People often ask me, “Robin, do you buy so-and-so product? And if you don’t invest there, do you buy their product?” And to me, there is a difference between ownership and patronage.
Let’s say that there is a convenience store in my local community. Well, let’s say I walk by orange juice. I walk by gum. They may be selling pornography, tobacco, alcohol, lottery tickets. I walk in, I buy milk, I walk out. I’ve done business with milk, right? So I’m a patron in the business. By buying the milk, I’m encouraging, in some ways, the convenience store owner to stock more milk on the shelf. By not engaging with the tobacco, in some ways, I’m discouraging the sale of tobacco. So as a patron in the convenience store, I could encourage or discourage the convenience store to sell certain types of products and not sell the other types of products.
But if I’m an investor, if I’m an owner in the business, I share in the profits that come from all the products, right? So I would say that the owner, the investor, has even a greater ethical responsibility than the patron.