TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — The State Board of Administration, the agency that oversees Florida’s pension funds, has posted new draft rules regarding how these funds are to be managed. According to the text, only “pecuniary factors” may form the basis of investment decisions. It also adds:
“Pecuniary factors do not include the consideration of the furtherance of social, political, or ideological interests.”
These new rules would effectively ban ESG metrics from being taken into consideration when investing Florida’s pensions. The state of Florida manages $200 billion in pension funds and $40 billion in other assets.
“This is an important issue, because it raises the question of who governs society,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at a press conference on July 27. “Do we govern ourselves through our Constitution and through our elections, or do we have these ‘Masters of the Universe’ occupying these commanding heights of society – are they able to use their economic power to impose policies on the country that they could not do at the ballot box?” DeSantis stated.
WHAT IS ESG?
ESG is an acronym for Environmental, Social and Governance and is supposed to measure the “sustainability” of a company or investment. The E (environmental) aspects are based on “conservation of the natural world” and includes factors such as carbon emissions and climate change, biodiversity, water scarcity and waste management. The S (social) criteria include factors like gender and diversity, labor standards, community engagement and human rights. G (governance) relates to corporate factors like bribery and corruption, board composition, political contributions and lobbying.
As such, ESG is a form of credit score for corporations, Putting companies at risk of losing investor contributions, loans and financing if they don’t comply with “sustainability” metrics.
PART OF A LARGER CONSTRUCT
A closer look reveals that ESG is part of a larger construct of achieving global “sustainability” across all aspects of human activities, as stipulated in the United Nations’ Agenda 2030. The trend in recent years, pushed by nongovernmental, unelected bodies such as the World Economic Forum, is based on the concepts of “stakeholder capitalism” and “public-private partnership.”
One of the most notable and powerful proponents of ESG is Larry Fink, CEO of investment fund Blackrock, which manages $10 trillion in assets. In his annual letter to CEOs, Fink wrote:
“Stakeholder capitalism is not about politics. It is not a social or ideological agenda. It is not ‘woke.’ It is capitalism, driven by mutually beneficial relationships between you and the employees, customers, suppliers, and communities your company relies on to prosper. This is the power of capitalism.”
But some critics, such as entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, have voiced serious concerns over how this type of power is wielded, claiming that a world where political and economic power are centralized under the same umbrella undermines democracy and individual rights.
These concerns are shared by Joel Kotkin, Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University, who has written extensively on the subject.
“ESG is one of the greatest acts of hypocrisy in history – it’s about profit-maximization under the guise of virtue signaling. It’s not the job of these Wall Street types to say what you can or can’t invest in. It’s not the role of the private sector to regulate these things – it’s the role of government, and nobody elected Larry Fink,” Kotkin argues.
“To have standards created by the ultimate elites is completely self-serving. These people are not interested in competitive capitalism or upward mobility. The only choice that we’re being given is to be serfs to the state or to the corporations run by the oligarchs,’” Kotkin explains.
According to Kotkin, the so-called “stakeholder capitalism” and “public-private partnership” now being promoted by governments and corporations around the world bear similarities to the fascism that originated in Europe in the 1930s.
“This is what happened in Italy and Germany,” Kotkin warns.
For the next legislative session, Governor DeSantis has proposed legislation that will amend Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices statute to ban discriminatory practices by large financial institutions based on ESG metrics. In addition, he has proposed a law to prohibit big banks, credit card companies and money transmitters from discriminating against customers based on their religious, political, or social beliefs.