Who really politicizes finance? | Analysis News

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Allison Ball is the Kentucky State Treasurer. She is one of many state treasurers who have taken a stand against woke capital.

I recently spoke with Allison on my podcast Meeting of the minds. Below are some highlights from that discussion, slightly edited for clarity and length.



Jarry:
The attorneys general are now starting to do some things to really push that back. And what I see in As You Sow and the ESG industry complex is that “these politicians are politicizing finance. They’re bringing politics to finance.” How about that?

Allison: It’s funny to hear them say that, because it’s quite the opposite. What we’re trying to do is bring finance back to finance. We do not want pension money to be used for political purposes. Period. We want it to be used as an investment. What it was meant to be: Milton Friedman’s old approach to making sure you get good returns. There are treasurers on both sides of the aisle, and we shouldn’t be promoting a political production or another political production. It should only be good investments, good returns. It’s crazy what people who push ESG say were those who are political, because the only people who are trying to advance small political agendas, are those who are pushing ESG.

Jarry: Just look at the origins: the theoretical foundation for this one came from a leftist academic sociologist and then it went to the United Nations. The United Nations Environment Project commissioned the first study on “environmental social governance” in 2005. It came from the United Nations. It didn’t even come from university finance departments, much less from financial institutions, it came from academia and the UN. And if a group, if the liberals say it’s not political and the conservatives say it’s political, it’s political. I just can’t find conservatives pushing ESG, I can only find liberals pushing ESG. So to say it’s not political doesn’t pass the smell test in my opinion.

Allison: I agree. It does not stand up to scrutiny.

Jarry: And the institutions that drive it are almost always ideologically committed. If you look at these proxies and say, “who is Arjuna Capital?” or what is “such and such education fund?” and you go to the website, it is absolutely clear that there is a political agenda. So take it, be honest: it’s an attempt to impose liberalism using the financial process.

There are three things that you were directly involved in that I think are very important. One works with the legislature. Because there are some things treasurers can do themselves, and there are some things they have to do with the legislature: work with the legislature to reform the law so that a company that attacks one of your main industries, fossil fuels, not being eligible for procurement for major government contracts. Because you don’t want to help organizations that try to hurt your economy.

Allison: You are referring to a bill that we passed last year, we called it “The Fossil Fuel Boycott Bill”. Kentucky is a fossil fuel producing state. We are a coal state. We have been for a long time. We are also an oil and gas state. I’m from eastern Kentucky, I’m from the mountains, and there’s coal, oil, and gas. These are things that I have always grown up knowing are incredibly important to my state, and they are important to the whole country.

So economically we have to have these industries in Kentucky. They are our life force, we need them to continue. Even our businesses depend on it, because we had cheap energy in Kentucky because we had access to these things. So while I was watching ESG, and the “E” used very strongly to try to eliminate the fossil fuel industry, to try to make it disappear, we lobbied for this bill. What we’ve said is if you’re a company that’s said you want to boycott fossil fuels, you want to phase them out, then we’re not going to do business with you in Kentucky. We are not going to have a state contract with you, nor are we going to include you in our investments. We’re going to divest you, we’re not going to put you in our portfolio to begin with. You will not be part of what we do in Kentucky. If you’re going to boycott us, we’re going to boycott you.

I think it’s important for other states to know as well, whether you’re a fossil fuel-producing state or not, that’s an important question. We cannot be economically sound as a country if we do not have a solid source of energy. And right now, it’s fossil fuels. We can’t eliminate it right now, and we see that happening in Germany, where they’ve really pushed to try to eliminate things for a long time. And now they’re looking at not having enough energy, or having incredibly expensive energy. So while this is big in Kentucky, it should mean something to everyone.

Jerry Bowyer is a financial economist, president of Bowyer Research and author of “The Maker Versus the Takers: What Jesus Really Said About Social Justice and Economics.”

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