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Biden Protects ESG Investment Choices; Noem Preaches Communist Thought Control

President Joe Biden issued his first veto yesterday, killing a bill that would have reversed his administration’s rule allowing pension managers to consider environmental, social, and corporate governance issues in deciding where to invest their clients’ money.

Last week Governor Kristi Noem joined Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and 17 other Republican governors in signing a letter vowing to fight ESG investment. Noem and her co-signers claim that ESG “is a direct threat to the American economy, individual economic freedom, and our way of life, putting investment decisions in the hands of the woke mob”.

Noem claims that opposing ESG investing is standing up for Americans’ hard-earned money. But I don’t feel stood up for. Quite the contrary: I feel like she’s trying to force me to invest my money the way her anti-woke mob prefers.

I’ve considered environmental, social, and governance factors since the beginning of my retirement planning. I don’t actively scour the Internet for news and corporate prospecti indicating whether each company in which I invest is toeing every political line I draw (there is no such company, for anyone). But I’ve told our investment advisor to lean our portfolio toward environmentally and socially responsible companies—e.g., not Big Oil, and not Facebook. Does Kristi Noem really think she should call my financial advisor and tell him to ignore my wishes and invest my hard-earned money the way she and Ron DeSantis want?

Capitalism is based on allowing individuals to invest their money in whatever they wish. Evidently there are a lot of people like me who want to invest their money in companies that produce environmentally sustainable products, provide better working conditions, or otherwise work to make the world a better place. ESG investors may not constitute a majority of investors or investment capital, but there are evidently enough of us that some companies can draw capital by advertising their ESG bona fides and some mutual fund managers can make a buck offering products that satisfy our conscientious investing desires. There are plenty of other investors who tell their advisors, the only nice thing the companies in my portfolio need to do is make me a ton of money! Self-interest varies, and the market responds to that self-interest.

But suppose more companies decide it is in their self-interest to invest in green technology, to stop using fossil fuels, and to reduce their carbon emissions to avert the rising climate catastrophe and preserve a functional economy. Suppose more managers decide that sustainable economic growth requires adopting policies that stamp out racism and sexism and allow more people to get and keep good jobs. Suppose the Invisible Hand—market forces, or perhaps the “capitalist mob”—tips the majority of capital toward environmental, social, and governance practices that Kristi Noem and a few other diehard oily conservatives don’t like. Would Noem and her conservatives really argue that we should veto the decision of the market and replace it with her investment preferences? Do Noem and her friends propose requiring Americans to blindly throw their money in a communal pot and let a committee of government appointees invest that communal money in the companies they favor?

President Biden’s veto of the ESG bill upholds my capitalist right to invest my money as I see fit. Noem’s effort to tell us what to think about and what not to think about when we invest our money ends in one bad way: communist thought control.


  1. sx123 2023-03-21

    As long as people aren’t forced to only invest in alleged ESG certified companies.

    Because I’ll argue, that although I like EVs, the stark reality is that the batteries are structural, not easily replaced, and until that changes, I want to see the math if they’re truly green.

    In other words, all ESG certifications better have some serious math and evidence backing them up or what will end up happening is that money will only flow to the ESG companies and innovation will be stifled by an assured amount of overhead for startups. Big companies will be fine, they have the resources.

  2. Steven Pearson 2023-03-21

    If they’re truly green?????? Hey libs, why don’t you protest about lithium and other special mining. Talk about environmental destruction. You’re all liars.

  3. Richard Schriever 2023-03-21

    sx 123 – Saying “money will only flow to the ESG companies” is hyperbolic hooey. There will always be a significant cadre of investors whose ONLY concern is profits/dividends. I agree, investors who CHOOSE to center their decisions on where to invest had better be sure about the bona fides of their investment targets are. But that’s true no matter what frame of focus they base their investment decisions on. The bill Cory writes on above, as well as the screaming meemies on the “anti-woke” side want is a PROHIBITION against freedom of choice. Now what topic have we seen that from them in before?

  4. sx123 2023-03-21

    It is not hooey. Sweden is requiring esg for inclusion in its $90 billion pension fund for example.

    Anyhow, math and physics always win in the end.

    If a company is alledgedly ESG, great, nice to know, maybe I’ll throw some retirement money at it, IF _it’s profitable_.

  5. All Mammal 2023-03-21

    I agree with sx123. I would like to know there is a repudiated expectations checklist we can access with explanations for each grade. The criterion should cover each of the categories such as employee treatment, net carbon use, innovations, charitable contributions, buyback stock info, etc. We should have as much uniform, reliable info as possible to base investment decisions on as possible.

  6. Mark Anderson 2023-03-21

    Sx123, but Republican’s love Sweden since they also restrict some early trans treatment. You just can’t trust those Scandinavians.
    By the way, has California ever gone after Disney like the DeSantimonious?

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-03-21

    SX123 mentions Sweden’s inclusion of ESG principles in its state pension fund. Does the state have any less right to promote good environmental, social, and governance practices with its pension investments than it does to ban pension investment in pro-Israeli companies, or in companies that boycott Israel, or in Chinese-owned companies that pose a risk to national security?

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-03-21

    I agree with Richard that it seems unlikely that every investor would adopt ESG principles, but so what if money did flow only to ESG companies? Even if ESG companies produced lower returns than unscrupulous employers and exploiters of the Earth, aren’t people free to invest their money as they see fit? Lots of times we see people throwing their money away on bad investments, but as good capitalist lovers of freedom, we shrug and say, “Well, it’s your money.”

    Even if I don’t have all the math and evidence SX123 needs to be persuaded to invest in green companies, even if I do the math wrong and read the evidence wrong and invest in companies aren’t as green as I think they are or/and won’t produce the return on investment that I’d get from picking other companies in other mutual funds, is it really the government’s place to intervene and restrict my investment choices? It’s my money, right?

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-03-21

    Steven, I feel like Noem is the liar here, saying she’s all about freedom and capitalism but presuming to dictate how I invest my money. If I become Governor, can I pass laws requiring that you invest only in companies that match my ideological agenda?

  10. Arlo Blundt 2023-03-21

    Richard is correct at least as far as my family’s investment decisions. I’m very traditional at this stage of my life, looking to preserve the capital I’ve acquired and investing in orthodox funds. My wife is more of an ESG investor though she often has trouble convincing her fund manager to put her money in “socially responsible” companies. I’d prefer not to invest in oil companies, big Pharma, and anything associated with the Musk fellow. The Market operates under its’ own morality.

  11. Nick Nemec 2023-03-21

    I don’t have any money invested in Swedish pension funds.

  12. Mark Anderson 2023-03-21

    It’s really just so hilarious that the freedom loving GOP now is putting pressure on every industry in every red state while claiming freedom in each one. The country has just gone beyond what they can stand and they won’t stands for more.

  13. Mark Anderson 2023-03-22

    Bye the way Steve All Men, are Liars by Nick Lowe is the song for you.

  14. Donald Pay 2023-03-22

    Steve Pearson has a point. We don’t have a good way to be totally pure and odor free in our society, but we can be more responsible. When it comes to my investments, it’s all a matter of minimizing impacts and doing as much good as I can.

  15. All Mammal 2023-03-22

    I only invest in people. They’re green and worth it.

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