A substantial portion of corporate shareholdings in the United States is held by pension funds that secure retirement benefits for broad segments of the workforce. A number of commentators have argued that the assets secured by these pension funds should be used to promote the creation of a more democratic and egalitarian economy. Specifically, pension assets could be invested in projects that are deemed socially worthwhile, wielded in strategic "corporate campaigns" against companies resisting unionization, or directed toward allowing workers to obtain control over their own companies. This program of employing pension assets in the pursuit of a more democratic economy – referred to by the author as "pension fund socialism " – is hindered by a number of obstacles arising both from within the structure of pension funds and from the larger legal, economic and political landscape. For instance, there are legitimate reasons to limit the risk pension funds carry, thus narrowing the range of investment opportunities open to the funds. Also restricting the potential of pension fund socialism are the conflicting interests among different sectors of the workforce, such as those existing between current employees and retirees. The author's thesis is that the prospects of pension fund socialism are substantial but not as bright as many proponents have suggested.
William H. Simon,
The Prospects of Pension Fund Socialism,
Berkeley J. Emp. & Lab. L.
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