Economics as if Values Mattered
Beneath all of the embossed certificates, deposit books, and daily market reports, investments are human relationships. Capital, after all, represents labor and land, and whether it is accumulated from wages or donations, rents or product sales, inheritance or other unearned income, we might appropriately ask three questions: With whom are we called to enter into economic relationship? What is the purpose or intended product? Are the interests of the parties fairly balanced? In other words, who should have use of our money, and what should be their obligation to us and our claim upon them?
In the religious community in recent years, there has been steadily growing interest in "socially responsible investment." From the shareholder resolutions of the Sisters of Loretto (dubbed "The Stinging Nuns" by Time) against the health and safety practices of the Blue Diamond Coal Company, to the South Africa divestment campaigns, to various attempts at screening out weapons producers, major polluters, and alcohol and tobacco companies--and affirmatively selecting companies with fair labor practices or environmental sensitivity--hundreds of religious institutions and many parishioners are trying to integrate faith and finance.