It’s time to stand up to BlackRock’s agenda | WORLD
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It’s time to stand up to BlackRock’s agenda

A closer look at growing activism in corporate America

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink Associated Press/Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision (file)

It’s time to stand up to BlackRock’s agenda
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“I didn’t realize Larry Fink had been made God.” That’s how gadfly billionaire Sam Zell reacted to efforts in 2018 by the CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest investing firm, to promote a fundamental restructuring of our economic system into something called “stakeholder capitalism.” More than three years later, the church of Fink abides and was recently the subject of a write-up in The Wall Street Journal titled “Larry Fink Wants to Save the World (and Make Money Doing It),” detailing the immense power (and immense ambition) of the firm and its leader.

The Journal article explains the key roles BlackRock played in both the 2008 financial crisis and the government response to COVID-19, establishing it as one of the most influential actors in two generations. With that prestige and nearly $10 trillion under management, BlackRock is now among the most powerful institutions in the world. According to the Financial Times, roughly 80 percent of shares on Wall Street are held by just three large investing firms, of which BlackRock is by far the largest. By being the largest shareholder in innumerable companies, BlackRock has unparalleled influence over your pension fund, 401(k), and individual investments. What has it used that influence for? Social engineering and climate change activism, of course.

In addition to promoting stakeholder capitalism, BlackRock is one of the foremost advocates for “ESG investing.” ESG stands for environmental, social, and governance, an approach that shifts management’s focus away from the core business missions of the companies and the highest return for investors toward environmental and social activism.

Oddly enough, China, with which Blackrock is negotiating a massive deal to launch a family of funds, has conspicuously evaded BlackRock’s focus on environmental and social accountability. Stakeholder capitalism undermines the historic doctrine that managers work for owners (as in shareholder capitalism) and asserts that managers work for just about everyone: unions, governments, activist groups, planet Earth, etc. Of course, if you work for everyone, you work for no one.

BlackRock led the way in the widespread adoption of Business Roundtable’s 2020 “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation,” which advanced this new conception of the duties of corporate managers. BlackRock and others have replaced the primacy of the shareholder with an amorphous commitment to benefit all “stakeholders,” a category so vague it can encompass every single individual remotely affected by a corporation’s activity. And the corporate managers are the ones who get to decide which stakeholder gets primacy in each situation. How convenient.

Christian witness is no less essential in the corporate boardroom than in the political process, especially when corporations begin to rival nations in power, and their CEOs are likened to deities.

Stakeholder capitalism and ESG are essentially euphemisms for “your retirement is less important than the left’s social goals,” placing the financial interests of Americans with 401(k)s on the same footing as carbon offsets and the Equality Act (which Blackrock endorsed).

In corporate boardrooms across the country, BlackRock and other large Wall Street asset managers are advancing their social agenda with wealth and power comparable to entire nations.

Whether it is the elimination of the use of our most abundant energy sources, screening out gun manufacturers, or propagating the sexual revolution under the credo of “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” BlackRock can be relied upon to vote against the values of conservative Christians.

If you are troubled by the notion that corporations are more powerful than governments, if you think fiduciaries ought to be faithful stewards of their clients’ assets first, if you think natural resources are a gift from God to be used for man’s dignity, if you suspect that hiring decisions should be blind, if you think the conduct of companies in general matters for the course of nations, you should be concerned about the activist agenda that asset managers are promoting in your name, and you should be actively countering it.

With the explosion of interest in corporate engagement, and with BlackRock and other activists suddenly under scrutiny, the time for Christian investors to get involved is overdue. Larry Fink is not God, but God is, and all people and institutions are under His sovereignty. Christian witness is no less essential in the corporate boardroom than in the political process, especially when corporations begin to rival nations in power, and their CEOs are likened to deities. Christian witness in the halls of power is as old as the faith itself, and as power flees the state for the boardroom, our witness must shift as well. Jesus told His disciples to expect to “stand … before kings.” The book of Acts shows that happening. Justin Martyr wrote in defense of Christianity to the Roman Emperor Antonius Pius, St. Francis preached face-to-face with the Sultan al-Malik al-Kâmil, and Lutherans defended the Protestant Reformation to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

Christians, who have been commanded to disciple the nations, have for too long ignored the obligation to witness to the corporate giants that increasingly steer those nations.

Jerry Bowyer

Jerry Bowyer is the chief economist of Vident Financial, editor of Townhall Finance, editor of the business channel of The Christian Post, host of Meeting of Minds with Jerry Bowyer podcast, president of Bowyer Research, and author of The Maker Versus the Takers: What Jesus Really Said About Social Justice and Economics. He is also resident economist with Kingdom Advisors, serves on the Editorial Board of Salem Communications, and is senior fellow in financial economics at the Center for Cultural Leadership. Jerry lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Susan, and the youngest three of his seven children.

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