Socially Responsible Investing
Rising concern about health and the environment has led to the rapid growth of socially responsible investing (SRI) in recent years. In fact, SRI is no longer just about avoiding “sin” stocks like tobacco, gambling and liquor – or companies that profit from war. Today’s socially responsible investors want to find companies that have clear strategies for meeting environmental and social goals as well as favorable corporate-governance policies. Today, some 260 mutual funds – up from 55 in 1995 – have $202 billion invested in socially responsible companies. But can an investor make money in a socially responsible investment? Experts are divided on that question, but one thing is certain: Demand for investment vehicles that align money and ethics is growing in popularity and becoming more and more mainstream in investment circles.
By Thomas J. Billitteri
Future of U.S. Warfare
With fierce combat still under way in Iraq and Afghanistan, military strategists at home are waging another kind of fight. They’re debating whether tomorrow’s wars will resemble the conflicts we’re fighting now – and whether the counterinsurgency strategies being tested there are the wave of the future. Some fresh-from-the-battlefield warriors see Iraq and Afghanistan as models of future conflict. They applaud a recent emphasis by the Pentagon on “irregular” warfare, which can include tamping down conflict by promoting improved social conditions in unstable regions. Other battle-hardened veterans see danger in de-emphasizing traditional combat skills, such as tank maneuvering and artillery marksmanship. And yet, some in the counterinsurgency school counter, even that risk is worth running because no sane enemy would challenge the powerful U.S. military in a traditional, World War II-style conflict. But all sides acknowledge that certainties don’t exist in military forecasting, and that the biggest danger can be planning ahead – for the war you just fought.
By Peter Katel
Gay Marriage Showdowns
The California Supreme Court gave gay-rights advocates a major victory in May by ruling that the state’s constitution guarantees same-sex couples the same marriage rights as opposite-sex pairs. Thousands of same-sex couples from California and other states – since California does not have a residency requirement – have already taken advantage of the decision to obtain legal recognition for their unions. Opponents, however, have placed on the state’s Nov. 4 ballot a constitutional amendment that would deny marriage rights to same-sex couples by defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Similar proposals are on the ballot in Arizona and Florida. The ballot-box showdowns come as nationwide polls indicate growing support for some legal protection for same-sex couples, but not necessarily marriage equality. In California, early polls showed support for the ballot measure, but more recently it has been trailing. Meanwhile, marriage-equality cases are pending before state high courts in Connecticut and Iowa, with decisions expected soon. Massachusetts became the first state to legally permit gay marriage, in 2004.
By Kenneth Jost