Saturday, 22 October 2011

So, where does YOUR money go?

It was when I was at theological college that I first met my fellow student and now friend and fellow minister Angela Steele. One of our tasks was to preach at a combined staff and student’s service. Her first line when she did is still with me. “Do you know where your pension funds are invested and how that money is used? Is it invested in ethical companies or those that abuse others in some way for your future income?” The point she made was that where we spend and invest our money is actually a large part of our faith.

It was a lesson that I have tried to live up to, so... do YOU know what the organisations YOU spend or invest your money with do with it, are they involved in exploitation and are they as environmentally sound as they claim?

Is it invested in companies such as Caterpillar Inc? They are a multinational company involved in earth moving equipment, they also make the large armoured bulldozers that the Israelis use to bulldoze homes in the Palestinian areas, and they made the one that killed US peace activist Rachel Corrie. OK, so perhaps you do not have any investments in Caterpillar Inc, but Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Waitrose all openly sell settlement produce from land the Palestinians’ were forcibly removed from, the very thing that Rachel was trying to stop.

How about buying that chocolate bar with the ‘Fairtrade’ mark? Think first, because ‘Greenwash’ abounds! For example That Kit-Kat bar with the Fairtrade logo is a Nestle production; a company that is supplied by companies involved in Rain Forest destruction, operates in several tax havens and with several oppressive regimes and is involved in political lobbying and mis-promotes baby milk.

The Canadian Tar Sands project is an environmental disaster in the making, This huge project has investors from many countries, including a large stake, invested by a company called Husky Energy. They posses around 511,000 acres of tar sands leases and have a 50/50 partnership agreement with BP for a 50/50 to develop the tar sands project.

Husky Energy is owned by Hong Kong based Hutchison Whampoa, a multi-national company with operations in 55 countries across the globe and a turnover of around £31,034.9 million per year. In the UK Hutchison Whampoa own Superdrug!

VW... Now they make environmentally sound car... or do they? The latest UK TV ads show a range of cars (at times informing the viewer that at the bottom of the screen that some of these are only available in left-hand drive, we use right-hand drive in the UK!) including concept cars with images of wind farms in the background and saying that an electric car is planned for production in the near future. What VW don’t tell you is that it's lobbying against climate change laws, funding lobbying groups to the tune of millions of Euros to stop Europe reducing its Greenhouse Gas emissions from 20% to 30% by 2020.

Do you spread Flora on your bread? If so then remember that the company that produces it, Unilever, test products on animals, lobbies politically, promotes Geneticall Modified food, uses factory farmed eggs and meat and operates in several tax havens and with several oppressive regimes.

The safest way to make sure that others do not profit from your spendong power is to buy locally produced items whenever possible and check where your pension funds are being invested. Someone some where profited from the death of my fellow Christian Rachel Corrie.

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