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  • Claire H.
    What can I say man, she cracks me up! I'll also add that it's awesome having her as a cousin (in-law). Indeed.
  • Anna L.
    Anna just rocques.
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    Art + Mothering + Awesomeness=Erika
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    Awesome cousin-in-law that we get to see way too little.
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    The new Suzanne blog. Like the old one, just more Typepaddy.
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    Quarterly ezine about the intersection of the spiritual and material. Also I get to work on it.
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    If she's as awesome a boss as she is a mom, and you know she is, that kid's gonna be amazing.
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    Talented? Aww yeah. Easy to scare? In surplus. Loving and compassionate? You betcha.
  • NathanB
    One smart fella, in the midst of daddyland.
  • Robbie F.
    Robbie is...well, Robbie is Robbie. Intensely.
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    We're learning a lot from this very cool mom and friend we've gotten to know recently.
  • Heather B
    Co-founder of a family, magazine, and parent-support network that I've had the privilege to get to know recently.
  • Heather L
    Completely dedicated to making others happy.
  • Katie B.
    Dear sister-in-law who's a new a mommy, which is totally awesome. She's gonna mom the heck out of that child.
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    Dear sister-in-law - changing, transforming, learning, creating, erm...arting.
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    Mothering and writing.
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    As much love and joy as 10 men. Semiotician, philosopher, writer, artist, actor, inventor of the word weblo.
  • Liza
    Dear sister-in-law helping the world communicate better, one child at a time.
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    Filmmakers view of the world. Proud to call her my friend.
  • Jessica
    Having braved the reservations of South Dakota, she now braves Chicago, all with the voice of an angel.
  • Bahiyyih
    Awesome mother, awesome friend. (Inventor of the word webble)
  • Lacey
    A wonderful person; host to a family of blogs; the one who started it all for me.
  • Dad
    A great dad.

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Comments

Husayn

Thanks for raising that point/question, Lev! It gets down to so many questions/issues about investing. I haven't come to a conclusion about this, but here's what's been going around in my head since you posted.
My first barrier in learning about all this was, how can I participate in a system that I can't agree with. This system that says it's ok that people make money off other people being sick, or going to jail, or destroying the environment. Or since my bank was just bought by Chase, how can I keep my money in a bank one of who's employees said that the Zapatistas should be eliminated (in an internal policy statement that was leaked accidentally). For me the question boils down to, how do you live in the in-between--in between this New World we're trying to build and this Old World that's crumbling. Here's what I think. I've looked a bit into socially responsible investing (it says a lot that there's a special name for it, that it's not the normal practice) and found some things. One is that there are some mutual funds that are doing amazing things, supporting companies that are really trying to change things. But the ones I've found, so far at least, have had some pretty high fees associated with them. The funds themselves make money, but some of the fees are 2-4%. That can be tens of thousands of dollars over one's lifetime. So then the thought occurred to me, by doing that would I in a sense be paying charity? I do feel that contributing to the funds and to Huquq'u'llah really purifies one's possessions, so should I just invest in a fund that has lower fees, keep that money, reinvest to make more, and then be able to do more? I feel like that's the road I'd like to take. It seems like one of the unfortunate things about life right now is not whether to compromise with unjust systems, but when and how. This even comes into play trying to save money every day. Do we buy diapers from Target that are very affordable but ultimately bad for the environment, or recycled ones from Whole Foods, but that are so expensive it would require us to cut back a lot on things like food. Same with clothing--spend a lot on sustainably grown cotton, or go to the thrift store and buy something for $1. Or not invest, have nothing when I retire, and either work when I'm 70 or have Amia support me. Seems like either way we're a part of this system. I see a way out in two ways. One, I find it helpful to think of companies as bunches of individuals, not a faceless monolith. This helped me feel better the other day. For every executive that says/does something like calling for the elimination of a social movement, there's a person in that company who thinks it's wrong, and is trying to make the world a better place. Also, I think about Shoghi Effendi talking about international relations, talking about how the Hand of Providence is knitting the nations of the world closer and closer together even as they deny their interconnectedness and essential unity. I guess by participating in the world, and making prayerfully informed choices, I'm allowing myself, in some sense, to be knit even closer with the fates of my sisters and brothers.

I hope that made sense. I feel like my thoughts are still kind of circling. I'd love to hear what others think! It's in talking and dreaming with each other that new worlds are built.

Briana

Husayn,
will you be my financial planner?

Nathan

Yeah, that definitely helps. The NSA is really protecting the community by compiling this information and putting it out there. I mean, how else could the community be financially stable in the future?

Lev

Thanks for all this great perspective, Husayn. I have one broad comment/question for you. Investment is something I've been thinking a lot about lately. Over the last few years I've put a lot of thought into how my values are changing -- becoming more radical in some ways, become more moderate in others. There was a time when I would have told you without much evidence to back it up that I worried about where all my money would go if I invested in the stock market. If I invest in stocks through a mutual fund, I'm basically giving a bunch of CEOs my money and my blessings to do with it as they see fit. I'm not sure how comfortable I am with that. But I get the distinct impression that ethical investing doesn't give as high a rate of return as general mutual funds. Now that I'm in graduate school, with the real world looming terrifically close, I want the security of a Roth. I want to know that folks will be taken care of.

Have you (or other visitors) put thought into this stuff? I remember Billy Wimsatt writing about the Cool Rich Kids movement in NMP. There's not much about that on the internet, and much of what's there focuses rightly so on philanthropy. My question lends more toward, "Where do I invest my money in order to feel good about all of this?" And my answer right now is do the mutual fund thing. Sink that money long term, use the money to support yourself down the road in doing good works, and put at least an equal amount into the Fund. Because teaching and sacrificing to the Fund will more than balance the ills done by investing in a couple of crappy companies right now...

I'm not perfectly satisfied with that solution, but it pretty much sums up my current state of mind. I'd love to know what others think.

Husayn

Here's what I understand and what I know. Yes, you could lose thousands on an investment. There's always a chance. That's why a diversified account is a good thing, investing in lots of different kinds of companies and markets, and indexes as well. The company I mentioned before, for example, Vanguard, is one of the leaders in indexes. One of their funds is a 500 Index. That means that you're investment is tied to how well the biggest 500 companies in the world do. You can also get a Stock Market Index fund, where the investment is tied to how the entire stock market does. So the point Bob was making was that if you hitch your wagon to such a broad investment, eventually you'll end up making money because historically the market does grow indefinitely, even in some individual companies don't. As far as accountability, I'm still learning, but the way I understand investment companies to work is that funds are managed by a person or team of investors. If they don't do well they're let go. And if that happens repeatedly the company won't have new investors. One of the things you look at when investing is the prospectus, which lays out the company's investment strategy and history. I've also been reading Kiplinger's Online, which explains things like the corporate culture and how often they change investors (some companies will fire an investment manager after a year of losses, others will wait a couple years). From what I understand what you're saying about inflation, companies only keep making money as long as they can keep adding value to their services and products.

And you're right about needing to stay ahead of inflation. Last I knew inflation was 4 or 5%, so you really need to invest in something. I used to think a savings account would do it, but even with our money market savings account, we're just keep up with inflation at 4%.

I don't know if this answered your questions or not. This is why we're working on getting all this information out, and having interactivity built in, so we can ask questions.

Nathan

Thanks Husayn, but still I don't understand how not knowing market influences equates to better investments. Market performance averages are fine, but what about my specific account's performance? There's always the very real possibility that I could lose thousands and thousands of dollars on an investment, even in mutal funds. How is accountability built into the system if I simply give some company my money to invest? Is their success dependent on my success? How long is too long to wait to pull your money out?

Also, everything doesn't grow indefinitely, does it? How can companies keep their promises to make so many people so much money? I realize the time value of money plays the biggest part in this, but doesn't that rely too much on inflation as a means of generating wealth? It seems to me if I don't invest, I simply can't survive later on because inflation will have forced the dollar to something comparable to the status of the yen today (ie. US$1 now ~ US$120 future). In terms of exponential growth, the rate of expansion is accelerating so fast that I just don't see how the system is sustainable.

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