Over the last several weeks, I’ve written a number of columns about the insidious “woke” ideology that continues to metastasize around the United States.
It has made a mockery of our national borders, with illegal immigrants spilling across by the millions.
It has decriminalized property crimes, which has led to widespread looting and higher prices for consumers.
It has led to the early release of violent criminals, endangering law-abiding citizens.
It has encouraged women and minorities to view themselves as helpless victims of a sexist and racist society.
It has added to the toxic tone of our national politics and has had a chilling effect on free speech. (Nearly 60% of Americans say they are unwilling to speak their political views publicly.)
It has infected Wall Street as well, with many businesses more interested in meeting environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria than delivering high returns to investors.
Woke capitalism is not about increasing sales and earnings. It’s about promoting a far-left social agenda.
This poisonous philosophy has now spread from faculty lounges to Main Street to corporate boardrooms.
For example, in a proxy statement issued before the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, SVB noted that 45% of its board members were women. It also pointed to the number of veterans, Blacks and members of the LGBTQ+ community on the board.
Could someone tell me what board members’ military status, skin color, genitalia or sexual orientation have to do with their ability to assess banking risks? The saying “Go woke, go broke” is only too true for shareholders of SVB.
One of the biggest offenders is BlackRock (NYSE: BLK), which manages $8 trillion in assets and invests on behalf of hundreds of public pensions and tens of millions of Americans.
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink proudly announced a few years ago that the company would use its proxy power – its power to vote on behalf of those whose assets the firm manages – to push companies to adopt extreme ESG measures and other woke policies.
The objective of money managers, of course, should not be to remake the world but to maximize returns for shareholders.
Woke money managers are doing a poor job of both.
Fund managers with a strong ESG tilt, for example, have underweighted or entirely avoided the fossil fuel industry.
That is a particularly boneheaded move. While the S&P 500 fell 19% in 2022, the S&P 500 energy sector soared 59%.
“ESG is a scam,” Tesla founder Elon Musk tweeted recently. “It has been weaponized by phony social justice warriors.”
The Republican staff of the Senate Banking Committee recently put out a report criticizing BlackRock and other major money managers, including State Street, for using their investing muscle to push for corporate proxy votes for measures advocated by the far left.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton recently joined 18 other states in a letter to Fink, challenging BlackRock’s underperformance in managing state pension funds due to its reliance on woke criteria rather than shareholder profits.
BlackRock’s underperformance is likely to continue not just for years but for decades.
Yes, the world is increasingly converting to low-carbon energy sources, like solar, wind and hydroelectric. That’s a good thing.
However, as Canadian author Vaclav Smil points out in How the World Really Works, it is a complete fantasy to believe that we’ll reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“We are a fossil-fueled civilization whose technical and scientific advances, quality of life, and prosperity rest on the combustion of huge quantities of fossil carbon,” he writes. “Complete decarbonization of the global economy by 2050 is now conceivable only at the cost of unthinkable global economic retreat.”
BlackRock uses your money to push for policies that undermine the U.S. fossil fuel industry – an industry that reduces poverty, raises living standards and literally fuels our growth – and is generating crummy results for shareholders in the process.
Don’t stand for this.
If you own shares of a BlackRock fund, redeem them. If you own shares of BlackRock itself, sell them.
Invest that money in companies that are not ideologically driven but driven instead to generate the highest returns for shareholders.