Friday, October 14, 2022

Investing in your retirement and other boring topics

I got a late start in preparing for retirement. I was in my mid-40s with a full time tenure track job at Ohio State University and a put and take savings account. When I read the pension forms that came with all the other forms I might as well have been reading Russian, Распишитесь, пожалуйста. I began reading the Wall St. Journal--which was delivered to the Veterinary Medicine Library. I was trying to figure out the difference between a stock and a bond, learning about long term gains, what is a mutual fund, figuring out defined benefit and tax deferred annuities. And I'd call my Dad or talk to my brother who was a stock broker. We still made horrible mistakes by anyone's gauge of naivete.
But early on I know I decided I didn't like certain stocks, and that some investments weren't worth the return because they were in violation of my core beliefs. I didn't know what it was called but I wouldn't invest in tobacco, alcohol, certain food, health and beauty products (animal testing), and viaticals (insurance plan cash out, like for people with AIDS). Eventually, because large corporations eat up smaller ones, if I liked a snack product it later would be owned by a tobacco company (R.J. Reynolds and Nabisco or Philip Morris and Kraft). And then that group would split or merge into an even larger blob. But still, for awhile I could feel smug and self-righteous--I was a Democrat then and that's what they do.
That's the principle when talking people into accepting ESG--environmental, social and governance investing. Most of us do want to be moral, upright and kind to the poor and patriotic. The rub is who gets to decide, and who is pushing this? At this point in our history, the left is moving from the locker room pep talk to a full court press. This is how a Republican study committee looks at ESG:
"A small handful of leftist bureaucrats and board members are behind ESG. Americans never voted for it, but ESG is still making the entire country poorer, more reliant on foreign oil, and less free. ESG is a cornerstone of Democrats’ Green New Deal agenda and one of the most serious long-term threats to energy independence and Americans’ pocketbooks. The Republican Study Committee will push to make combatting ESG a priority after 2022."
In other words, we won't be able to make the choices and mistakes I made in the 1980s about what values and products I wanted to take care of me in my old age. However, if you google, bing, brave or duck-duck-go the term ESG, you'll find several pages of only the most wonderful, positive and downright religious sounding explanation. But if you start or own a company, you won't be able to invest, expand or even use a bank to pay your employees if you don't meet the government (or United Nation's) ESG goals for climate, equity, sustainability (never defined), science, gender, guns, abortion, etc.

And as far as retirement goals? Nothing has hurt us as badly as Biden's inflation and killer green economy, or helped us as much as Trump's Make America Great Again ambitious plan.

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