Buying stolen goods

Have you ever bought a stolen cell phone? Donated money to a genocidal group? Moved into someone’s home and taken over?
Husband and I are debating how to invest our money for our family’s future. We are struggling to figure out options that will provide us with needed income as we age, as well as conform with our personal and family values. I would love your ideas.

Mutual funds: Since we don’t have choice over the companies involved, it’s a definite that our money will go to support activities we don’t: fossil fuel extraction that destroys the land and marginalizes (or kills) existing inhabitants of the land, for one example.

Ethical or socially responsible mutual funds sound like the solution – except you’re still left with pharmaceutical companies, the energy sector … and frankly, lots of other big companies that I don’t necessarily support in my individual life, so why would I support them in my financial life?

Individual investments: not a realistic option given time and interest (my interest) constraints.

Then there’s real estate. Solution! Except that we live on unceded land, so any time you buy a home you are buying something that was stolen, never paid for. And anyway, really, can anyone own the land? Should we move somewhere with land treaties so that we can feel better about our purchases?

Of course, I read the stats on elderly poverty, and especially elderly female poverty, and I am determined to do my best to care for myself and my family throughout our lives. At the same time, we don’t want to be hypocrites, though I may embrace some degree of hypocrisy in this process as I am not into hunger or homelessness.

I wonder: Where are the really good, ethical options? Where’s a model that supports local economics and food production? Alternative health approaches? Even regional banking ? (OK, credit unions – but I have an objection to paying $100 plus to any institution that is using my money, be it local or not).

What options have you explored? Does this matter to you? Is this a really annoying or privileged question to raise? What have I missed?


  1. Wonderful blog post. I hear ya. Quite a few years ago, I had the same quandary. I decided to enlist a financial advisor I could totally trust – someone who knew me – because I didn’t want to spend any time trying to figure this sh*t out. If you are interested, I can give you his name. Basically, he knows how I feel about investing in dubious enterprises, knows I want to support innovation, environmental protection, & small family businesses, so I take his advice. I nod my head when he gives me advice but I truly have no interest in this realm. I try really hard to ignore the ups & downs of the market and pretend my money is not accessible once it’s invested. Now, I am fairly certain, I won’t be living my old age in my car situated in a Walmart parking lot.

    • Hi! I remember you talking about your advisor – I think we need more clear conversations with the ones here. We haven’t gone back to the topic in a while, and need to. I don’t mind ignoring the invested money, but I do want it somewhere. Ethics, food … surely there is a way to balance.

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