Archive for April, 2015

Questions for Bob Doll

Christ in Business – Bob Doll (Full video)

Published on Oct 24, 2014
On February 2014, Gordon-Conwell in Jacksonville hosted an event on Christ in Business. Our speaker was Bob Doll (CFA, CPA), who has been Chief Equity Strategist and Senior Portfolio Manager at Nuveen Asset Management, LLC since November 26, 2012.

I watched this video on Christ in business with low expectations, even so, I was disappointed. He works in the financial industry as a portfolio manager. He seems decent enough, but REALLY needs to check his privilege. He describes losing a previous job because, if I understood correctly, he refused to put an investment into a client’s portfolio because he did not think it appropriate. In this his faith protected him. Because, if I understand correctly, he was being asked to put a bum investment into a client’s portfolio and he put his client first. Good for him.

He also lost his job for “sharing his faith.” There are certain Christians who just won’t understand how inappropriate that is. If someone at work tells you there is sickness in the family or something like that it is fine to say “I will hold your child (or whoever) in prayer.” Even atheists, most of them, understand that as a friendly gesture. But if you ask them if you can pray with them, that is inappropriate. That is crossing a line. Can you imagine a Jew, Muslim, or Buddhist offering to pray with you? No, because no American Jew, Muslim, or Buddhist would possess the sense of entitlement that would allow such rude behavior.

Faith is a prickly subject. My minister once remarked in a sermon that there was a stretch in his life where he commuted on the train regularly. He always took his Bible with him to better study while riding. He always sat alone, no one wants to sit next to a man reading a Bible. That should tell you something about the public display of religion. The mere site of a Bible is enough to repel people. Christians would do well to ask themselves why that would be so. Christ calls on us to refrain from being jerks.

Matthew 6:6New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Let’s talk about his understanding of economics. He is a successful portfolio manager, so it is tempting to think that he understands economics. But he buys into the conventional wisdom that is destroying America. Doll reminds me of those fools who sleep walked their way into World War One. Like Nicholas and Alexsandra he appears to be oblivious to the widespread suffering around him, the extreme state represssion of its own citizens and other growing signs of social dysfuction.

He described the economy being in good shape because, in addition to other things, the federal deficit is down. In fact, that is precisely why the economy is so rotten. There have only been two times in American history that the federal deficit has been in surplus, 1928, and 2000. It is not coincidence that the biggest economic collapses came in the immediate aftermath of federal surpluses. Federal spending into the economy creates money and reduction of the federal deficit takes money out of the economy. Anyone who understands modern monetary theory understands this, and that conventional wisdom is tragically wrong. All the gains of the so-called recovery have gone to the top 1%. This is not a healthy economy.

Moreever he was lyrical about he energy sector, by which he clearly means fossil fuels. So he is OK with investing in the destruction of planet earth. Given that renewables now cost less than fossil fuel you would think that a man styling himself as a Christian businessman might invest in the preservation of God’s creation, but it seems you would be wrong. That is what I mean by sleep walking our way to disaster. Our elite, political and corporate, are like those fools who slipped into World War One.

So here are some questions I would have for Doll if he were sitting with me right now. What does it say about Christianity that the most religious nation with an advnaced economy also has the worst health care system among advanced nations? We pay the most money and get the worst results. What does it say about American Christianity that we tolerate such things? What does it say about our national priorities that we spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined? What is coming down from the pulpit that we tolerate such a state of affairs? What does it say about the US that Gitmo was ever opened? And that it remains open? Why haven’t Christians risen up and insisted that it be closed? Why aren’t Christians as a whole, not just a few faith groups here and there, calling for the prosecution of war criminals. Why is Doll more worried that the Hobby Lobby might have to pay for their employees sexy time than the fact that his government is committing torture on a systematic basis?

What does it say about our morals that so many people need to own guns, and not just a gun, but private arsenals. What is coming down from the pulpit that is turning America into an armed camp? It is not the crime rate, crime is way down. Paranoia is way up, and clearly the churches are not helping.

What does it say about America’s spiritual health that one in thirty of our children are homeless? What does it say about our economic system that vacant houses outnumber homeless people? How can Christians tolerate such a state of affairs?

These are all indications of systematic social moral depravity that Doll completely fails to recognize. And I love it that he is all for giving to his church but begrudges any money for taxes. There are many ways to give to God. One is in the form of tax so the federal government will repair the bridge before it collapses on us. There is no indication that Doll has any sense of social compact outside of his church.