Monday, October 3, 2011

Don't buy Microsoft Office -- install OpenOffice instead for free

For most people, Microsoft Office is a waste of money and very frustrating to use.

As an alternative, I recommend downloading and installing OpenOffice. In addition to being free, it is much easier to use. OpenOffice can be used to edit Microsoft Office files (Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, etc). Documents can be saved in a variety of file formats, including PDF.

To download the latest version, visit OpenOffice.org.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Change Mutual Funds and the Corporate World

Problem #1: Mutual fund investors sacrifice their right to vote for diversification, and in some cases, fund management.

Fund managers do not necessarily represent you or your interests, and generally vote according to whatever a corporation's board recommends because that is the quickest thing to do. Non-voting investors are helpless and have no influence on the board. This situation has led to boards that are not accountable, and widespread investor frustration.

Proposal #1: all mutual funds must allow investors the option of voting their shares.

Problem #2: Online proxy voting sites usually have a single button to "vote according to the board recommendations", but do not have a single button to "vote against board recommendations". 

Why are investors who disagree with the board forced to do more? 

Proposal #2: if a site offers a single button to vote with the board, there must also be a single button for voting against the board recommendations.

As investor citizens, don't sacrifice your right to vote. Arguably, your right to vote in corporate decisions may be more important than your right to vote in government elections. Government elections are national, corporations are global.

Resources:
ProxyDemocracy - see how various mutual funds vote. (note: prior to 2003 mutual funds didn't have to disclose this information)