All this and heaven too?
For nine years a mutual fund based in Washington and New Hampshire has been offering investors a chance to earn money through moral investments, earning a decent return from approximately 1,300 persons who have signed up.
"They're not very big, but their performance has been good," said Reg Green, spokesman for a trade association of mutual funds. "They're doing well by doing good.It's not been a dog on the market at all."
The fund is Pax (the Latin word for peace) World Fund, run by two Washington-based Methodist ministers. Pax was started during the war in Vietnam to manage investments for persons who didn't want to put their money into defense-related industries -- who wanted to make money, not war.
Since then, according to President Luther E. Tyson and Vice President J. Elliott Corbett, the fund has overcome initial skepticism and attracted a growing number of investors who earn both modest dividends and growth in the value of their assets.
"In six out of the last eight years we've outperformed the New York Stock Exchange composite, and over the years we've averaged just about in the middle of the mutual funds in terms of performance," said Tyson. At the end of 1978 the fund had net assets of $1.89 million.
In 1979 the fund paid a 57-cent dividend on each share, with the value of a share rising from $8.33 at the beginning of the year to $9.33 at the close, he said. Someone who bought at the beginning of the year and sold at the end of the year could have earned 18.8 percent on the investment, said Tyson.
What distinguishes the fund is what it doesn't invest in -- weapons producers, major defense contractors, firms that produce alcohol or tobacco or that run casinos. As social concerns have shifted over the years from war into other areas, the fund also has tried to avoid companies with equal employment problems and is examining new criteria on pollution, said Corbett.
Some of the investment questions are close. "We had a well-known glass company that we brought before our board of directors," said Corbett. "It was a good company with good social practices, but they were the manufacturers of a glass canopy that fit over a fighter plane. We asked our board if that was a weapon."
The decision of the board was not to invest, he said. Also turned down was an elevator company that manufactured simulator training units used to train helicopter pilots during the war in Vietnam.
"We also have to monitor takeovers," said Tyson. "At one time we were very happy with Montgomery Ward. Then they were taken over by Mobil, one of the 100 largest defense contractors." Other firms such as Holiday Inns and Pan Am have taken themselves out of consideration by a decision to invest in casinos.
Even so, said Corbett, there are enough firms around that a fund can add social criteria to economic criteria and still come out ahead.
Coming out ahead is one of the aims of the fund, but not its chief aim. "The Fund endeavors through its investment objectives to make a contribution to world peace," according to its prospectus.
There are more lucrative investments, Tyson and Corbett concede. "You can get 10 to 12 percent on a money market certificate," said Corbett. "But people invest because they want to be in life-supportive services. They would much rather be in that which builds society up than that which tears it down."
"Richt now defense stocks are going crazy," said Corbett. "If you were only interested in making money, you'd be in defense stocks today. But there are a lot of people out there with social consciousness who would rather be in live-supportive investments," he said.
The board of the fund includes Hyman Bookbinder, Washington representative of the American Jewish Committee; Albert D. Boulanger, a lawyer and gerontologist; C. Lloyd Bailey, executive director of the U.S. Committee of UNICEF; and Ralph M. Hayward, a retired pharmaceutical company executive. Also on the board are Raymond L. Mannix, a certified public accountant who formerly taught at Boston University, and Henry M. Nevin, an analyst for the United Busines Service Co. and chairman of the Civic Unity Committee in Cambridge, Mass. Not all of the board's members are pacifists, said Tyson.
The company's investments are managed by Anthony S. Brown, an investor who manages his own and the fund's portfolio out of an office in Portsmouth, N.H.
The fund has invested in building-product firms, chemical companies, food processors such as Kraftco Corp., retailers, manufacturers and utilities -- but no utilities that produce nuclear power.
"We're not in nuclear on economic grounds," said Tyson.
Neither will the fund invest in companies with rocky labor-management relations. "because a company doing business this way will reap the whirlwind," said Tyson, in a metaphor more ministerial than mutual managerial. "Whenever a company has bad labor practices, it's not going to do well over the long term."
Although discussions of whether various types of enterprises are ethical is a constant item of business before the fund's board, the board hasn't questioned the ethics of capitalism, Tyson said.
"We're trying to do the best we can in terms of ethical considerations within the system," said Corbett.
"There is no such thing as 100 percent pure," said Corbett. "Companies have their faults as we do. It's a matter of deciding between better and worse -- between not-perfect and horrible."
"When people call us a 'pure' or a 'clean' fund, it drives us up the wall," said Tyson. "It indicates they think we're so unsophisticated we don't know the difference between light gray and dark gray."
What the fund has been able to do is demonstrate that people who care can use their influence to create more corporate responsibility, said Tyson and Corbett. Churches and educational institutions also increasingly have adopted social criteria for their investments, they said.
It is an influence in the corporate world that Corbett likened to the prophet Amos who held up a plumb line to Israel and asked Israel to measure up to it.