Norman Allan
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Short Stories







Unethical Funds


Dave is a Financial Adviser. He is young and he is working in a large firm. He is also the victim of a motor vehicle accident. I’ve been treating him. He is almost better. Of course the insurance company is dicking us about... a bit. Before they cover his accident they are consuming his "extended benefits", so that once he has recovered they will have already whisked away his extended benefits saving themselves, collectively, a few hundred dollars. I think that little insurance company conspiracy might have been what set us off to invent the Unethical Fund. Or maybe we were talking about ethical stocks, while I was working on his neck, and one of us, or both of us, came up with the idea of a mutual fund based explicitly on "unethical stocks". I got quite excited. It would sell like hot cakes. Everyone assumes that unethical companies are profitable. We could make a million. "Dave’s Devil’s Own Unethical Fund". People would buy them as a novelty. You could put in one share of Enron. "Can you still buy Enron?" I asked.

"Oh yes. I believe it’s selling at 39 cents this morning. And Anderson, of course," said Dave.

"Who are the big weapon’s manufacturers?" I asked. "Besides Dow Chemicals."

"Not Dow. It’s Lockheed and Boeing."

"How about General Motors?"

"General Electric. I don’t know about General Motors," said Dave, "but certainly we can stick in Harley Davidson." Harley has been one of our favorite topics. It’s America’s new mother’s milk and apple pie. There is a two-year waiting list to buy a bike.

"Why Harley?" I asked.

"Cause the Hell’s Angels ride them. Think Harley, think Angels. And there’s Exxon and their pollution. And the banks."

"And the insurance companies," I said.

"Oh, yes. The insurance companies for sure."

We added to our list with abandon. "There’s McDonald’s, for the trees and the heart disease."

"There’s Talisman. A great Canadian firm." Just that week it had come public that Talisman had asked the Sudanese military to clear the villages out of the oil fields.

"And what about Volkswagen?" Dave asked.

"Actually," I said, "Volkswagen don’t make any weapons on principle."

"Ah, but there was the Second World War slave labour."

"Well we could certainly throw in Krupt. I think they are big in pharmaceuticals nowadays, probably under some new name. We’ll have to research the Second World War slave labour practices."

"What about pharmaceutical in general?" asked Dave.

"Well, I would think they are pretty unethical. That’s a long story," I said. "I’ll save it for another day, but Monsanto, and the other genetic engineering concerns, are a sure bet." Then I stopped and thought. "You know, maybe we could just pretend to buy unethical stocks and really by ethical stock. Tell everyone we were buying unethical, but cheat on them buy really buying ethical stocks. That would be unethical."

"And illegal," said Dave.

My enthusiasm for the project continued through to the end of our session, and through booking the next appointment, and seeing Dave to the door. I was sure Dave’s Devil’s Own Unethical Fund would be hot, would be viable. It could be a really big fad. Make us rich. But I sensed that, for Dave, this was not a serious proposition. He was just having fun. As he started down the stairs, I queried him. "You’re not going to do this, are you? You know it would work. Everyone would buy some. Gifts for their friends. Just for a joke. We’d make a killing."

Dave looked back. "I don’t really have time," he said. I’m too busy making money for my clients. And besides," he added, but then he left me hanging.

"And besides?" I asked.

"And beside… it would be unethical."



Short stories