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Friday, September 28, 2007

Total power

Political parties are calling for a boycot of French Oil Company Total, because of their involvement with Birma. One could yawn and dismiss it as 'another boycot'. But Total is my gas station, around the corner. The discussion reminds me of an article I wrote two years ago for a magazine that, in the end, did not materialize for lack of funding. I traced back the decision tree in the financial world to the consumer. We put our money in pension funds, and those funds are the most powerful entities in the financial market (well, perhaps behind the hedge funds these days). What would happen if we would start a movement to force the people who invest our pension money to think about the implications of their investments? Wouldn't that make a big change? There's a famous story of an ex-nun in America who gathered enough empowerment by authorization of individual shareholders to force Coca-Cola into AIDS-friendly policy in Africa. "There's always a chance of things changing for the better," she once said, "and I simply took it." In her honor I will get my gas somewhere else in the future. Hoping Total will rethink their actions. Not because Tom Kniesmeijer is lost to them as a client, but because they appreciate the strive for a positive change.

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