As with everything else in this country, investment is polarizing, red vs. blue. Just on Dec. 1, the red state of Florida announced that it was divesting itself from BlackRock, the multi-trillion-dollar Manhattan-based money trust that has gone woke.
In the words of Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, Jimmy Patronis, “BlackRock CEO Larry Fink is on a campaign to change the world.”
To that end, Patronis continued, the company “has leaned heavily into Environmental, Social, and Governance standards — known as ESG — to help police who should, and who should not gain access to capital.”
ESG, of course, is the corporate form of wokeness, and red states — and red-state-minded Americans wherever they might live — should fear it.
Why? Because capital means jobs and growth. BlackRock — which we might as well call WokeRock, or BlueRock — does indeed have a strong grip, and Fink hasn’t hesitated to put on the squeeze.
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In a 2020 open letter, Fink mentioned “climate” 29 times. “The evidence on climate risk is compelling investors to reassess core assumptions about modern finance,” Fink said.
And so the company and its trillions, he pledged, would be at the forefront of that reassessment, starting with tapering off investment in the carbon-fuels industry.
As a result, in the tart words of Sen. Ted Cruz earlier this year, “There’s a Larry Fink surcharge. Every time you fill up your tank, you can thank Larry for the massive and inappropriate ESG pressure.” In other words, BlueRock is now the foe of not only oil, gas, and coal — which employs, directly, more than a million Americans, and indirectly, millions more — but of automobile-dependent red-state America.
Fortunately, red-states are fighting back, not just with words, but with deeds: money deeds.
Back in January, West Virginia’s treasurer, Riley Moore, was blunt: “Larry Fink has been outspoken in pressuring corporate leaders to commit to investment goals that will undermine reliable energy sources like coal, natural gas and oil.” And so, Moore declared, on behalf of the Mountaineer State’s pension money, bye bye BlueRock.
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Since then, Arkansas, Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina and Utah have also announced that they are withdrawing some or all of their funds from BlueRock. This divestment trend is likely to continue, spreading to other blues, as activist groups, such as the State Financial Officers Foundation, headquartered in Shawnee, Kansas, accelerate the mission of combating ESG.
Moreover, there’s likely to be a private-sector version of this anti-woke/ESG trend. Already, a conservative watchdog site, 2ndVote, rates the ideological tilt of all big American companies; it finds big banks and investment houses to be among the wokest.
Thus the question to conservative Americans: Do you want your money with the woken? Already, there’s at least one avowed alternative: Oklahoma-based Old Glory Bank, which is federally insured, describes itself as, “The bank for people who believe in love of country, respect for the flag, and appreciate the military, law enforcement and first responders.”
Given the deepening red-blue divide, here’s a layup prediction: There’ll be a lot more of that sort of values-conscious positioning. So BlackRock, and all other blue firms, will continue to hemorrhage red-state money.
In the meantime, as part of a national equilibrium process, red-state financial ecosystems will emerge, far from the blue dots. Eventually, a RedRock will arise.
By contrast, Florida and Texas, to name two business-friendly red states, have no such income taxes. And so a Manhattan money manager could save a lot of money — and perhaps a mugging — by moving to, say, Miami or Dallas.
Given the big bucks at stake in that sort of differential, as the red-state alternative matures, the hypothetical RedRock might end up becoming THE Rock.
James P. Pinkerton, a former White House domestic policy aide to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, has been a Fox News contributor since 1996.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Free Press.