In the old days, there was a strict rule. If you want to be polite, if you want to avoid offence, there are three things you shouldn’t talk about: Religion, politics, and money.
Yes, you can talk about the weather. Talk about sport. Talk about travel.
But absolutely *do not* talk about religion, politics, and money. These topics are explosive mine fields. If you go wading into them, you will almost certainly suffer an emotional detonation.
But that was then.
This is now.
In the 21st century, such restraint is probably a moot point. At the moment, we live in a world of hyper-partisanship. It makes it difficult for any of us to escape from open and angry confrontations.
Case in point: I belong to an online investment group. On most days, discussions are civil. But recently, civility fractured and things turned ugly.
It started innocently enough. A newbie investor revealed that he was no longer comfortable investing in any entity aiding and abetting in war. He asked if anyone else felt the same way. Immediately, the unpleasantness started.
Grumbling. Jeers. Name-calling.
Soon, the heated conversation drifted to American politics. An argument broke out about whether the Democrats or the Republicans were more ‘ethical’ when it comes to weapons of war.
Wide-eyed, I watched the squabbling unfold. I thought to myself: ‘Well, is it possible to look past the noise? Can we look past the partisanship? Can we actually be fair and balanced?’
Ethical dilemmas on the left
The liberals in my investment group insist they had the moral high ground. They point to the fact that Barack Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize. He appeared to be kinder and gentler in diplomacy than his successor.
But is this really true?
As I explored in my previous article on the War on Terror, Obama was actually addicted to kinetic action. He launched 10 times more drone strikes during his presidency compared to George W. Bush.
Terror Tuesdays were a hallmark of Obama’s presidency. Here’s how it works. Every Tuesday, Obama would sit down with his security advisers to finalise what is known as the Disposition Matrix. In plain English, this is a ‘kill list’. A catalogue of global targets who must die that week.
In one particular strike in Yemen — a country America was not officially at war with — he reportedly wiped out 14 women and 21 children. They were conveniently labelled as EKIA. Enemy killed in action.
In another instance, Obama blew away Anwar al-Awlaki and his son, Abdulrahman. This was an even more significant milestone — because these two unlucky souls happened to be American citizens in Yemen. Denied the usual due process.
Why was Obama so bloodthirsty? So trigger-happy? Well, who can say?
The left-wing media never really bothered to investigate much of this. They were too busy painting a warm and fuzzy picture of Obama. They were willing to give him a free pass.
Ethical dilemmas on the right
Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum, the conservatives in my investment group insist they have the moral high ground. They are passionate supporters of Donald Trump. They point to the fact that he suppressed the Deep State. He drained the Swamp. He did not coddle the Pentagon like his predecessor did.
But is this really true?
In 2017, within months of assuming the White House, Trump moved quickly to sign a deal with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He transferred $110 billion of American arms to the Wahhabi regime.
Then, in 2020, in the closing days of his presidency, Trump again pushed forward with a final arms package of $500 million to Saudi Arabia.
It’s curious that Trump began and ended his presidency by cosying up to the Saudis. 9/11 was the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. And 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis.
Saudi Arabia remains, arguably, the top financier and supporter of terror worldwide.
In Malaysia (where I was born and raised), we have seen the grim consequences of this. In 2017, Raymond Koh, a Christian pastor running a ministry for the poor and homeless, was abducted in broad daylight by what appeared to be a paramilitary death squad.
Koh has since vanished, leaving his family anguished. Is he still alive? Or has he been murdered?
It’s no secret that Saudi-inspired Wahhabi doctrine has been spreading in Southeast Asia like wildfire. Increasingly, besieged Christians bear the brunt of this. So too do moderate Muslims who oppose fundamentalism. Many have been made to ‘disappear’.
In this regard, Trump’s material support of Saudi Arabia represents a major moral failing.
The right-wing media has been silent on this. They have been too busy acting as cheerleaders for Trump. Ironically, an exact mirror image of what the leftist media did for Obama.
Finding refuge in ethical investing
These days, we wrestle with so many grey areas — in religion, in politics, in money. Keeping track of it all can be exhausting. What’s ethical or not will come down to individual perception.
In psychology, there is something called the Halo Effect. It’s a form of cognitive bias. For example, if you like someone enough, he can do no wrong. You will support him without criticism.
The flip side of this is the Horn Effect. If you dislike someone enough, he can do no right. You will oppose him without reflection.
When presented with new evidence that challenges our fixed worldview, we tend to dig in and reject that information. We get emotional. We cling to our biases.
However, when it comes to investing for the long-term, you have to be prepared to be honest with yourself. Re-examine. Re-evaluate:
- ‘What goals am I trying to achieve?’
- ‘What aligns with my principles?’
- ‘How will I get to my destination?’
Here at Vistafolio, we invest globally on behalf of Eligible and Wholesale Clients.
We have a lower-risk strategy of investing in sectors like property, infrastructure, banking, energy, food production.
For us, ethics are as important as profits.
We aim to seek out the best businesses around the world. Businesses that add real positive value to people’s lives. And where possible, we want to avoid companies that have objectionable interests in areas like tobacco, gambling, or weapons of war.
So, forget left or right. It’s not a question of politics for us. It’s a question of common sense.
If this sounds like something you want to discover, we’re actually offering a FREE consult for our Vistafolio service right now 👉 Click here to find out more.
This could just be the perfect solution to protect and grow your wealth.
Analyst, Wealth Morning
Disclaimer: Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Vistafolio service is only available to Eligible Investors and Wholesale Investors (not to Retail Investors) as defined in the Financial Markets Conduct Act (2013).