The fossil fuel industry's coordinated campaign to attack responsible investing by turning Environmental, Social and Governance factors of a company's performance into an evil acronym ESG, a la CRT, has continued chugging along as West Virginia Attorney General and 20 others submitted a comment to the SEC about its ESG rule, but fortunately, there's increasing push-back to the backlash.
This week Ilana Berger at MediaMatters published a great overview of the campaign — from Pence and the Wall Street Journal to Sri Lanka to Elon Musk. It's a great explainer for those not yet up to speed, and the short version is that "fossil fuel industry allies are clawing to keep their power and profits, discouraging any corporate commitment to climate by vilifying and even prohibiting adherence to ESG standards while advancing pro-oil and gas legislation at the state and federal levels that prohibits investment and business decisions from considering the economic and environmental consequences of fossil fuels."
But it goes beyond just fossil fuels. As has long been part of the playbook, conservatives are steadily mixing in racism and anti-trans bigotry, because that's the emotional hook that gets their base excited in ways that sticking up for gas companies can't. In fact, they're explicit about it, with rightwing grifter and slow swordplay enthusiast James Lindsay posting on Facebook that “we’re going to do to ESG what we did to CRT,” which means: Lie about it until their idiot base has a visceral negative reaction to the letters and attacks everyone and everything they think it stands for or stands for it.
And disinformation really is at the core of it, specifically of the thinly-veiled anti-semitic variety. That's the gist of a great op-ed taking down another anti-ESG grifter, Vivek Ramaswamy, by Ryon Harms. Published in ImpactAlpha, Harms calls Ramaswamy the "Alex Jones of investing," who's "eyeing red state treasuries and the nest eggs of hardworking civil servants."
Harms writes that "Vivek Ramaswamy, CEO of Strive Funds, is a slimmed-down Alex Jones in Armani suits. He’s a smooth-tongued, Ivy League elitist, who condescends to the everyman by draping himself in cliched populist rhetoric."
Ramaswamy's campaign against ESG is "an extension of Alex Jones’ decades-long war on “the global elite” – itself a continuation of centuries-old antisemitism, with 'elite' standing in for 'Jewish bankers.'"
While Harms notes that Ramaswamy's has "a history of disdain for the working class he now pretends to defend" in that "as an undergrad, he penned an op-ed for the Harvard Crimson arguing against a living wage for the University’s janitorial staff because: 'I am disinclined to spend a few extra dollars on a needy Harvard janitor.'"
And now, thanks to the anti-ESG campaign he's waging with Republicans in charge of state pensions, Texas taxpayers have already had to spend "up to $532 million in extra interest in just the first eight months" after canceling a contract with J.P. Morgan Chase, who was servicing the state municipalities' debt. What a deal! Only half a billion dollars, for the added benefit of not working with "the world’s largest funder of fossil fuel extraction."
Unfortunately, this is likely just a taste of what's to come. Ramaswamy has a new fund, called Strive, that's exploiting red state money morons, but, Harms concludes:
Even if Ramaswamy fell silent and Strive Funds failed, the seeds of doubt they and their enablers so effectively planted will likely spawn a generation of unwitting Infowars investors risking their nest eggs in pursuit of the latest trumped-up “theories.”
They’ll learn before long that deliberately investing in risky businesses isn’t a smart way to protect and grow investments. But by then, it will be too late, and the teachers, firefighters and police officers whose pensions are on the line will be left with the bill.
Ramaswamy's InfoWars investing angle isn't bad because it deliberately invests in bad companies. It's also bad because it's taking advantage of the money managed on behalf of people who actually have to work for it, only for the Alex Jones of investing to swindle it away.