If we had 20 Ron DeSantis’s, we’d be winning this battle

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Have you heard of ESG? It stands for "Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance” — which is just a buzzword for left-wing values infiltrating companies. We know the long march through in the institutions of left-wing radicals — universities, the media, Hollywood ... But now they’re in formerly conservative areas — Big Tech, the military, even NFL football. And now big companies.

Here’s how the CFA Institute defines ESG — CFA’s are chartered financial analysts. They’re people who run companies. See, and that’s your problem right there. Companies are run by making financial decisions. But ESG tells businesses they have to place other values higher than making money. Like “fighting climate change”, whatever that means.

Their definition reads:

ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance. Investors are increasingly applying these non-financial factors as part of their analysis process to identify material risks and growth opportunities. ESG metrics are not commonly part of mandatory financial reporting, though companies are increasingly making disclosures in their annual report or in a standalone sustainability report. Numerous institutions, such as the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) are working to form standards and define materiality to facilitate incorporation of these factors into the investment process.

It’s like when Trudeau says he’ll apply a gender analysis to building pipelines. It’s a laugh. It’s a joke. There is no gender analysis to building pipelines. Pipelines don’t have a gender, they’re made of steel. But it’s just Trudeau’s way of smearing the oil patch as misogynists or whatever. Of course it’s not true — try doing a gender analysis on oil and gas from Saudi Arabia — where women simply aren’t allowed to work in those companies. Canadian oil and gas is gender-neutral — anyone can work in an oil company. Any race, any sex, gay or straight, whatever. None of those things can be said about OPEC oil. But Trudeau used gender analysis to block Canadian pipelines. It’s a scam.

It’s purely designed to infiltrate. You’d think that one of the highest-rated ESG companies would be Elon Musk’s electric car company, Tesla. I mean, he’s finally doing it, building a mass-market electric car. But of course Musk has gone rogue, gone “crazy” by talking about free speech and all that.

Look at this exchange on Twitter:

Pretty blunt!

A podcaster asked: "What objective standards are used to determine an ESG score?” To which Christina Pushaw, a senior aide to Ron DeSantis, replied:

"There are no objective standards. If Exxon has a higher “ESG score” than Tesla, it’s all about ideological conformity, not sustainability or whatever the virtue signaling word of the day is”

And then Glenn Beck jumped in!

Twitter can be pretty interesting. I like a number of those people — but Christina Pushaw was the most consequential, at least as far as my news today is concerned.

There are 50 United States, and each of them has a governor, and a budget, and investments. 28 of those states are republican. But of course, Ron DeSantis of Florida is clearly the most active of the governors.

Which brings us back to the news of today:

"Florida's Chief Financial Officer said on Thursday his department would pull $2 billion worth of its assets managed by BlackRock Inc the biggest such divestment by a state opposed to the asset manager's environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) policies."

The move will hardly dent BlackRock's $8 trillion in assets and drew a strong response from the company, which said the action put politics over investor interests.”

It’s true — BlackRock is bigger than most governments. It probably controls more of your life, in certain spheres, than does the government. 2 billion sounds like a lot — but it’s less than 1% of 1% of the funds that BlackRock controls. But still: it’s finally someone taking on the Death Star.

I should note, two other states have done this already, before DeSantis: Louisiana pulled $800 million and Missouri pulled $500 million; maybe Florida is just bigger and their governor is better at getting national media. But three states now — that’s not a blip, that’s a trend. And like I say — there are 28 U.S. states run by Republican governors. If they all followed Missouri and Louisiana and Florida, it would surely be an eleven-figure divestment. Still, not enough to dent BlackRock. But enough to get a narrative going: what is ESG, who decided we have to do it, how is it hurting us, and can we stop it?

As the CFAs tell us, ESG is making political decisions instead of business decisions. Now, I suppose, we believe in that sometimes. We wouldn’t want to buy something made in slave labour factories in China, right? Although of course we do. We wouldn’t want our computers made there or our clothing or running shoes made there. Except they are. In fact, there are massive protests, I’d call it an uprising, at Apple’s big factories in China right now. And Nike actually lobbied against a U.S. bill that would stop them from using slave labour in China’s Muslim province of Xinjiang.

So how do they do on this ESG score business? Well, let’s check.

Nike — a score of 17. Low risk! Really? They’re literally using slave labour in China. But they’re really cool and woke, so there’s that, right? Apple has almost an identical score. They are building their machines in China. But Elon Musk — the free speech guy — building electric cars is a higher risk, according to ESG.

And Standard & Poor’s kicked them off their index. "It said that Tesla’s “lack of a low-carbon strategy” and “codes of business conduct,” along with racism and poor working conditions reported at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, affected the score. Tesla’s handling of an investigation by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration also weighed on its score.”

Really? A low-carbon strategy? They make electric cars. They are the strategy. And poor working conditions in California — the most pro-worker jurisdiction in America? They’re being kicked out — but companies actually building things in China are just fine?

Oh, I got to show you this. MEG energy is a Canadian Oilsands company — Canadian values, environmental rules, social responsibility, civil rights, workers rights. High risk! 38! Danger! Danger! But Sinopec — a Chinese company that operates in China and OPEC regimes, no human rights, no freedom, no environmental — gets a 35.7. They’re better? Seriously — imagine the bribery here. It’s as corrupt as the Olympic committee.

Well, back to Ron DeSantis. Here’s more from that Reuters Story:

"It underscores how a backlash among many Republican leaders, such as those in Florida, against ESG investing, which they see as promoting a "woke agenda" is gathering steam. Republicans are set to assume control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January. This will allow them to hold hearings on ESG and grill the chief executives of BlackRock and other major assets managers about their ESG policies, and also pressure regulators to scrutinize them."

Exactly. See, if you are managing someone’s money as an investment advisor; or if you are running a company on behalf of shareholders, you have a duty to them. Obviously, to be honest — don’t steal, don’t cheat. But you have something called a fiduciary duty - you have to look out for their financial interest. You have to make the most money for them that you can. You can call it greed, if you’re negative. But you can call it being prosperous, if you’re positive — and given that so many investments are people's pensions, people's life savings, or endowments for schools and hospitals, employees funds, whatever — it is highly moral to get the best rate of return possible. Businesspeople are greedy for themselves — that’s human nature. But fiduciary duty says they must be “greedy” for others; which I suppose you could call a form of charity, frankly. We know people will take care of themselves. But businesses must take care of their investors, too. They must do the best thing for them.

ESG changes that. It makes political errands more important than earning money. It’s diverting people's money to pet causes of ESG activists. Hey, here’s an idea: let businesses make money — and then let the shareholders who get rich decide to do with their own profits whatever they want?

Well, BlackRock not only uses ESG to push its left-wing policies on its investors. It forces companies that want Blackrock investments to agree to this ideology. It literally injects politics into non-political businesses as a kind of extortion.

Regulators should take a look. How much money is BlackRock frittering away on its political pet projects, instead of earning money for investors? And how are they pressuring companies to become political to get BlackRock money?

In a statement, Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis said the State's Treasury, which he oversees, would remove BlackRock as manager of about $600 million of short-term investments and have its custodian freeze $1.43 billion of long-term securities now with BlackRock, with an eye on reallocating the money to other money managers by the start of 2023.

Patronis accused BlackRock of focusing on ESG rather than higher returns for investors.

"Florida's Treasury Division is divesting from BlackRock because they have openly stated they've got other goals than producing returns," Patronis said in the statement provided by his office.”

Well, BlackRock’s response was incredible. Just amazing:

"Asked about the move, BlackRock said in a statement that "We are disturbed by the emerging trend of political initiatives like this that sacrifice access to high-quality investments and thereby jeopardize returns, which will ultimately hurt Florida’s citizens. Fiduciaries should always value performance over politics.”

Yeah, no. ESG is the politics part. Investing to make money is the fiduciary part. BlackRock is literally lying.

Here’s an interesting end to the story in Reuters:

"Other companies also face Republican scrutiny. Earlier this week, Republican attorneys general from various states asked a federal regulator to limit Vanguard Group Inc's activities over ESG concerns, and asked United Parcel Service Inc (UPS.N) and FedEx Corp (FDX.N) to clarify their policies on tracking firearms shipments.”

Exactly. Do massive companies get to simply ban customers from doing legal things? How about Rebel News, when we applied for a mortgage, and the Royal Bank banned us, because of our politics? That’s a form of social credit, like they have in China. It’s bad enough when governments do that. But now big companies are doing it, in partnership with government.

I fully support Ron DeSantis. I wonder if Danielle Smith and Scott Moe, the premiers of Ab and Sask, might do the same. I mean, why should Alberta and Sask citizens invest their money in funds that defame and abuse Alberta’s oil and gas industry, but don’t raise a peep about. Imagine obeying a junk science eco-cult that says a Chinese oil company operating in OPEC regimes is more ethical than Canadian oil companies operating here at home.

Yeah, the only question I have is: will Canadian conservatives join Ron DeSantis in finally doing the right thing?

GUEST: Ian Miles Cheong

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