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March 1, 2007 9:29 AM   Subscribe

AestheticallyUnappealingBedfellowsFilter: "George Soros initiated holdings in Oil Equipment & Services company Halliburton Co.. His purchase prices were between $27.62 and $33.53, with an estimated average price of $31.3. The impact to his portfolio due to this purchase was 2.02%. His holdings was 1,999,450 shares as of 12/31/2006. Halliburton Co. closed today at $30.05." Maybe he's 'culture jamming'? Might raise some amusing ethical conundra in any case.
posted by waxbanks (53 comments total)

 
How does owning (if I'm doing my calculations right) .2% of Halliburton's stock make someone a "bedfellow"?
posted by DU at 9:37 AM on March 1, 2007


Or perhaps he just wants to have a voice at the shareholders meetings.
posted by DreamerFi at 9:44 AM on March 1, 2007


I don't know how to interpret any of this, even after reading the articles posted.
posted by boo_radley at 9:46 AM on March 1, 2007


It was a neat trick to equate "progressive politics" with "billionaire financier." I love intellectual shorthand!
posted by solistrato at 9:51 AM on March 1, 2007


Halliburton is an oil services company. They help oil companies discover the oil fields, estimate the size of the oil reserve, and pick the best place and equipment to do the drilling for maximum oil recovery.

That's a legitimate business in general, and it happens in lots of places that aren't war zones. So I'm not sure what the point of this is.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:52 AM on March 1, 2007


George Soros is well-known for being both progressive and billionairesive.
posted by DU at 9:53 AM on March 1, 2007


How will this affect Cortex?
posted by Dizzy at 10:05 AM on March 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


ikkyu2 they do a lot more than what you've listed.

It just so happens that drilling for oil and such often occurs in places that are dangerous or logistically problematic or just a pain in the ass. Halliburton has developed services to deal with those issues. It turns out those services can also be offered to other entities such as UN peacekeepers and America's military. It seems to be the case that Halliburton may even be the preferred provider of those services and there seems to be some question as to why that is.

Additionally some people seem to be wondering why it is that Halliburton is doing so well providing these services. Past history indicates that the company as a whole has not behaved incredibly ethically and so, many conclude war profiteering is one of the pillars of the Halliburton business strategy. Others conclude that they should try to get a subcontract with Halliburton.
posted by BeReasonable at 10:12 AM on March 1, 2007


Personally I don't think it's possible to get that rich and maintain complete ethical consistency. Money is a dirty business. How many here can vouch that they approve of the practices of every business represented in their 401Ks or mutual funds?

As long as politics runs on money it will be dirty and dishonest and any person to whom ethical consistency and intellectual honesty are important will be forced to deal with either holding their noses and making decisions based on "lesser of evils" reasoning, or else opt for some more idealistic but much less likely to gain actual power minor party or independent candidate, basically spending their personal and political capital on a long and uncertain strategy (or an empty gesture, depending on how you see it).

It is worth pointing out that the fact that a person is to some degree a hypocrite has no bearing on the truthfulness or validity of the opinions they hold. So in the context of discourse on appropriate courses of action in society it is misdirection, plain and simple. Appropriate, perhaps, in discussing the fitness of an individual to hold an office (given their perceived honesty, consistency and judgment). Beyond that a convenient hook to smear by association.
posted by nanojath at 10:13 AM on March 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


n-jath---
I'd like to agree with you but I know some pretty shady poor people, too.
posted by Dizzy at 10:16 AM on March 1, 2007


I don't see much moral difference between taking some of Halliburton's billions (which they'll be making no matter who is in charge, since both parties are totally beholden to corporate interests) and putting them into the pockets of liberal think tanks and lobby groups rather than conservative ones. It always amuses me to see progressives who support capitalism on the one hand, but shrink from actually exploiting it to fund their kind of policy on the other. So long as liberals are still wringing their hands in front of the sink, muttering "capitalism is OK but money is dirty", they're not going to gain much ground against a conservative movement that has wholeheartedly embraced money and the power it brings. Either denounce capitalism or take it by the balls and use it!

As for Soros, he's definitely a very progressive and very generous man. Through his funding, he has done more for drug policy reform than just about anybody else in the last century. That's far from a politically safe thing to do -- try Googling "soros marijuana" sometime, and you'll see what I mean. The initiatives he's funded have accomplished so much that the Drug Czar has attacked him personally. I don't agree with some of his other pet projects, but you certainly can't call him a shrinking violet when it comes to putting his money where his mouth is!
posted by vorfeed at 10:26 AM on March 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, this is relevant. Where does it say how much his power bill was?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:43 AM on March 1, 2007


all his electricity is powered by slaves
posted by matteo at 10:48 AM on March 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think this is called 'hedging your bets', no?

He's trying to spend all his money to shut down the evil empire. If, despite his best efforts, the evil empire should remain successful and profitable, investing in said empire will give him more money to fight the empire.

Should he be successful, the price will continue to drop, and he can invest more and more until he owns it outright.
posted by empath at 10:48 AM on March 1, 2007


I'm pretty fucking liberal.

That said, I dumped a bunch of money into the oil industry once George Bush came into office. Am I a big hypocrite or am I just taking advantadge of a situation I no longer have any control over?
posted by slapshot57 at 10:49 AM on March 1, 2007


now you guys are all making excuses for Halliburton?

This is some kind of group-authored parody, right?

It always amuses me to see progressives who support capitalism on the one hand, but shrink from actually exploiting it to fund their kind of policy on the other

So "supporting capitalism" means you are compelled to invest in companies that do things you find morally repugnant? and if you look for companies that are both profitable and are decent corporate citizens you are what, supporting communism?

Like I said, this has got to be a joke everybody but me is in on.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:56 AM on March 1, 2007


all his electricity is powered by slaves
If you LIEberals understood the consequences of your actions he wouldn't have resorted to this. He had a perfectly good power generation scheme involving endangered species and a toxic chemical powered inferno.
posted by substrate at 11:00 AM on March 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


george soros has done a lot of good. so what if he's a billionaire. how do you think somebody gets to be a billionaire?

i call this post a bullshit smear.
posted by bruce at 11:00 AM on March 1, 2007


Teenage girls of MeFi will be dismayed to read in the article linked above that Soros has abandoned his investments in "Claire's." OMGWTF?! Why does the supposedly big-hearted philanthopist hate the costume jewelry of America so much, anyhow?
posted by aught at 11:12 AM on March 1, 2007


now you guys are all making excuses for Halliburton?

I don't see anyone making excuses for Halliburton. I see people making excuses for George Soros, and they're pretty level-headed ones.

Soros does not sit on Halliburton's board. He controls no relevant decision-making interest in the company. People are worried about investments in companies because of the potential impact they have on the company- for example, Rupert Murdoch with DirectTV or the majority owners of YouTube. If Soros has invested in Halliburton to the degree of having influence over it, I'd be thrilled. But he doesn't, so unlike the author of this piece I'll acknowledge it as a rich white dude owning stock in a company.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:14 AM on March 1, 2007


One more thought: it seems that the general attempt in these pieces is to suggest a conflict of interest. In other words, when a candidate owns stock in a chemical company it suggests a personal investment in not wanting legislation protecting the environment, and so forth. By that logic, you would have to suggest that George Soros is not genuine about his concern for progressive causes. As he is not running for office and that would only diminish the criticism against him from the right wing, I am struggling to see exactly what the crisis here is.

If right-wingers are suggesting that Soros might actually want Halliburton to be profitable, shouldn't that makes them happy? The fact that it clearly doesn't only exposes how this is a pointless "gotcha" smear like the one on Gore a few days ago.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:19 AM on March 1, 2007


Good point, XQ, and raises this point: If Soros' tiny involvement in Halliburton is supposed to taint him, how more should it be tainting the former CEO? Are the conservative Republicans who are likely behind this attack acknowledging that Cheney is very, very compromised?
posted by DU at 11:23 AM on March 1, 2007


So is this is a joke or a troll?

On the one hand, the headline reads like a joke about some of the idiot Wingnut blogs and their "exclusives." On the other hand, the post links to a site which lists Soros' 117 stocks and then links to another site calling Soros a hypocrite because one of those stocks is in a megacorporation that is piling up cash from sweet, sweet government war contracts for Big Dick Cheney's retirement.

Or maybe it's axe-grind-filter material ... ?
posted by moonbiter at 11:56 AM on March 1, 2007


I'd like to agree with you but I know some pretty shady poor people, too.

Dizzy, I didn't say it's not possible to be seriously unethical unless you're rich, I said it's not possible to be completely ethical and seriously rich.
posted by nanojath at 12:02 PM on March 1, 2007


Soros doens't actually run money himself anymore, so this whole argument is BS. Its some analyst who works for his sons who probably wanted to own the stock. Also HAL is in the process of selling Kellogg Brown & Root, the business they get so much negative attention for.
posted by JPD at 12:12 PM on March 1, 2007


It would be great if he could buy enough to stop them, but i'm sure evil folks like Cheney have the controlling interest.

That author forgot the most important (to the rightwing) and apparently pertinent fact about Soros--he's not just rich and powerful--he's a Jewish financier (Prager himself is Jewish, which makes these slurs even worse--count the number of times it's mentioned)
posted by amberglow at 12:18 PM on March 1, 2007


(it's been going on for years)
posted by amberglow at 12:23 PM on March 1, 2007


His purchase prices were between $27.62 and $33.53, with an estimated average price of $31.3. The impact to his portfolio due to this purchase was 2.02%. His holdings was 1,999,450 shares as of 12/31/2006. Halliburton Co. closed today at $30.05."

So according to this Soros bought at an average price of $31.30, and the price of Halliburton stock when the above piece was written was $30.05. That means when this piece was written Soros was down $1.25 a share. That's a loss of $2,499.312.

Dems funded by war profiteers!

To be a war profiteer, don't you have to make a profit?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:27 PM on March 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


So "supporting capitalism" means you are compelled to invest in companies that do things you find morally repugnant? and if you look for companies that are both profitable and are decent corporate citizens you are what, supporting communism?

It makes no sense to me to claim that capitalism itself is moral on the one hand, and then blame companies like Halliburton on the other. What companies like this are doing is sanctioned by capitalism. If you don't like private armies, back-room deals, and third-world exploitation, then it might be a good idea not to support an economic system that not only allows but encourages all of those things in the name of profit. And if you are going to support such a system, as most American "progressives" do, it's pointless to play shocked-and-dismayed when things like this happen. You want to make profit your god? Then you shouldn't be surprised when he starts smiting people, and you oughtn't be ashamed to be seen kneeling at the altar in public, either.

One could very easily argue that capitalism itself is repugnant... but if you're not making that argument, then I don't see much difference between buying stock in one multinational corporation over another. Liberals who avoid investing in these "morally repugnant" corps haven't put so much as a dent in their profits or behaviors by doing so. It's easy to see why: megacorporations are beholden to their stockholders, not a pack of hippies who don't buy any oil or private armies to begin with. This being so, if said hippies are both unwilling to denounce capitalism AND desirous of some standard of behavior on the part of capitalists, another tactic is obviously required. Given enough investment by principled people like Soros, perhaps being beholden to stockholders might take on a different meaning...
posted by vorfeed at 12:31 PM on March 1, 2007


Liberals who avoid investing in these "morally repugnant" corps haven't put so much as a dent in their profits or behaviors by doing so. It's easy to see why: megacorporations are beholden to their stockholders, not a pack of hippies who don't buy any oil or private armies to begin with.

Sort of, maybe. The real reason is market efficiency.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:01 PM on March 1, 2007


So is this is a joke or a troll?
For my part (I posted the articles), neither - I wondered whether Soros was investing 'ironically' (i.e. enjoying the idea of using Halliburton's shareholder payouts to fund strongly anti-administration projects), 'cynically' (i.e. not applying any political calculus at all, just the financial one), or accidentally (i.e. picking up Halliburton stock in passing, as it were). I wonder also whether the recipients of Soros's largesse took on any ethical obligations as regards the origin of his money.

I was hoping that someone other than the howler monkeys on the Right would have something to say about it, but I didn't see any online comments from the Lefticles, so I went with what I had. Momentary impulse and all.
posted by waxbanks at 1:05 PM on March 1, 2007


vorfeed, capitalism needn't be an all-or-nothing deal. Heavily-regulated capitalism, such as we had in this country in the middle third of the 20th century, can have more of the benefits and less of the detriments of the current kind of capitalism we practice now, which is more and more lassez-faire.

As far as Soros goes, the article is not very well written, but Soros is responsible for his actions, including what he buys. His moeny could be being lost on some more worthy cause than a company who requires that fossil fuels be burned in order to make its profits.
Right now, no one calls shareholders to account for the decisions the companies they own stock in make. But I see no reason why we shouldn't do that. So Soros isn't a hyopcrite for owning stock in Halliburton; he's just one of the many thousands of people at whose feet we can lay the blame for Halliburton's actions.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:05 PM on March 1, 2007


Soros is simply taking advantage of the market, which is what he does. He has always said that he would prefer a centralized government which regulated business more, but never stated that since lassez-faire is the current standard for free-market fundamentalists, he's not going to just sit and let someone else make all the money he sees waiting for him to pick up.

Honestly, he's an amazingly smart financier, and his economic theories hold a lot more water than most anyone elses, mostly because they fucking work, and work amazingly well. He knows that his wealth is built upon shorting currency markets and profitting when a country has to devalue it's currency. He knows that he really shouldn't be able to do this, but because governments and banks follow the scripture of free-markets are the be all end all, he has no obligation to just sit by and let some other lucky schmuck profit from an inherent flaw in the banking and currency markets. If governments and politicians continue to push for more and more "market efficiencies" they are simply playing into the spoilers hands. For every free-market, there is an opportunity to bluster and run. Hell, it's what spammers are currently doing with penny stocks. They wouldn't be doing it if it didn't work. And if it works with penny stocks, it will work with the DOW and NASDAQ. And if it works there, it will work with currency markets and capitol exchange markets. The further and further you get from a regulated market, the further and further you get from reprocussions from actions in that market.

But, you know, world economic theory is best left to the academics and theorists who want to remove all human motivation and irrationality from their equations. You know, because in a free market economy, all actors are rational actors (the first falacy of all economics).
posted by daq at 1:40 PM on March 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


vorfeed, capitalism needn't be an all-or-nothing deal. Heavily-regulated capitalism[...]

Halliburton's actions may or may not be sanctioned by this-or-that regulatory agency, but they're still sanctioned by capitalism itself. A society that casts moral judgments after choosing to support an inherently amoral economic system seems a bit backwards, if not hypocritical.

At any rate, capitalism is an increasingly all-or-nothing deal right now... and like I said, most Americans are just fine with that, including the so-called progressives. Therefore, I don't buy the idea that corporations (or their stockholders) are to blame for breaking moral rules that our society doesn't actually have to begin with. All they're doing is living down to our expectations. Hell, when you look clearly at American culture, there's practically a moral mandate for this sort of profit-first behavior.
posted by vorfeed at 1:46 PM on March 1, 2007


I too made some little bit of profit from Halliburton stock last year, which I owned indirectly and briefly through an ETF. Does this mean I get to call myself a "war profiteer" now?
posted by sfenders at 2:00 PM on March 1, 2007


“Beyond that a convenient hook to smear by association.” -posted by nanojath

Well said. Not a big Soros fan m’self. But the argument ultimately devolves into “well, your guy is a dick too” with the core assertion being the tautology of winning - that is - since everyone is covered in excrement, the one who shovels it the most efficiently is ‘smarter’ and a ‘winner.’ Those who fail are not morally superior (’cause they use the same tactics according to the assertion) but merely inferior in doing what needs to be done in the “real world” and other such platitudes.

I find it odd that self-labeled “conservatives” often peddle this nonsense. It’s moral relativisim at its worst. Soros could be some diabolic charactature bent on world domination - it doesn’t invalidate some of the principles he’s expressed.
Indeed, Jefferson often spoke of freedom and individual liberty, yet he owned slaves.
And I agree with what you said - the failings of a man do not belie the truth of his principles.
In contrast, Rush Limbaugh could possess the noblest of character, but little of what he has said is cogent much less true.

“how do you think somebody gets to be a billionaire?”

I agree with nanojath, - easier for a camel to pass through an eye of a needle and all that. I wouldn’t indict capitalism based on that however. The last thing the government needs to be involved in is saving someone’s soul or regulating individual ethical behavior (outside where it intrudes on someone else’s rights of course).
And the rapacious activity currently going on in the multinationals isn’t exactly the free market at work.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:07 PM on March 1, 2007


A society that casts moral judgments after choosing to support an inherently amoral economic system seems a bit backwards, if not hypocritical.

I'm confused by this statement (and please do not take what follows as being sarcastic or bait but an honest intellectual analogy):

If I have a baseball bat and use it for an immoral action (let's define it as say, breaking knee-caps of babies for my own pleasure) I do not find it hypocritical to condemn such behavior. The baseball bat in itself is an amoral object that may be used in any way we see fit.

Capitalism has its failings, most clearly seen in the Robber Baron years of capitalism two centuries ago. All economic systems have their failings but it appears that capitalism is the most fair. While this may simply be survivorship bias, we have numerous instances of centrally controlled economies being inefficient and detrimental to the whole.

Capitalism is not the end all of economic systems, I assume that there will be another way to distribute capital that is more fair and more just ... but as it stands capitalism is the best so far. It has increased the standard of living by all accounts in countries it is introduced to. Its lack of central authority has allowed, most importantly, a large divide between politics and the economy allowing democracy to thrive (which has its faults, and is often very slow to react, but does trend toward being just).

There are problems at the extremes, and demanding that those extremes act morally due to randomness of the economic system is not hypocritical. I hate to trot out Warren Buffet, but it shows that with discipline one who happens obtain large amounts of wealth does not always corrupt. There are divides and those on the one extreme happen to live very different and very privileged lives than those on the other extreme (and I would argue that it would be near impossible for a boy in rural Thailand would rise to become a George Soros).

Now capitalism does have the tendency to create a large, comfortable middle class that happens to delve into nihilism and materialism. I find these problems, while important to address, as relatively existential in nature. These are problems that have generally, throughout history, been confined to aristocratic or professional classes that were much more scant than today. It is a problem Nietzsche warned of and seems eerily prophetic.

Whatever the case I would find these failings as less than those faced, as a whole, with feudalism, mercantilism and communism.

There is no Platonic economic system, and to paraphrase the famous quote "progress in economic systems is a progression of funerals".
posted by geoff. at 2:40 PM on March 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


This really is an aesthetic issue, though I imagine the word was used ironically in the post. It's a question of what we expect and desire from our politics: the messiness and ambiguity revealed by Soros's investments clashes with the pretty blacks and whites we like from our politics.
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:44 PM on March 1, 2007


geoff: Now capitalism does have the tendency to create a large, comfortable middle class that happens to delve into nihilism and materialism. I find these problems, while important to address, as relatively existential in nature.

That's really your best example of the failings of the various forms of capitalism? The one you choose to use as a symbolic representation of everything that's wrong with it, in passing judgment upon today's global economic order? No doubt it is an interesting problem, though the extent to which it can be blamed on capitalism is questionable, and perhaps it is the one which applies most directly to you. But it seems a long way from the most pressing problems of the world that might reasonably be thought to be side-effects of capitalism. Mercantilism, incidentally, was a form of "capitalism" in the broad sense you must be using that word to leave such a short list of alternatives.

eustacescrubb: Right now, no one calls shareholders to account for the decisions the companies they own stock in make. But I see no reason why we shouldn't do that.

Seems to me that it's not so easy. People should be accountable for decisions they make themselves. If your proposed method for holding all shareholders accountable for the actions of the corporate entity they notionally own involves somehow granting them more direct control over its actions, let's hear it. Seems to me that employees of the company profit much more directly from its actions. And of course their actions actually benefit the company (usually), while buying shares does almost exactly nothing for it. So is the janitor at Halliburton's head office also going to be held responsible for the decisions of its directors? Just wondering.

Try as I might, I can't seem to see how it was any moral failing of mine to take some profit out of trading Halliburton's stock, at least not any more than doing so with any other security. Even if it hadn't been accidental. Investing money is more or less a requirement of getting by comfortably in this economic system. For better or worse, it is not at all practical to do so effectively while having to inspect and approve of all the business practices of every company you might want to temporarily own a tiny part of. Particularly if you want to put money in an index fund, for example. It's just the flip side of Marx's "alienation of labour."
posted by sfenders at 3:37 PM on March 1, 2007


There are a lot of morally bankrupt people on this thread.

Folks, Halliburton has massively profiteered from this war -- they've done things like set fire to trucks with flat tires so we the people have to pay to replace them at $85,000 a pop and run empty trucks around Iraq so the drivers are exposed to danger and we the people pay at $10,000 a pop.

They contracted to fix New Orleans, but they've taken hundreds of millions and accomplished basically nothing; they also have a dire reputation for not paying their labour.

You canNOT say, "Oh, it makes no difference, they are profitable."

Soros sets himself up as morally superior because of his social conscience -- if this is just an investment purchase, it's wrong.

That said, Soros has decent cred. with me. I do wonder if this is a ploy to get transparency and accountability from one of America's most rapacious and dishonest companies.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:38 PM on March 1, 2007


"If your proposed method for holding all shareholders accountable for the actions of the corporate entity they notionally own involves somehow granting them more direct control over its actions, let's hear it."

This is a morally bankrupt attitude.

As a shareholder, you bear moral responsibility for the actions of the companies that you are a partial owner of. If you don't like it, you can sell your shares, even if you have no other control over the company.

To claim that you have no responsibility is bullshit sophistry.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:40 PM on March 1, 2007


... Not that I've actually read Marx. Checking out his wikipedia entry, I see he probably thought of all that:

"The propertied class and the class of the proletariat present the same human self-estrangement. But the former class feels at ease and strengthened in this self-estrangement, it recognizes estrangement as its own power and has in it the semblance of a human existence."

Soros must be about as far removed as one can get, without entirely losing the thread, from the origins of that bit of his fortune that's derived from the actions of some Halliburton grunt in Iraq. I wonder if it makes him feel alienated.

lupus: As a shareholder, you bear moral responsibility for the actions of the companies that you are a partial owner of.

I could perhaps buy the argument that as a shareholder* I would have some extra moral incentive to do anything reasonably within my power to stop the company doing something bad. Lucky for me, I have so little capital that my obligations in this regard would be very limited. But again, just to be clear -- you'd also be saying to every employee "If you don't like it, you can quit your job" right? And you also realize that practically every pension fund owns some share of Halliburton? Does responsibility extend to people with assets in those as well?

*disclosure: I'm not, at the moment, holding any shares of any companies that are doing anything particularly bad that I'm aware of.
posted by sfenders at 3:55 PM on March 1, 2007


I would really encourage you to read Marx (or really, Saint-Simon -> Rousseau -> Hegel -> Young Hegelians including Marx). The problem with Wikipedia snippets, and you haven't read Marx so you can't be blamed, is that a lot of times he really speaks to the 19th century European reader.
posted by geoff. at 4:26 PM on March 1, 2007


Flip Rousseau and Saint-Simon
posted by geoff. at 4:27 PM on March 1, 2007


I've figured that ideally, when people agree that something is a moral responsibility, it is translated into law. Obviously, shareholder responsibility is an exception.
posted by Anything at 4:40 PM on March 1, 2007


Thanks geoff. Though based on my distant memories of their works from Philosophy 101, Rousseau and Hegel are quite a long way down my list of things to read. Nietzsche was much more fun.
posted by sfenders at 4:51 PM on March 1, 2007


"But again, just to be clear -- you'd also be saying to every employee "If you don't like it, you can quit your job" right?"

Are you honestly suggesting it's OK to do evil things if you get paid for them?

If you were working for a company that suddenly became evil, I can see some practical considerations that might make it difficult to quit immediately. Halliburton has been evil for a very long time.


"And you also realize that practically every pension fund owns some share of Halliburton? Does responsibility extend to people with assets in those as well?"

Yes, it absolutely fucking does extend to people with assets in pension funds that own Halliburton. And before you go on with "well, what about a guy who has $2K in a pension plan and 0.1% of that is Halliburton and blah blah", of course there are relative levels: but Soros has 30 million reasons to be ashamed of this purchase (assuming that he's not doing it for some other reason that's good for the world).

Perhaps you don't remember, but one of the contributory factors in the fall of apartheid was when many pension funds divested themselves of their South African holdings for precisely this reason.


Oh, and slapshot57: "That said, I dumped a bunch of money into the oil industry once George Bush came into office. Am I a big hypocrite or am I just taking advantadge of a situation I no longer have any control over?"

Yes, you are definitely one great big hypocrite, completely lacking in a moral compass. Yes, you should be ashamed of yourself.


What the fuck is wrong with you people? Is the concept of "moral responsibility" so alien to you? If the owners and employees of a company don't bear moral responsibility for its actions, who does?

The whole idea that you can work for a company or own a part of a company yet somehow be utterly free of the moral consequences of that company's actions is responsible for a lot of the evil in America today.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:16 PM on March 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Repeat after me "Soros Fund Management owns the stock not George Soros. George Soros is no longer actively involved in the fund"

Seriously this is like looking at a stock Fidelity owns and assuming there is some statement or view of the Johnson family behind it.
posted by JPD at 7:42 PM on March 1, 2007


If the owners and employees of a company don't bear moral responsibility for its actions, who does?

The people who actually take those actions?
posted by sfenders at 8:06 PM on March 1, 2007


I suspect these "moral compromise!!11!" posts are part of a loosely-coordinated (ie. in the same style as "talking points") plan to manipulate the general public's ability to think rationally.

It is in the best interests of the corrupt and dishonest to make us distrust all politicians: it levels the playing field. And because the corrupt and dishonest will spin any lie you care to hear, a level playing field makes it possible for them to win against those who are true and just.

Rove's probably behind it all.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:02 PM on March 1, 2007


The baseball bat in itself is an amoral object that may be used in any way we see fit.

Except that capitalism isn't just an object. It's a system with certain rules. Capitalism cannot be used in any way we see fit, and still remain capitalism. For instance, if we were to move the emphasis from capital to land, you'd have something more like feudalism. If we were to move the emphasis from capital to human labor, we'd have something like socialism or communism. There are values associated with each of these choices, and what I'm trying to say is that the one most associated with capitalism (profit) is not a moral value. It's an amoral, purely utilitarian value. This is one of the reasons why we generally consider the morality of capitalist actions only AFTER we consider their profit, not before or during. There's a good example of this in the thread: "both profitable and are decent corporate citizens", indeed.

It is possible to form an economic system that explicitly takes morality into account; not doing so means, in my opinion, that we shouldn't be surprised when our system acts amorally. We designed it that way!

we have numerous instances of centrally controlled economies being inefficient and detrimental to the whole.

By numerous you mean how many? Five? Maybe ten? Pretty much the whole of post-agricultural human history took place under centrally controlled distribution systems of one type or another, from the tribal or village chief all the way up to the king or emperor. And these systems weren't just somewhat efficient and good for the whole, they were so much so that humanity spread throughout the entire planet. In comparison, capitalism is still a very new idea. It doesn't make much sense to crown it before it even starts to crawl! We may very well look back on capitalism and democracy as a brief period of madness between empires...
posted by vorfeed at 11:30 PM on March 1, 2007


JPD: Does George Soros still recieve income or any other kind of money from Soros Fund Management?

It is possible to form an economic system that explicitly takes morality into account; not doing so means, in my opinion, that we shouldn't be surprised when our system acts amorally. We designed it that way!

I have to say, I do agree with this, but who's acting surprised? My general reaction to this info about Soros was something along the lines of well, something like this was bound to surface sooner or later.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:35 AM on March 2, 2007


Soros is a lunatic. You know I'm right.
posted by tadellin at 6:20 AM on March 2, 2007


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