Monday, June 6, 2016

America’s Raw Story
9th Post

Investing in Death

There are roughly 15,000 publicly traded companies and countless millions of people who invest in them. Each of these companies belongs to an industry of companies in similar businesses. Three industries are the subject of this short article; the funeral service industry, the gun industry, and the war industry.

The first provides burial and crematory services and paraphernalia for people no longer living due to nonviolent domestic deaths. The second provides the means to cause violent domestic deaths. The third provides the means to murder people in foreign lands.

The first industry is tangential to the focal point off this article. The other two are the focal point. But to be true to the article’s catchall tile, I feel behooved to say something about investing in the first one, so I will start with it.

Investing in Death from Natural Causes

Funeral homes, crematoriums, and cemeteries, but excluding related costs such as headstones and crypts is a $15 billion a year industry in America. Almost gone are the days of small, family owned funeral homes. They are being gobbled up or swamped by funeral service corporations that promise investors healthy returns, at least if you buy one or more of the “six stocks to die for” as one authoritative source put it.

Investing in Death from Domestic Guns

It is said that Americans have had a love affair with guns and cars for a century. Until recently more people have died from car accidents than from guns. That apparently has changed and not surprisingly since there are more guns than cars in America.

Firearms’ makers and sellers tell investors and Wall Street that massive gun killings are a ripe opportunity for investors. The reason is simple. After a massive, homegrown slaughter the public panics and buys more guns.

Investing in Death by International Murder

Einstein called war an act of murder. I agree and would add that it’s an offensive act more so than a defensive act if you know the true history behind America’s endless wars since her founding. That’s why I call this industry the war industry, not the defense industry. The US government finally got smart and changed the name in 1949 from the Department of War to its current euphemism, the Department of Defense. But let’s not be fooled by our government that is always trying to fool us.

The war industry yields very good ROI’s (return on investments) if one is not squeamish or morally inhibited about investing in merchants of death. And thousands upon thousands of investors aren’t. A writer for Forbes magazine has given five reasons why other industrial sectors aren’t as good as the war industry; its stocks weather economic storms better; it dominates the market “selling Uncle Sam a billion dollars in goods and services every day, seven days a week;” it is “politically protected” (that’s an understatement); its oblivious to any “waning demand;” and its future prospects are more publicly known through news of any impending dips in the defense
budget and thus give cautious investors pause to reconsider” (when does that ever happen for more than blip of time?).

Protected Investors

We can partly blame the second and third industries’ investors for the consequences of their companies’ miscreant behavior but we can’t sue them for wrongful death and other damages. The reason why dates back over two centuries ago in America’s history when the first state in the union enacted a limited liability law and other states quickly followed suit in a race to the bottom. States initially gave their chartered corporations limited liability only if they provided public services, but with the advent of sham charters, any chartered corporation gets limited liability. That includes the chartered and insulated gun makers and sellers and war contractors.

The war contractors are also shielded from lawsuits for wrongful deaths for two reasons. The foreigners have no standing in our courts and our lawless, criminal, war perpetuating government makes murder by war legal.

Socially Responsible Investing: An Alternative for Morally Minded Investors?

One would think that out of 15,000 publicly traded companies there surely ought to be some socially responsible ones in which to invest. Well, name me one if you find a company that meets all of my seven criteria a company must meet in order to be rightly called socially responsible. A socially responsible company is one that 1) stays financially viable, 2) provides socially beneficial products and/or services, 3) without knowingly causing any physical, psychological, financial or ecological harm, 4) without externalizing costs (e.g., job outsourcing, waste disposal), 5) without seeking or depending on “warfare welfare” or other government favors such as corporate personhood recognition, campaign financing, lobbying, subsidies, revolving doors, laissez-faire regulations, or criminal immunity, 6) conducts business ethically and legally, and 7) treats all stakeholders fairly and with dignity.

The rationale for all but the first criteria is that they are hallmarks of the corpocracy, the Devil’s marriage between big corporations and government. The corpocracy is far more egregious than just being socially irresponsible. It is directly responsible for America being ranked the worst among industrialized nations on various measures such as income inequality and unemployment; for America being the most imperialistic and death dealing nation on the globe; and for America being vulnerable to continuous blowbacks from drone strikes and other forms of unending, devastating and deadly military aggression done solely for profit and power.

Closing Remarks

You know the old saying; “there are only two certainties in life, death and taxes.” I will add two more certainties; 1) America was born in the womb of war and will die in her arms unless the American people rise up to demand the end of the military/political/industrial complex; and 2) people who invest in the gun and war industries are as morally and socially irresponsible as people populating the complex and are not only investors in death but also accomplices of death by murder.   

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