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The Vexed Moral Dimension of Share Shifting and How to Sleep At Night

By Malcolm Stacey | Tuesday 1 November 2016

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from ShareProphets). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Hello Share Collectors. There is a Mel Gibson film being praised at the moment. It tells the story of a soldier in the Second World War who refused to kill, yet still went into battle to save his colleagues.

I would be like that soldier, except that I would have found a way of backsliding out of conscription in the first place. I could never kill anything - not even a wasp.

Therefore, when Uncle Tom says he and his wife refused a Downs Syndrome test because they could not bring themselves to take a life by doing something about it, should the test prove positive, I would have made the same choice.

Tom draws our attention to a company called Premaitha (NIPT) in which we could invest and which makes safe pre-birth tests for Downs Syndrome. Some will see this as a very good product because it is not an invasive test, which some prospective parents go through.

There is a very slight chance of a baby dying from the invasive test, so the non-invasive test, though not quite as accurate, seems a good thing.

But should we not let nature take its untested course and bring into the world all Down Syndrome babies? I know a few of them and they are nearly always better adjusted and happier people than those who are not Downs Syndrome. They bring a lot of joy.

So I would probably not invest in this firm. Tom says he has. Tom would also invest in tobacco firms. I would not. He has previously cited sincere reasons why tobacco companies are ok to invest in, just as he finds sincere reasons to invest in Premaitha. So I do not blame him.

But I do blame people who buy shares in companies when their principles say very firmly they should not deal in them. Take arms companies. Most people believe in armed aggression, and if they buy shares, well that’s morally ok. But for an ardent pacifist to invest in arms companies in the hope of making a few quid, well, it is just not on.

I heard on Radio Four at the weekend a woman say in jest that on certain occasions she would be prepared to put her principles aside. But that is something in real life we should never do. If you are a veggie and you buy shares in a meat company, don’t expect to gain much respect.

And if you believe that Downs Syndrome babies should be allowed to be born, then you should perhaps do nothing to support tests which may encourage terminations. But if you believe, as Tom does, that a woman has a right to decide what to do with her own body, then you should. Decisions, decisions…

Not much moral discussion, though, in the Punter’s Return.

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