I am, to the best of my abilities, divesting myself of fossil-fuels, monetarily. I don’t have any money invested anywhere (or much full stop), but that doesn’t mean that what little money I do have can be used by others for ill.
So far I have cancelled my bank accounts at Halifax, Natwest and Lloyds (which is particularly bad), and moved completely over to The Co-Operative, which is the only high-street bank which has an explicit policy of not investing money in “any business or organisation whose core activity contributes to global climate change”.
The next step is to check what USS invests its money in, and remove any of mine which is supporting malign corporate interests.
I am more-or-less following The Guardian’s ongoing series on personal divestment.
Today I read two letters written by companies which impressed me.
The first is by Kickstarter. Some asshole was trying to raise money to produce a "seduction guidebook" which advocated sexual assault of women, and though many people asked Kickstarter to cancel the project before the funding period completed, they didn't. Then today they wrote a (seemingly) sincere letter of apology to their users, and by way of compensation have donated $25,000 to RAINN, an anti-sexual assault organisation.
While Kickstarter definitely made the wrong call, I am convinced that they truly regret it and intend not to let it happen again.
The second is a letter from The Fullbright Company, which is a four-person game development studio who are almost done with their first game Gone Home (which I've been looking forward to). Today they wrote an open letter announcing their pulling-out of exhibiting their pending game at the PAX Indie Megabooth, an indie games showcase at a games expo organised by the Penny Arcade organisation. Their choice, which is not in their material interest, is based on Penny Arcade creators' recent misogynistic, transphobic and classist posturing (which you can read about in the letter).
In both cases, it is refreshing to see a company take a moral stance (if a little belatedly in the first case) on something which is not in their immediate financial interest. It is somethings difficult to remember that companies are made up of individual humans who have moral compasses, and who want to have a positive effect on the world, even in the context of a financial venture.
Read this old, unsurprising report in New Scientist. From the article:
Automated trading ...has come to account for more than half of trades in many markets around the globe. ...Because of the finite speed of light, trading speed depends on where you are sitting. ..."The basic insight," says Wissner-Gross, "is that the optimal location lets the trader exploit fluctuations equally on both exchanges." ..."This shows that the technological arms race to extract every penny from high-frequency mechanical arbitrage will soon reach its ultimate limits," says physicist and hedge-fund manager Jean-Philippe Bouchaud
If this is how money and the free markets work now, I'm pretty sure we no longer know what words mean.