Dana Beltramo inspires me.
Dana’s heartfelt piece set to the song “America” by Waylon Jennings, echoes the message I hear from so many people in America today. I asked Dana if I could include her piece in my Rooted Investing blog. Dana asked what her message has to do with investments.
Suddenly it hit me – most Americans are shareholders through IRAs, 401ks, and pension funds. We are shareholders in the very corporations that have robbed us of “the America I was promised as a child.”
For example, my colleague Leo struggles under the weight of student loan debt. One day I overheard Leo’s conversation with a debt collector for Sallie Mae. Leo is a shareholder in Sallie Mae (now Navient and SLM Corporation) through a fund in his 401k-retirement plan.
Corporations do not view owners of IRAs, 401ks and pension plans, like Leo, as “shareholders”. Corporations view fund managers as “shareholders.” The fund managers ignore owners, like Leo, and make investment selections based on numbers, “not [the values that made] the America I was taught to love.”
We, the owners of IRAs, 401k plans and pension plans, need to find our voice. We are people, not numbers.
For example, political lobbying by any corporation violates my values. Navient and SLM Corporation spent $2.8 million in 2013 and $2.3 million for 9 months in 2014 on lobbying expenses. Vanguard Windsor II, which I own in my IRA, is the largest “shareholder” in both companies according to Morningstar.
I need to e-mail the Board of Directors of SLM Corporation email@example.com and Navient firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them that I want them to stop political lobbying and use the money to increase profits to shareholders.
I will send a secure e-mail to Vanguard https://personal.vanguard.com/us/ContactUsSecureEmail?isContact=p and ask Vanguard to tell SLM and Navient to stop political lobbying.
I am a shareholder and an owner. Stop ignoring me. Listen to me.