You can't make money and be moral at the same time

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You can’t make money and be moral at the same time

Chris Coltrane explains why it’s not OK to invest in bombing children to feed other children.


Comic Relief decided to start a ‘War on Poverty’, but didn’t think about this enough. (

At the end of last year, the BBC programme Panorama said that the charity Comic Relief (that fights against poverty) had invested millions of dollars in tobacco and alcohol companies, and $1 billion in British Aerospace (who make weapons).

The management team of Comic Relief decided to start a ‘War on Poverty’, but didn’t think about it enough. So now, they could be fighting hunger with food, but maybe they are stopping world hunger by killing hungry people. It’s a new plan for an old problem.

And is it really so bad to invest in an arms company? We’ve all done it. At Christmas – a time of happiness – we often get drunk and make immoral investments.

The supporters of the charity were angry at the news. But it is not surprising to people who understand 21st-century capitalism: you can’t invest and be moral at the same time.

For example, some people say that if Comic Relief only made ethical investments, they wouldn’t be able to give to charities the $33-million that they made with the investments. This makes it sound good to invest in companies that make weapons and cigarettes. But I think it proves that capitalism is really terrible! This system forces us to invest in bombs that kill children, because, if we don’t, we won’t have enough money to feed and educate other children! It’s like a church that tries to get money to repair to holes in their roof by getting people to give them money to burn down old people’s houses – crazy.

When you complain, they reply: ‘Look, people will give us $5,000. If you don’t let us burn down that old lady’s house, you –YOU! – are stopping us getting money this community really needs. Now give us the petrol, or go away.’

This is similar to the argument made by rightwingers. They say we shouldn’t force people to pay tax, because if you tax them they’ll leave the country and pay even less.

But all their money is already in other countries. That’s the problem. And second, how will they leave the country? If we force energy companies to pay all their tax, how will they leave the country? Will they take all the power stations with them? They wouldn’t be able to take them through customs:

‘Anything to declare?’

‘No. Oh yes – all of Britain’s gas and electricity system.’

So I have an idea to end poverty without investing in weapons: end capitalism! Take all the money from the billionaires, give it to the people of the world, and stop poverty and hunger overnight. It’s simple.

But someone must take that first step, and start kidnapping the rich. I don’t mind doing it. But I need some motivation. I’ll do it, if enough people sponsor me for $5 each.

And unlike Comic Relief, I’m very honest - I’ll spend all the money on alcohol, cigarettes and weapons of mass destruction.

Chris Coltrane is a comedian and activist. See his website: and follow him on Twitter: chris_ coltrane.

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