- The Washington Times - Friday, December 2, 2022

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rocked recent headlines with an announced intent to pull $2 billion worth of state employee investments with BlackRock over the firm’s Environment, Social and Governance, or ESG, standards.

The woke firm run by woke CEO Larry Fink is finally facing some much-needed fire.

As Sen. Ted Cruz charged on CNBC in May: Fink’s insistence that companies that do business with his business fall in line with his own personal political views “is not capitalism” so much as it “is abusing the market.” 

BlackRock is the world’s largest money manager, overseeing roughly $10 trillion in investments. In addition, BlackRock runs a technology platform that oversees more than $21 trillion in assets. That makes Fink the guy who holds the fate of $10 trillion worth of investments in his hand — and the guy the governments of the world, including in America, as well as the financiers and bankers of the world, including the Federal Reserve, go to for just about all money-making decisions.

“During the global financial crisis of 2007-2009, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York asked BlackRock’s FMA division to handle assets of Bear Stearns and AIG, both on the verge of collapsing,” Business Insider wrote in March.

There’s a saying about absolute power.

“BlackRock: The secret world power,” DW wrote back in 2015.

It corrupts — absolutely.

Fink has made no secret about his revisioning of BlackRock from a profit-driven corporation to a social-conscious corporation. In 2020, in a letter to CEOs of the companies BlackRock taps for investment, Fink wrote, “Climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects.” In 2022, in a letter to CEOs, Fink wrote, “Employees are increasingly looking to their employer as the most trusted, competent, and ethical source of information — more so than government, the media, and NGOs.”

That’s how BlackRock came to be one of the world’s most effective pushers of radical environmental regulatory controls — by taking over the world’s investments and by making it impossible for businesses that bucked the ESG standards to partake in the financial pot controlled by Fink and his government partners. Fink is more bully than businessman. He’s a blackmailer, exploiting the capitalistic system that make him wealthy for personal agendas and vendettas.

As Financial Times put it, Fink “has pushed companies to cut their carbon emissions and threatened to drop laggards from actively managed funds” — a threat that Republican-run states have increasingly found ways to counter.

Florida’s yank of $2 trillion of state employee investment funds from BlackRock is a principled move to reel in a wayward business that has grown so large and influential its CEO actually believes is more important than government, than media, than the Constitution, than capitalism.

But Florida’s not the first.

South Carolina’s state treasurer announced a couple months ago he was pulling $200 million from BlackRock before year’s end. Louisiana’s state treasurer John Schroder said he was pulling $749 million from BlackRock. Utah’s treasurer, Marlo Oaks, yanked $100 million; Arkansas, meanwhile, pulled $125 million over the course of 2022. Missouri pulled $500 million. Meanwhile, in August, 19 attorneys general joined forces to slam BlackRock in a letter about ESG investments, saying in part, “Fiduciary duty is not lip service” and demanding explanation for investment actions that “appear to have been motivated by interests other than maximizing financial return.”

That’s a wordy way of warning BlackRock to stay in its lane.

“Our states will not idly stand for our pensioners’ retirements to be sacrificed for BlackRock’s climate agenda,” the gang of 19 wrote. “The time has come for BlackRock to come clean on whether it actually values our states’ most valuable stakeholders, our current and future retirees, or risk losses even more significant than those caused by BlackRock’s quixotic climate agenda.”

That’s a much-needed face slap for a company run by a CEO who’s frankly grown too big for his britches and requires a massive reminder about who really runs things in America: the citizens.

Businesses should be allowed to grow as much as their owners want and capitalism should be allowed to soar free and unfettered. But not at the expense of America’s Constitution. Not at the expense of individual rights. 

America, in the end, is a democratic-republic, not an oligarchy. BlackRock is a business entity, not a government organization. Larry Fink is a CEO, not an elected official. And Democrats are only anti-Big Business when Big Business puts profit before agenda. This means Republicans need to step up, in full force, and follow the examples set by the few — the Florida, the South Carolina, the Missouri and the rest — and divest from BlackRock’s investments to send a clear message to Fink: Blackmail and exploitation are not sound business practices. It’s not just money at stake. It’s the fate of the free market.

Capitalism only works so long as the capitalists are moral and principled and virtuous and subservient to the Constitution.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter and podcast by clicking HERE. Her latest book, “Lockdown: The Socialist Plan To Take Away Your Freedom,” is available by clicking HERE  or clicking HERE or CLICKING HERE.

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