I have a confession to make. As you can likely tell by reading my blog, I aim to take a contrarian approach to life in North America. I aim to expose the dark side of life here and all of its foibles.
But I am also a shareholder, mostly invested in index funds. I own stock in everything. I own the Alberta oil patch, and pieces of Chevron, Shell and BP. I own companies known for their association with dirty money and with criminal activity.
And I don’t give a fuck.
Let me provide some context here. If you were to ask me: do you agree that we should reduce dependence on oil, I would answer, “you’re dam straight: I have my consumption down to almost zero, and rely on my bike as my primary form of transportation.” If you were to ask me about the exploitation underway in Africa I would reply “it’s an affront to human dignity”, adding that I am well aware of the way the oil industry has literally robbed entire African nations of their resource wealth, leaving nothing but devastation in return.
But all that dissolves when I’m watching the stock ticker. As hypocritical as it sounds, when these figures tick up, I feel good.
Herein lies the fundamental problem with capitalism as it stands. It’s the disconnect. If people who bought clothes from Joe Fresh and Gap spent time in Bangladesh and met the victims of the building collapse in Rana Plaza, they would think twice about purchasing sweat shop clothes. If those who bought Nabob travelled to the fincas in Brazil and consorted with exploited coffee workers, they would likely refrain from drinking anything but Fair Trade coffee.
But North Americans are busy people, and we, too have limited resources (both time and money) to investigate every purchase we make, and stock we buy.
I’m not proposing a solution here. And I know a lot of people would argue this point, and say that we should recognize that spending a dollar is like voting for how you the believe the world could be.
But in the end, most of us- myself included- aim to buy low and don’t concern ourselves with the effects. It’s a tragedy, but a reality of the system that, like it or not, we are all a part of.
Now time for me to get back to my stocks- it appears that resources are posting a strong run on the day…