Acton Institute Powerblog

ICCR: There Will Be Blood?

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Earlier this month, the Fairfield Mirror reported on a speech given at Fairfield University in Connecticut:

Many consumers are content in turning a blind eye to the injustices that save them cents on their dollars. While it may be challenging to understand the social responsibilities that affect the world’s most powerful corporations, one group of investors is constantly directing these corporations to increase their social responsibility: the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

Senior economics major Arturo Jaras Watts and Fairfield University’s Proactive Investment Club organized an event on Nov. 6 to explain how to invoke social justice in corporations through financial investment. The lecture was open to all but was mostly attended by economic and business majors.

Patricia A. Daly headlined the event at this Jesuit school. Sr. Daly, readers will recall, is executive director of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, billed on its website as “an alliance of Roman Catholic institutional investors primarily located throughout the New York metropolitan area” and “the largest regional member of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR).”

The Mirror quotes Daly:

[F]eatured speaker Patricia A. Daly knows the consequences that can come from certain companies’ financial choices.

She believes investors must know who they are investing in.

‘If you’re not engaged, then you might as well sell the stock if it’s really a problem … If it’s making money, then that’s blood on your hands,’ she said.

Blood? One might buy such an argument if applied to such admirable ICCR initiatives exposing and eliminating human trafficking, but the Mirror article fails to mention the plethora of ICCR shareholder resolutions pertaining to imagined rather than real-world ignominies. Among the long list of activist causes ICCR inflicts on corporate boardrooms across the United States are labeling genetically modified foods, hindering/limiting hydraulic fracturing and – the latest obsession of the left – forcing companies to disclose political contributions and financial donations to nonprofit organizations as an end-run to circumvent Citizens United.

The only blood spilled in this latter instance would belong to the companies losing their voice in the political process because ICCR and its cronies on the religious left have cut out their tongues. As noted by my friend and former Mackinac Center for Public Policy co-worker Jack McHugh:

To be fair, there are legitimate concerns about the potential corrupting effect of money in politics. While contribution caps and donor disclosure laws may seem effective ways to mitigate the risks, the record shows they are not. Even as political speech restrictions have grown more pervasive, their main proponents routinely release reports with headlines like this: ‘Record spending, diminishing accountability in (insert year) Michigan state campaigns.’

In other words, their preferred solution doesn’t work. There is in fact only one way to reduce the influence of money in politics — scale back the size and scope of government. As big government intrudes ever more deeply into the economy and citizens’ lives, the need to seek redress of grievances, and the value of seeking special favors, increases apace.

Scale back government or demand more accountability from it? That doesn’t sound at all like something ICCR would advocate. Instead, ICCR and Sr. Daly promote ever-larger government intervention in the corporate world while simultaneously campaigning for reduced representation of business in the political process. Of course, anti-business activist groups of every stripe, well-funded labor unions with massive political lobbying arms and, yes, the religious left, would continue to have unfettered access to this political process. How does that benefit workers, owners and shareholders? The only figurative bloodied hands in this scenario belong to the Macbeths of ICCR who work steadfastly to stifle corporate speech.

 

 

Bruce Edward Walker has more than 30 years’ writing and editing experience in a variety of publishing areas, including reference books, newspapers, magazines, media relations and corporate speeches. Much of this material involved research on water rights, land use, alternative-technology vehicles and other environmental issues, but Walker has also written extensively on nonscientific subjects, having produced six titles in Wiley Publishing’s CliffsNotes series, including study guides for "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest." He has also authored more than 100 critical biographies of authors and musicians for Gale Research's Contemporary Literary Criticism and Contemporary Musicians reference-book series. Most recently, he was managing editor of The Heartland Institute's InfoTech & Telecom News. Prior to that, he was manager of communications for the Mackinac Center's Property Rights Network. He also served from 2006-2007 as editor of Michigan Science, a quarterly Mackinac Center publication. Walker has served as an adjunct professor of literature and academic writing at University of Detroit Mercy. For the past three years, he has authored a weekly column for the mid-Michigan Morning Sun newspaper. Walker holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University. He is the father of two daughters and currently lives in Midland, Mich., with his wife Katherine.

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