HB151: Stop playing on emotions; persuade with evidence of what could be

One of the elements of the HB 151 Iran divesment movement that drives me insane is how politicized and twisted the sponsors’ intentions come across in the media.

Pensions are immoral, retirees are immoral, anyone who doesn’t support HB 151 is immoral because otherwise, you are supporting Iran.

This is the same rhetoric used to tell me that I’m an anti-Semite because I don’t support the nuking and utter annhilation of every single human who has said anything ill of Israel or Jews.

Trust me, there are plenty of people I’d love to see neutralized or…”brought to justice.” But that is never my first, second, third or fourth line of attack.

In regard to HB 151, what I would find persuasive would be information like this, from Social Funds, which bills itself as “the largest personal finance site, devoted to socially responsible investing.”

Specifically, as this tool relates to HB 151, here’s what Josh Mandel and Shannon Jones should have been telling everyone, rather than you are immoral if you don’t support HB 151:

Public pension funds have embraced PRI [Principles of Responsible Investing]. Both CalSTRS and CalPERS helped with the drafting of PRI and were some of the first signers. The report “Responsible Investment in Focus: How leading public pension funds are meeting the challenge,” jointly prepared by The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and Asset Management Working Group (AMWG) was released April 2007. The report includes 15 case studies of pension funds, most of which are PRI signatories, and describes how pension funds are using strategies and activities from PRI.

Signatories can take advantage of the PRI Engagement Clearinghouse, a global forum for members to share information and resources on how to take action on ESG issues. This is the first time there was been a global arena for collaboration on company and industry-specific ESG issues. Signatories can also take part in the “PRI in Practice” implementation blog, an intranet that offers interviews on best practices and practical implementation advice.

Looking toward the future, PRI is working to support more signatories using the Clearinghouse. They are also encouraging more corporate pension funds and foundations to sign onto the Principles. Power indicated that the PRI Initiative is establishing a secretariat that will focus on signing up more investors from emerging markets.

The Principles may be voluntary, but by signing on, the PRI expects a true commitment to the Principles at every level of the investment company. The second year of PRI looks just as bright as its first. In July, the results of the first PRI Reporting and Assessment questionnaire will be available, another tool for investors to see the impact PRI has on their bottom line and the world at large.

Get your faces out of the limelight, get your heads out of the think tanks, look into the hearts of Ohioans and see what they really want: security, not scolding and a way to do the right thing that respects their individual rights.

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