At peril of offending those claiming superior judgement and moral authority, some of us remain stubbornly resistant to delegating personal investment decisions critical to our security and family well-being to insanely powerful government agencies, institutions, lobbies and corporations that purport to know and champion our best interests.
I'm referring specifically to a pseudo-religious cult of behavior control known as Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) that seeks unilateral preeminence over economic decisions that influence the performance and security of our retirement accounts, choices regarding the forms of energy we use and cars we drive, and countless other aspects of our lives.
As a case in point, one year ago the Biden administration Labor Department proposed a new rule that will direct pension plan and asset managers to account for politically progressive ESG scores in determining 401(k) retirement plan decisions including assessments of impacts on workforce diversity, climate change and investments in sanctioned "green" energy projects.
In doing so, this will violate retirees' basic right to have their money invested solely to advance their financial interests whereby pension-fund managers as fiduciaries are legally required to make every investment decision with one purpose — maximizing client financial interests.
The Uniform Prudent Investor Act, a model law adopted by 44 states, makes clear that "no form of so-called 'social investing' " is lawful "if the investment activity entails sacrificing the interests of ... beneficiaries ... in favor of the interests ... supposedly benefitted by pursuing the particular social cause."
This principle, in fact, is built into the Employee Retirement Income Security Act itself, as the Supreme Court held in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer (2014).
The Biden administration can't change that by regulation.
We are witnessing — potentially experiencing — a very slippery slope to an ideological totalitarian value-determinate trend very similar to this that is being imposed through a Social Credit System by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that monitors, rewards and punishes people according to how closely their behavior conforms to government standards.
Social Credit scores are based upon an individual's financial credit score combined with the level of Chengxin, loosely translated as Morality or Integrity blacklists. These, in turn, are determined by government sanctions or rewards based upon expansive data-mined information including facial recognition surveillance.
An individual's score can be downgraded by infractions such as bad driving, smoking, buying or playing too many video games, unleashed pets, improperly discarded garbage, or disapproved social media posts.
Consequences of poor ratings include air travel, university application and employment opportunity restrictions among countless other punishments based upon whatever empowered oligarchs determine is "best for society."
Information technology is providing potently invasive tools for oppressive behavior enforcement.
As reported in The Epoch Times, J. Michael Evans, president of Chinese e-commerce and technology firm Alibaba, announced on May 24 at the World Economic Forum (WEF) that his company is developing an "individual carbon footprint tracker" to enable consumers — and presumably government — to measure their own carbon footprints.
This program, Evans said, would collect data on individuals about "where are they traveling, how are they traveling, what are they eating, what are they consuming."
Of course, this could never happen in America. Right?
It has already begun, and government mandates aren't the only ominous evidence. Banks, insurance and tech companies are getting on board the railroad to promised green ESG nirvana as well.
Swedish fintech company Doconomy in partnership with Mastercard has already developed a credit card that can track the carbon footprint of all your purchases, including food and travel, and cut off your spending when you hit a certain personal emissions limit.
Going even a carbon footprint step farther, for those who don't want to carry a mobile phone or wallet everywhere they go, a company named Walletmor has developed a chip, implanted in your hand, that carries your personal information. This enables you to simply wave away your privacy over a sensor to make payments.
As predicted by FICO, a data analytics consumer credit rating company, personal ESG energy scores may soon determine a person's ability to qualify for a credit card, bank or car loan, or home mortgage.
FICO warns that whereas in financial institutions much of the ESG agenda is delivered at the corporate level, "in 2022 we expect to see an increased focus on bringing ESG data into more granular lending and investment decisions" such as "the inclusion of property energy ratings data in mortgage valuation and decisioning, and CO2 emission data for small businesses."
Allowing financial institutions to serve as social justice arbiters sets a precariously dangerous political weaponization precedent.
Consider how Canadian banks selectively froze personal accounts of trucking COVID vaccine mandate protesters and their crowdfunding sponsors, instantly cutting them off from their own money, savings and income.
Closer to home, Chase Bank closed the accounts of former Trump national security adviser retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn in 2021 for "reputational reasons," and Wells Fargo made a "business decision" to eject Republican Delaware Senate candidate Lauren Witzke.
In 2019, PayPal revealed it was working with the Southern Policy Law Center (SPLC), a group it may be argued, possessing left-wing perspectives on issues of the day, and on organizations with which it disagrees, to determine who should be blocked from using its payment services.
Let's also not forget how in January, Bank of America, without due process or a warrant, mined the data of hundreds of personal accounts to see who had traveled to Washington, D.C. or purchased firearms around the time of the January 6, 2021, Capitol breach.
Recall that soon after that privacy invasion, the Biden administration attempted unsuccessfully to compel all banks to report to the IRS any transactions greater than $600.
The New York Post has recently reported that someone at Facebook has been spying on the private messages and data of American users over the past 19 months and reporting them to the domestic terrorism operational unit at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., if they express anti-government or anti-authority sentiments or question the 2020 election.
So no, don't count on any Beijing-inspired carbon tracking chip implanted in your body to keep these or any other private matters you care about secret either.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and the graduate space architecture program. His latest of 12 books is "Architectures Beyond Boxes and Boundaries: My Life By Design" (2022). Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.
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