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LARGE. SELECTION Or MARXIST POLITICAL & ECONOMIC Looking for a Montessori School in an old stone house in the country? .. . Cedar4 litotte,44ori School Oak Mill 288-1245 9704 Circle Drive 21/2 to 5 years e ogr atatatitta 4 El Azteca Restaurant Food With True Mexican Taste including Cabrito Mr. & Mrs. J. D. Guerra and family owners & operators 2600 E. 7th Austin 477-4701 Three Cheers for the Observer …and for all the faithful. IDA PRESS Multi copy service 901 W. 24th St. Austin 477-3641 But you are not supposed to be concerned about all that. The youngest heir and the oldest counsellor will tell you that what counts is to show a profit. Nothing else matters. Nothing else is even measured or counted. A few harried and reluctant universities may have sold out their Dow Chemical during the hurricane of the late Sixties. But no intelligent investment committee could conceive, then or now, of putting money in a firm that does not make a good return or promise growth. “Owners” are not expected to ask pointless questions about how the profit is turned and who else is getting a cut. Is there another way? I’m not referring to any distinction between conservative, blue-chip investing and risk capital. My question concerns the nature of ownership itself. How could Iinvest my money so as to establish accountability on both sides and further the honesty and decency my father and mother believed in? Is that so ridiculous a hope? Even if I threw everything into one small corporation producing sound goods under enlightened policies and at a reasonable profit, my paltry holdings would be no more than a drop in the ocean of its capital assets. One noisy stockholder may do more harm than good, though a few sturdy cranks have obtained small concessions. The only language is votes. And votes follow the single goal of making the best profit possible. If you want anything else from a company, give up and sell out. Against such odds, one is a fool to do anything but conform. I won’t accept that conclusion. We haven’t yet mobilized ourselves within the capitalist system. We remain enslaved by absentee ownership. It’s right here that my proposal comes, a proposal generally yawned at by investment counsellors and economists I have talked to. It would never get off the ground. Yet I refuse to give it up. For there must be others like me who accept a fiduciary responsibility for money that is legally theirs, but morally many people’sdead, living, unborn. Could not a group of dedicated and knowledgeable investors set up a mutual fund in the public interest? The purpose of such a fund would be twofold: to invest people’s money so as to preserve its value and if possible to turn a small profit; and to pool many small holdings in such a way as to gain a significant voice in the votes and policies of a few chosen corporations. I don’t imagine that many people would want to invest more than half their capital this way. But even at that rate, the sums could add up. This kind of mutual fund would consult its stockholders about how to vote its proxies and about policies to pursue. What are the issues? Not only directors and their salaries, plus such closely related matters as interlocking directorates, but also pricing, mergers, advertising, development, accounting procedures, corporate gifts, and a host of other sensitive questions that the ordinary shareholder is encouraged to consider none of his business. Stockholders, it is true, cannot manage; but they should oversee. Otherwise no one will, except the great unblinking Cyclops called Profit. A variation on the presumably private mutual fund scheme would be for a non-profit public interest group to serve as investment counsellor for persons wanting to invest their capital on a coordinated or cooperative basis. The public interest group would direct large blocks of investors into a few corporations, advise them how to vote their proxies, and even solicit votes from other stockholders. It really comes to this: must the profit motive be the only impelling force in our culture and economy? Is there no other basis for investing money? Investors of all sizes may cling fast to the old and seemingly proven system of using money only to produce more money. But unless I am deeply mistaken there are people of all ages, and particularly among the young, who could imagine things otherwise if offered the opportunity. Even foundations and institutions might find new ways of carrying out their responsibilities as major investors. The astonishing thing is that Ralph Nader’s groups and John Gardner’s Common Cause have not already developed such a plan. The profit motive may reign supreme, in part by default, until challenged by money itself, by our pooled resources. But investors remain worried, hesitant, unorganized. They would probably resist any kind of collective action, even on a small scale. Some believe that private gain is synonymous with public good. Some know better but see no course of action. Without some form of stockholding in the public interest we shall have failed our heritage. II. The most numerous and potentially the most powerful organized sector of the country is unionized labor. It seems to think and act in a manner just as self-serving as that of individual investors. Rarely has a union acted on any basis other than the direct benefit of its members. Should we expect more? Today we face a threat of inflation so devastating that none of us knows how it will finally affect us. Justified as it may be in the light of the rising cost of living, every strike adds to the forces that accelerate inflation. Is there no way of calling a halt somewhere to this vicious circle in which the sickness itself is cited as a justification for aggravating the sickness? Conceivably there is a way to start. It would require a degree of vision and leadership that one finds rarely in any domain. But the proposition is worth laying out and examining. As I see it, unions could negotiate and if necessary strike to establish a new principle. According to this principle, profits in