Democrats willing to weaponize ESG scores to punish Americans
In the United States and free markets around the globe, various brands and products are competing for your dollar based on their product value and price.
Consider the bakery aisle at your local grocery store – different types of bread ranging in unique tastes and ingredients to cost. Each company focuses on enticing you to purchase a mixture of water, yeast, flour and seasoning.
But today, top CEOs are abandoning market-based decisions to appease small groups of vocal extremists on the far left who demand they bow down to their “woke” agenda. It includes appeasing climate alarmists, radical transgender activists and abortion fanatics who want to silence the vast majority of everyday Americans.
Buying bread no longer becomes about flavor and price, but about favoritism and a political agenda.
Many Americans are right to be alarmed at the rapid increase in political activism and bullying among many of our nation’s top corporations. Rather than focusing on the well-being of their employees, customers, or shareholders, there have been several notable examples of large companies using their market power to push far-left political causes at the expense of everything else.
Americans need to look no further than Disney to see how dramatic and disturbing this shift has been. What’s more alarming is to what end Democrats seem willing to use government coercion to force companies to bully Americans for holding mainstream beliefs on issues like abortion, gender, education, etc.
Recent proposals in Congress from the left would add new responsibilities to publicly held companies. Rather than ensuring that managers focus on building good, profitable companies, these new metrics would mandate companies to care more about climate change, diversity, and a whole host of liberal causes above every other concern.
Just last month, President Biden’s Securities and Exchange Commission proposed a controversial and far-reaching climate disclosure regime for companies, including environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scores. It’s clear that Biden’s SEC wants companies to force Americans to change their behavior.
It’s not hard to see where it goes from here. By mandating liberal political concerns over fiducial responsibilities to shareholders, we are not far from a world where companies implement personal ESG scores for customers. This could be similar to a credit score, but these companies would be rating a person’s so-called ESG risk instead of rating creditworthiness.
As we’ve seen in socialist and communist countries, a social score can be assigned to individuals. U.S. companies could use ESG to discriminate against Americans based on their political beliefs and affiliations.
For example, want a mortgage on a new home but own two large, three-row vehicles? Sorry, your ESG score now disqualifies you. You must offset your carbon footprint before you are approved for that loan. (It obviously doesn’t matter if you are under the poverty line or have three children under the age of 6 that need car seats requiring a large SUV).
This kind of heartless thinking would lead to the largest loss of liberty in American history. There would be nothing to stop these scores from bulldozing your constitutional rights. Buying a gun could affect an ESG score.
Think this sounds far-fetched? It’s already been implemented outside the U.S., and a version was used in Canada to shut down hardworking truckers speaking out against vaccine mandates and lockdowns.
In China, a person could be banned from flights, denied college entry, have their internet speed throttled, or lose rights to their pets. A citizen’s score is at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party. The infractions that lower your score vary, ranging from not paying your bill on time to posting “misinformation” on social media.
Grading a business or investments based on an ESG metric system defined by out-of-touch liberal elites is bad for business and bad for American consumers. Extending that criteria to actual people is even worse – Washington, D.C., is not the best place to determine the value of Kansans’ lives.
The shift from a free market to social credits is dangerous. Instead, businesses, workers and consumers should return to the bread and butter of our robust, capitalist society that rewards those making better products at competitive prices for consumers who benefit from choice and maintain values separate from the totalitarian extremists on the left.
Utilizing ESG scores is a slippery slope that could easily lead to the government mandating companies to discriminate against you based on your political positions. Predictably, this has already led to discrimination against hardworking families who disagree with the cause being pushed.
To recover from the current economic catastrophe that Democrats and President Biden have steered us into, we need permanent policies that encourage active participation by U.S. investors to drive economic progress, rather than a divisive policy like assigning ESG scores that would put American families last and far-left special interest groups first.
Ron Estes, one of only a handful of engineers in Congress, worked in the aerospace, energy and manufacturing sectors before representing Kansas’ 4th District since 2017. He is a fifth-generation Kansan, former state treasurer, and serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Joint Economic Committee.