ESG Is ‘Terrifying,’ ‘Problematic’ Concept in Investing. Author-Financial Adviser Vivek Ramaswamy Explains Why.
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Conservatives have been sounding the alarm over the use of environmental, social, and governance policies as they relate to investments, particularly for private and public pension funds.
But, what exactly is ESG?
According to Vivek Ramaswamy, co-founder of Strive Asset Management, “ESG refers to the use of dollars—including your dollars—to advance environmental or social goals, in addition to what they’ll call governance goals, that are not implemented through public policymaking, through elections, or through democracy.”
Rather, they “are implemented through the economy instead, largely by buying shares in companies and then forcing those companies to behave in a certain way. That’s what it is,” says Ramaswamy, author of “Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam.”
Ramaswamy joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss the impact of ESG policies, what he hopes to see policy-wise from a Republican-controlled House regarding ESG, and why ESG is such a terrifying and problematic prospect for American investors.
Disclaimer: Neither The Heritage Foundation nor The Daily Signal provides investment advice. All material in this interview is presented solely as educational information, not as an endorsement of Strive Asset Management. We recommend that you seek the advice of a financial adviser in connection with all investment matters. There are risks associated with any investment and past performance is not indicative of future results.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Samantha Aschieris: Joining today’s podcast is Vivek Ramaswamy. He’s the co-founder and executive chairman of Strive [Asset Management] and author of “Woke, Inc.” Vivek, thanks so much for joining us.
Vivek Ramaswamy: Good to be on. How are you?
Aschieris: I’m doing well. I am so excited to talk to you today about ESG and your company Strive. But before we get into that, tell us, why has the stock market and investments become so political?
Ramaswamy: Yeah, it’s a long and complicated story. It dates back in large part to the 2008 financial crisis where what happened was, in the back of the ’08 crisis, Occupy Wall Street was on Wall Street’s doorstep. And what they said was that if you want to take those bailouts from the public funds, then we’re going to take your money and redistribute it to poor people to help poor people. That was roughly speaking the genesis of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
And what Wall Street realized was that, “You know what? We can come up with a solution because there’s a new version of the Left, not the Occupy Wall Street Left, but what we’ll call the new woke Left.” That actually was focused on different issues, not poverty or economic injustice, but systemic racism and climate change and misogyny and bigotry.
And so, the quiet bargain that Wall Street struck was to say that, “You know what? We’ll take on those issues. We’ll put token minorities on your boards. We’ll muse about the racially disparate impact of climate change or whatever. But we don’t do that for free. We effectively expect the Occupy Wall Street movement to look the other way when it comes to leaving our own status quo intact.”
And so, that’s a trade that worked well for both sides. That was the birth of this new [environmental, social, and governance] industrial complex where they used the money of everyday citizens that they were managing to then invest in corporate America and tell these companies to adopt one-sided political agendas.
But they got something out of the trade where their old enemy, which was the old Occupy Wall Street Left, was effectively put up for adoption by a newly ascendant woke, progressive Left that didn’t really love Wall Street either, but at least saw them as an ally in advancing their own goals.
And that’s really what happened for about 10 years, leading up to the Paris climate accords. When [then-President Donald] Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accords, that then supercharged this movement where the likes of Larry Fink, who leads BlackRock, the world’s largest financial institution, to say that, “You know what? If countries aren’t going to step up to address these shared global challenges, like climate change or systematic racism or whatever, then we the business leaders starting in finance have to step up to address those challenges instead.”
And that’s really when it took off over the last four years on the back of that further catalyst too. Long and complicated, but that’s a short version.
Aschieris: Yeah, definitely. And also, just to kind of dive a little bit deeper, how would you say that leftist policies are advanced through the stock market and investments?
Ramaswamy: Yeah. The way it works is simple but invisible. So, everyday citizens, doctors, nurses, teachers, probably people listening to this program, invest their funds either in a pension fund or a 401(k) account, or to a local wealth adviser down the street who invests their money in the market. But the way they invest in the market is actually to put it into funds that are managed by large asset managers like BlackRock, State Street, Vanguard, Invesco, and so on.
And what those investment managers do is, they have these funds, some of them are what they call index funds, others are mutual funds, but what they do is they buy up shares in publicly traded companies, including American companies. But when they buy a share, that means they not only are holding your financial entitlement, but they also gain the right to vote on your behalf on corporate matters. They also gain the right to speak to those CEOs and boards on your behalf as a shareholder.
And what they’re doing today is, when they exercise that voting power and when they speak to CEOs and boards and tell them what to do as shareholders, they’re actually telling them not just to focus on their products and services, but also to advance these other one-sided political agendas.
Let’s make that tangible. What does that mean? Means, in the year 2022, BlackRock and State Street voted in favor of a racial equity audit at Apple, at Home Depot, at other companies that did not want to adopt those kinds of policies, but were effectively pressured into adopting them anyway by their shareholders.
Now, you might think that you’re their shareholder, and you are if you have money invested in the market, but unfortunately, the party who’s representing you, say it’s BlackRock or State Street, for example, is using the money of everyday citizens to nonetheless advocate for these social policies that most of those everyday citizens, everyday investors in the market did not actually want to advance.
So, that’s how this happens and that’s why it’s invisible. But the more that people wake up to it, the more they can actually empower themselves to solve that problem with their own dollars.
Aschieris: Now, before we get any further, can you tell our audience about Strive and its mission? I’ve heard of Ridgeline Research before. So, can you tell us about Strive and the work that you’re doing?
Ramaswamy: Yeah, sure. I ended up founding a company about little over a year ago to address this through the market. I mean, I wrote “Woke, Inc.,” as you noted, I’ve written two books since then. So, I have three books total. A third one’s coming out this spring. And I write in the pages of The Wall Street Journal and go on TV and speak nationally about this.
And before this, by the way, my career was in biotech. I spent 14 years as a biotech investor and then as a biotech CEO. So, this is a new world for me and a new journey. But one of the things I realized as I was writing books and articles and speaking was that, yes, there’s some role for exposing the problem, but if we really care about addressing it, we’re going to need to do it through action, not just through talk.
And I had a skillset as an entrepreneur. I’d built a multibillion-dollar biotech company. I had had success as a hedge fund manager in biotech before that. Look, I have a skillset, let me put that to use.
So, how I put it to use was to say, we’re going to start a new asset manager that competes directly against the likes of BlackRock and State Street and Vanguard and Invesco by offering index funds just like they do, but a key difference, which is that we vote the shares of our clients and we advocate for our clients as shareholders to the boardrooms of corporate America to mandate these companies—Chevron, Apple, Disney—I mean, the companies that are the publicly traded companies of America to focus exclusively on excellent products and services for their customers without regard to any other social or political agenda.
No environmental agendas, social agendas, nothing other than those which allow you to be effective at selling your products and services to customers to maximize profit and maximize long-run shareholder value without apologizing for it.
And so, that’s the key distinction, is bringing a different voice to the table that, sad enough as it was, I did not see anyone else actually distinctively bringing to the table because of this weird cultural dislocation in modern American life. But as I said, no point in just sitting around and whining about it, let’s actually solve the problem.
Aschieris: Yeah, definitely.
Over the last few months, we’ve heard a lot about ESG policies, which I’m sure our audience knows, but it stands for environmental, social, and governance policies. If you were to meet someone who maybe has never heard of ESG before or might have a brief understanding of it, really doesn’t know the nitty gritty of what it is and what it could potentially do, what is your 30-second elevator pitch to someone?
Ramaswamy: Yeah. I would say it’s a description. Forget pitching anything, just, it’s a 30-second description. ESG refers to the use of dollars, including your dollars, to advance environmental or social goals, in addition to what they’ll call governance goals, that are not implemented through public policymaking, through elections, or through democracy, but are implemented through the economy instead, largely by buying shares in companies and then forcing those companies to behave in a certain way. That’s what it is.
Aschieris: And you just alluded to this in your last answer, but why is ESG such a terrifying prospect for American investors and even for society more generally?
Ramaswamy: I do think it’s terrifying, but it sounds friendly at first. It sounds like a technical toolkit. Here’s why I think it’s problematic. It’s problematic on two counts.
One is the one that Milton Friedman worried about, which is that it would lead companies to be less effective at making products and services. This is a good argument. If companies are focused not just on their core products, but also on these other social agendas, they might be less competitive, less effective at making their products, which in turn makes them less effective as engines of value creation, which in turn reduces the size of the economic pie for society, which leads everyone worse off. That’s a valid argument.
But Milton Friedman raised that decades ago. I think the thing that I have taken great pain to point out in the last few years is that there’s also a threat to democracy, also a threat to democratic self-governance itself.
Because what this new system says is that the way we sort out our disagreements on questions like alleged racial injustice or climate change or whatever, the way we sort those out under the ESG view of the world is not through free speech and open debate in the public square as citizens where everyone’s voice and vote counts equally, the system that we thought we lived in the United States, but instead that we sort those questions out through, effectively through economic force, where people’s voices are adjusted upward or downward by the number of dollars they control in the marketplace.
And to me, what’s terrifying about that is particularly terrifying from an American perspective. Because in this country, in 1776, we made a decision. We said that for better or worse, it’s not going to be the Old World, European way where people get together in a smoke-filled backroom palace enclave and decide what the right answers are for the rest of society at large. On the most important social and political questions of the day, we don’t leave to those people sitting in the backroom in the palace. We settle it as citizens through a constitutionally ordained democratic process.
And what the ESG movement really represents is that old worldview rearing its head again in modern clothing, saying that citizens cannot be trusted to deal with questions like societal inequity or climate change or whatever the hot issue of the day may be, that those issues have to be settled by someone sitting in a different backroom. It’s a backroom corner office on Park Avenue instead of the backroom of a palace in the Old World, European way.
But it is reviving that 1776 question again. And I think that’s just the most important thing to see about this, is that this really isn’t a Republican versus Democrat issue. It’s not a red versus blue 2023 issue, or at least it shouldn’t be. It is a 1776 issue. It is about aristocracy versus democratic self-governance. That’s really what’s at stake. And I think that’s why the Left and the Right should shudder equally when we say that the way you sort out your disagreements isn’t through the democratic process, but through this vector of force instead.
Aschieris: Yeah, that is really interesting. And you actually brought up something similar in a tweet from earlier this month that I want to talk about a little bit more. You write on Twitter, “I’ve traveled the country to meet with state pension funds, treasurers, and corporations. It is staggering how much influence BlackRock and [Institutional Shareholder Services] have wielded over these institutions. They captured the system in red and blue states alike. Time to bring new alternatives to the table.”
So this is a two-part question. First and foremost, why is it worrying that BlackRock and Institutional Shareholder Services are wielding influence?
Ramaswamy: It’s invisible is the worst part of this. So I think they’ve captured the system. They have gone to state pension funds over the last decade and a half and convinced them that this is indeed the right way to go, that ESG is the path for the future. And they’ve used that to build businesses that make it very hard for those pension funds to switch.
And so, people focus a lot about states and their role as regulators in ESG, whether they should be against it, whether they should be for it. Well, here’s the invisible part of this, is that states aren’t just regulators or policymakers or lawmakers, they’re market actors. Their pension fund system, I would say, infuses trillions of dollars of citizens capital, but by way of state pension funds that have aggregated that capital. And right now, those pension funds are disproportionately captured by the likes of Vanguard and BlackRock and State Street and Invesco and others.
And once you’ve been ossified in a certain way of doing things as a bureaucrat—these aren’t government-elected officials, they’re not people who have democratic accountability, they’re insulated from democratic accountability—that managerial class in the states starts to look a lot like the managerial class who’s in charge at places like BlackRock and State Street.
And I think that that horizontal managerial class that spans the public and private sector is working hand in glove to, I think, quietly suppress the will of the everyday citizen, but without the everyday citizen even knowing it, which is what just motivates me to be on this mission of education at the very least.
It’s sort of like Frederick Douglass. A famous story of his I sometimes take inspiration from is he was, when he was a slave, he was a young boy, one of the families he worked for, the mother was teaching him how to read. And when the father figure came home, he lambasted the mother when he saw it one day. He says, “Look, knowledge is not fit for a slave.” That was a striking thing to Frederick Douglass, who, as a young boy, like most young boys, probably didn’t want to be patiently sitting in a chair as a young kid being taught how to read.
But he took notice and said, “Look, if this is something they don’t want me to know this badly, that’s something I better learn for myself.” And knowledge was his ticket to freedom. He learned how to read and eventually it was his path to freedom.
I think that the same thing goes for everyday investors in the market today. They’re purposefully keeping this from you. I can tell you, for example, take the Biden Department of Labor rules earlier, or actually, it was last year, late last year, that expressly, it was a rule that was changed to permit retirement fund managers to take into account collateral benefits other than investment return, these ESG factors, specifically climate change.
And initially when they proposed the rule, there was a mandatory disclosure requirement to say that if you’re a retirement fund manager and you’re behaving in this way, you at least have to disclose it to the retiree whose money you’re investing. Guess what? By the time that final rule passed in December, they took out the disclosure requirement. Why did they take it out? They didn’t leave it to mystery. They said why they took it out. They said that they feared the disclosure requirement would have a chilling effect on the use of ESG factors.
“Knowledge is not fit for a slave.” This is the same mentality where if you want to be told to shut up, sit down, and do as you’re told, great. Not knowing what’s happening to you or with your dollars is a great way to do it. But I think that knowledge can actually be the path to liberation, to deliverance. And I think that that’s why I’m so focused on at least what’s happening with your kids, be that in the public schools, or what’s happening with your dollars, be that the way they’re invested in pension funds or 401K accounts or your brokerage account, you ought to know. …
Good homework assignment to everybody to empower themselves is, ask that financial adviser, ask that 401(k) account manager, “Was my money used to vote in 2022 for a racial equity audit? Was my money used to vote any time in the last five years for an emissions cap at a company?” And if it was, first thing they’re going to say is they don’t know. Tell them to find out, it’s your money, and most people are going to be in for a rude surprise. And then the next question is, “Well, why the heck didn’t I know about it?” And then, most importantly, “What can I actually do about it?”
And I hope that’s a vehicle for giving people not just their votes back, but their voice back. And that could hopefully be the first signal of positive change that we see in corporate America.
Aschieris: I do want to talk more about the questions to ask your financial adviser. I know that there is a video on the Strive website talking about these five questions, but the second part of my question regarding your tweet was the types of new alternatives that you are suggesting to bring to the table to help people and their investments.
Ramaswamy: Yeah. Look, I think we need all kinds of new alternatives, but most importantly, new alternatives that aren’t beholden to the existing orthodoxy. All of the major financial institutions today are signatories to groups like the Climate Action 100+ network, the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative, … the Task Force on Climate-Related [Financial] Disclosures, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board.
You know what? Strive as an institution and I hope others like us that form in the future are not signatories to these associations.
By the way, another big piece of it is many of these institutions also do business in China. If you do business in China, that means the [Chinese Communist Party], the ruling party in China that runs the government, will demand that you make certain commitments to earn what they call social license to do business in China.
Well, what’s one of the reasons I said on Day One that Strive will not do business in China, not because I dislike China, but because you can’t be a good fiduciary, a good vocal fiduciary for your U.S. clients if you have the boot of Communist China on your neck dictating what you do and don’t say.
And that’s exactly the position that BlackRock is in. That’s exactly the position that Invesco is in. And that’s why when [Chinese President] Xi Jinping says, “Jump, Larry Fink.” We’ll ask, “How high?”
And so what does that mean? I hope we have new asset managers. I mean, that’s what Strive brought to the table and is continuing to build as an asset management business. I hope we have new proxy advisers to compete with ISS.
So ISS and Glass Lewis, they’re these groups that advise investment institutions on how to vote their proxies, how to vote as shareholders in corporate America. But those two institutions alone, ISS and Glass Lewis, have over 95% market share in this marketplace. It’s a duopoly. And both of them have a historical track record of going straight down the party line when it comes to ESG issues.
That’s why Strive, I’m proud to say, recently launched a competing line of business. We’ll see how hard it is to break into that duopoly, but I just think we need more people willing to do what the consensus would say you’re not supposed to do, which is to stand up to this one-sided orthodoxy in elite society and polite company.
And you know what? I think that’s one of the reasons I felt that calling, is, I was educated at places like Harvard and Yale and worked at elite hedge funds and started multibillion-dollar companies. And I’ve lived in that world.
But it’s going to take people who are willing to speak freely and speak truth to power. And eventually that then restores some semblance of balance and true diversity of thought that allows, hopefully, CEOs of companies to say that, “You know what? I’m not going to bend the knee to this ESG orthodoxy just because you tell me to, BlackRock, because I have other shareholders who are pushing me to go in the pro-excellence direction, and I can at least be empowered to make those business decisions independently rather than having to embrace a one-sided model.”
And that’s, I hope, at least the better next version of the world that we get to sooner than later.
Aschieris: Yeah. And the next question I had, you addressed a little bit of it when you were saying the questions to ask your financial adviser, and there’s these five questions on the Strive website. If you could walk us through those questions and their importance and your opinion, what you think is the most important question for someone to ask.
Ramaswamy: I like to make it really simple. And I said it before, I’ll say it again. Ask your financial adviser, just, it’d be interesting as an experiment. Have some fun with it. Ask them whether any of your dollars were used to vote in favor of a racial equity audit at any point in the last five years. Ask them, at any point in the last five years, were your dollars used to vote in favor of an emissions cap? Were your dollars used to vote in favor of an executive compensation policy? How much a CEO is paid in a way that’s tied to ESG goals?
Just tell them to get those answers for you.
I mean, I could go on and on and give you a list of other questions too, but ask them those questions. They will say they don’t know. That’s an embarrassment. They should know because they’re investing your money. It’s not their money, it’s your money. So tell them to find out.
And if you find that the answer to one of those questions was yes—and if they were invested in funds managed by the likes of BlackRock or State Street or Vanguard, the answer is likely to be yes—then you got to ask them why you didn’t know. Not in a way that’s blaming them or whatever.
I think there could be lawsuits that people could bring on this. That’s a separate point, but the goal is just knowledge here. Why didn’t you know? And be curious about that. Get to the bottom of that. And I think that will teach you a lot about the way our system really works.
It was not an accident that you didn’t know, it was by design. But once you know, as Frederick Douglass, I think, inspiringly taught Americans a century and a half ago, right? It’s 160-plus years ago. That knowledge is the source of empowerment and deliverance and what you do from there.
Look, I think, I hope there are market alternatives that pop up. I think there’s a lot of practical things you could do, but most importantly, once you have the knowledge, you’re empowered. That’s what I encourage people to do, is, empower yourself. Not with physical force, but with knowledge. And I think that’s going to be our path forward.
And I’m optimistic that the tides are beginning to change in this country where people are hungry to educate themselves. You don’t just vote every November, you vote every day with your dollars and with your actions. And take that power back, I think a lot of good can come from it.
Aschieris: Now, I want to get your thoughts on this poll that came out from KPMG, a survey showing that one-third of Gen Zers said “they’d rejected a job offer because they didn’t like a company’s green credentials.” So Gen Z is people aged 18 to 25. This was a Business Insider report that I was looking at where I found this survey. What are your thoughts on this?
Ramaswamy: Yeah. So, I think you ask a great question, actually, I’ll say, because a lot of what I’ve been talking about so far is the top-down version of this, right? Cynical forces in the aftermath of the ’08 crisis, in the aftermath of Trump pulling out of the Paris climate accords in 2018, and other events that caused the BlackRocks and State Streets and Vanguards to work with the pension fund systems in this country to implement a top-down agenda that corporate America has foisted on them.
And that’s an important part of the story. But you raise an important point, it takes two to tango, right? And these companies wouldn’t be doing it if there wasn’t some demand for it amongst their employees or their customer ranks. And here, I think, is the flip side to that problem.
That’s actually why I wrote my second book. “Woke, Inc.” was my first book about what we spent a lot of this time talking about. But actually, my second book was called “Nation of Victims.” And it answers the question, it was a sequel, which answers the question of why it is that we have an entire generation of Americans that’s so hungry for these victim hood narratives.
And I think, you get to a deeper cultural question, even philosophical question. And I think that part of the issue is—look, I’m a millennial. You’re a young person as well. Our generation is so hungry for a cause, hungry for purpose and meaning and identity at a moment in our national history when we have lost the things that used to fill that hunger—faith, patriotism, hard work, family, these things have disappeared.
And that leaves a moral vacuum in its wake that runs so deep that that’s what allows poison to fill the void—woke-ism, transgender-ism, climate-ism, COVID-ism. Pick your favorite one. One of the things that I think the conservative movement has gotten really good at doing is playing a game of whack-a-mole one at a time and stamping that out of existence.
But I think if we really cared about solving the problem, we got to go upstream and fill that vacuum with something deeper. And I think that is a vision of American national identity that runs so deep that it can dilute this woke agenda to irrelevance, to satisfy that generational hunger for cause that a Gen Z person doesn’t feel like they have to fulfill their hunger by going to Ben and Jerry’s and ordering a cup of ice cream with some social justice sprinkles on top, which is how we’ve taught them to fill their moral hunger so far, but instead to fill it with more substantial fare.
And so you’re right, a lot of Gen Z people, when they respond to surveys, answer that they want companies to be taking on these social causes, but that is just a symptom of their deeper lack of purpose and meaning and identity.
And I would say that it’s an opportunity for American leadership and conservative leadership to step it up a little bit and actually fill that void with something more rich and meaningful rather than just complaining about what’s filling it now. And I’ve been one of those people who’ve been complaining about it.
I say this as a matter of self-reflection, but I hope that in the next phase, in the coming couple of years, we can graduate to elevate our own calling to more meaningfully offer an affirmative alternative vision rather than just the criticisms that I think people like me, frankly, have offered for the last couple of years.
Aschieris: Well, just speaking of leadership, and this is the last point of discussion for today, we’re about a month into the new Congress, and I wanted to get your thoughts, if you’re aware of any legislation coming from the GOP that’s focusing on ESG. And if not, what would you like to see?
Ramaswamy: Well, I was vocal about this in my most recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, so maybe I’ll close with that. I think there are no silver bullets. I think that market solutions have to play a role here. Solutions, problems that start in the market and the culture have to be solved in the market and through the culture.
But I think lawmakers can play a role at the very least in driving greater transparency in the system. To say that, if someone’s going to use your dollars to advance an environmental or social agenda, at the very least they have to get your consent to do it. They have to disclose that they’re doing it and then get your consent. If it’s going to be anything other than just maximizing pecuniary value, dollar value for you, they got to get your consent.
In a certain sense, we can look at FTX and [Sam Bankman-Fried] on TV all we want and say, “Oh, he used client funds without their permission to advance his own objectives, put him in jail.” Great, that’s fine, and let the court system sort that out. But you know what? We also got to hold everyone else to similar standards too, including in the ESG movement when they’re using client money without their permission to advance objectives that those clients didn’t consent to.
And I think that’s a role where lawmakers can at least, in favor of transparency and disclosure, play a role. And I wrote about that in The Wall Street Journal recently, and I hope that’s a defining North Star that shouldn’t be controversial across Republican or Democratic lines. It probably will be, but it shouldn’t be.
Ramaswamy: And I think that’s a course of action that I think many lawmakers can pay attention to.
Aschieris: Yeah. And just one final question, state level, are you seeing any ESG legislation or any bills that you’re following?
Ramaswamy: Look, I think that there’s a diversity and a patchwork out there and Heritage has done good work here. I think others have put out ideas for what lawmakers can run with. I’m a big fan of starting with low-hanging fruit. Federal or state, I think the North star of disclosure and consent, the idea that if you’re going to use someone’s dollars to advance environmental or social goals, you have to get their consent.
And one thing that I think it’s a trap that I see a lot of states falling into is that BlackRock is guiding them to think about ESG as just investing in ESG funds, funds that include or exclude certain companies and so don’t boycott companies and sectors. Well, guess what? Here’s the part that BlackRock doesn’t tell you. And I think that they’re duping a lot of states into this.
Frankly, I think, based on what I saw some recent news about Florida and [Gov.] Ron DeSantis reaching a truce pact with BlackRock, as Bloomberg reported a couple weeks ago, to say that as long as BlackRock doesn’t invest in their ESG investing strategies, Florida can leave their money there, well, part of the problem with that is that all of BlackRock’s funds, even if they don’t call them ESG funds, are used to advance ESG goals.
BlackRock itself has said publicly in other forums that ESG’s integrated into everything they do, including through their proxy voting and shareholder engagement practices. And so I worry that states, even states like Florida, are being duped into this by saying that, “OK, well, we thought we aren’t invested in ESG funds anymore.” Well, it turns out that isn’t the only way that you can actually have your money misused if proxy voting and shareholder engagement practices are still used as abusively as they are.
So that would be one cautionary note that I’d end with, is that it has to be disclosure and consent, not just for ESG funds, but for any fund that uses environmental or social objectives to guide their proxy voting and shareholder engagement practices.
And the reason that it’s very hard for the BlackRocks or State Streets of the world to offer that to states is that they’ve already made commitments to other states, including the likes of CalPERS or California’s pension fund, that require them to do that with everyone’s money. And that’s why there is going to be no Goldilocks solution. I think that the answer’s going to have to be, if you’re using a citizen’s money to advance those objectives, that citizen better have given you their consent. And if they didn’t, then there’s a real problem.
Aschieris: Well, Vivek Ramaswamy, thank you so much for joining me today. It’s so great to have you on and to hear some of your insight. I really appreciate it and always would love to have you back on. Thanks so much.
Ramaswamy: My pleasure. All the best, and we’ll talk soon.
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