studies show that such shenanigans reduce the returns of pension investments. Because they take the pension funds out of a large and profitable sector of the economy.
Uncle Fred’s main point is that “This money is ours. Not yours. Express yourself with your money.”
He has another point: “A lot of us don’t believe we’re due to snuff it, thanks to fossil fuels. We believe fossil fuels have lifted billions from horrible living conditions.”
Uncle Fred could also ask what these Greens want the world to use to replace fossil fuels. Hydro-power? Well, no, we can’t be damming up any more rivers.
Nuclear? Horrors, no!
How about tidal-power? The world gets one-third of one percent of its power from tidal action. Little wow. That is like using a desk fan to cool a gymnasium.
Biomass? You know, corn and trees and brush? Uhhh…when we burn those we pump out more of that evil CO2. How about wood, dung and cardboard? That’s what the poorest of the poor burn for energy. The pollution they cause kills a few million every year.
But there is always solar and wind power. Let us dump those nasty fossil fuels and rely on solar and wind. Would you like to guess how much of the world’s energy comes from those two? Less than 1 percent. Suppose all the countries in the world keep their treaty promises. By 2040, solar and wind will be up to 3.6 percent.
When pols turn away from fossil fuel investments they are irresponsible. They are not using common sense. That is, common sense as regards investing.
Worse, far worse, is that they use other people’s money to make their statements. To posture for votes or for popularity.
The world is not running out of fossil fuels. Nor is it running out of pols who love to express themselves with other people’s money. As for keeping anything in the ground, that is where these pols have stuck their heads.
From Tom…as in Morgan.
Find Tom on Facebook. You can write to Tom at email@example.com.