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Saturday, July 22, 2023

Links - 22nd July 2023 (2)

Jackie Chan lies about doing his own stunts. He uses stunt doubles way more than he admits to. He even fake outtakes to exaggerate his injury using footage done by his stunt doubles. : movies - "Basically, since 1983, all of the well known iconic stunts are done by his stunt doubles except for two. I know majority of the people here can't understand Mandarin, but the video shows clear footage and photos so it shouldn't be too hard to follow. The footage of interviews and pages from his books are basically him striaght up lying about stunts he didn't do and how he rarely use stunt doubles. Needless to say, after watching the video I lost all my respect to him. He's just not that good of a person. Cheated on his ex-wife, when he made his public apology he literally said "I made a mistake that all men in the world would make". (wtf? how are you gonna say all men are cheaters just because you're disloyal yourself?) Him sucking up to China throwing Hong Kong under the bus. I was willing to at least objectively look at his work and appreciate him as a master of his craft, but nope, it turns he's just a disloyal liar, taking other people's credit for his personal gain."

New psychology research indicates hatred toward collective entities inspires meaning in life - "Research published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology has revealed that hatred toward collective entities, such as institutions or groups – but not individuals – can bolster meaning in life.
This explains wokeness too

Over 50% of Singaporeans would forego luxury spending to build wealth - "More than half, or 53 per cent, of Singaporeans are willing to sacrifice spending on luxury items to generate more wealth, according to a study conducted by wealth management group St. James's Place Asia.  The study, titled "Accelerating the Wealth Journey – From Stability to Abundance", looks at 1,000 affluent Singaporeans between the ages of 25 and 64 categorised across five different levels of wealth – Financial Stability, Financial Security, Financial Flexibility, Financial Freedom and Financial Abundance – and how they approach areas such as wealth creation and inter-generational wealth transfer.  All respondents were from households with a minimum annual income of S$70,000 to over S$250,000 and held personal investments such as stocks, property, and funds. Besides luxury items, the study also found that 51 per cent of Singaporeans were willing to sacrifice work-life balance to generate more wealth over the long term, while 42 per cent said they were willing to sacrifice family time.  Furthermore, the study revealed that the wealthier an individual is, the more likely they are to advocate for sacrificing in other areas of their life to attain goals... More than half of Singaporeans (55 per cent) in the study said they do not consider themselves to be financially wealthy.  Overall, only 38 per cent of those surveyed said they were happy with their level of wealth, with 42 per cent saying that they would like to be wealthier, and only 19 per cent believing they are too wealthy... Across the board, the thought of losing wealth makes 92 per cent of the respondents anxious. However, the level and frequency of anxiety decreases with each level of wealth although this increases again when the individual becomes financially abundant."

Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg agree to hold cage fight - "Mr Musk, who turns 52 later this month, also tweeted: "I have this great move that I call 'The Walrus', where I just lie on top of my opponent & do nothing."  He later tweeted short videos of walruses, perhaps suggesting his challenge to Mr Zuckerberg may not entirely be serious. End of twitter post by Elon Musk  He also tweeted: "I almost never work out, except for picking up my kids & throwing them in the air."  Meanwhile, 39-year-old Mr Zuckerberg has already been training in mixed martial arts (MMA) and has recently won jiu-jitsu tournaments."
Jordan Peterson wants Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg to fight 'naked'
Musk’s mom tries to cancel cage fight

Effort for a more accurate regional basis butter vs. olive oil map of Europe [OC] : MapPorn

Meme - "Bikers who want to take up piano"
"Painists who want to start biking"

Meme - *Galadriel passes Phial of Galadriel to Frodo*
Belle Delphine: "$30"

Meme - "The difference between the three Abrahamic Religions:
Christianity: You talk to the ceiling
Judaism: You talk to the Wall
Islam: You talk to the floor"

Meme - Joe Barton: "Very much enjoying that this Mediterranean washing machine has special settings for if you spill tomatoes, wine or olive oil on yourself"

Experience the shocking power of Britney Spears without Auto-Tune - "Spears, who by now should be a recording studio veteran in every sense, is off the mark from start to finish. It's bad enough to be almost unlistenable at first, and doesn't get much better as the song progresses."

Meme - "Arigato Grande. Latiana Grande. Africana Grande. Biraciana Grande. Blackiana Grande. Aryana Grande. Caucasiana Grande. Naviana Grande.


Taylor Swift Eras tour: MPs upset after no Canada dates announced - "An Alberta MP is filing an "official grievance" with the House of Commons calling on Taylor Swift to bring her Eras Tour to Canada.  "It has come to my attention that despite much anticipation, Taylor Swift's Eras Tour has neglected to include any Canadian dates or locations as she released her international dates, with includes stops throughout Asia and Europe," Conservative MP Matt Jeneroux wrote"

Taylor Swift fans report 'amnesia' following Eras show - "Psychologists say emotions and time may be behind the phenomenon.  From out-of-body experiences to entering a dream-like state, Swift's fans - or Swifties as they prefer to be known - have taken to social media in recent days to reveal their guilt at not being able to remember key moments from the Eras tour... But Dr Michelle Phillips, a senior lecturer in music psychology from the Royal Northern College of Music, says the idea of post-concert amnesia is not as scary as it sounds.  It will rarely be the case that fans have absolutely no memory of being at a concert.  "In fact, it's likely to be one of the things they remember attending for the rest of their lives," says Dr Phillips.  "It's simply that they encode some aspects of the event in memory, and not others."  So whether you tend to focus more on your favourite artist's dance moves, or just enjoy being at a show with your loved ones, people pay attention to whatever is important to them - and encode memories of these things, rather than the music.  The old saying "time flies when you're having fun" is an easy way to think about the idea of post-concert amnesia."

Gifted schoolboy who earned scholarship to prestigious private school is jailed for life - "A gifted schoolboy who had won a scholarship to a £12,000-a-year private school has been sentenced to life in prison after being hired by a drug lord to kill a rival gang leader.  At the end of an eight-month trial – one of the longest in English legal history – Michael Mingoes, was convicted for the murder of Michael O'Connor in November 2021. He will serve a minimum of 28 years behind bars.  The bright 21-year-old had been hired to kill the rival gang leader over a county lines network worth more than £1million a year... 31-year-old O'Connor, who had been acting as a peacemaker between two gangs, was killed by mistake. Mingoes, who was 19 at the time, and his associates thought that he was the drug lord they had been tasked with killing... When giving evidence, Mingoes was scolded by the judge for his verbosity and told to speak in plainer English after claiming he had been 'subjected to a barrage of beratement' by two co-defendants as they fled the scene in a car.   O'Connor's family have told how they were left 'feeling sick' after one of their son's nine murderers taunted them in the public gallery."

Charles Knutson on Twitter - "Stolen from elsewhere: The gulf of meaning between the terms “horse play” and “pony play” illustrates why expecting your culture’s translation of another’s ancient texts to be 100% true to their original intent is dangerous and probably not a good idea."

Meme - "Reddit mod is furious that a Christian ad shows up in his subreddit. He laments that he cannot have full control over the subreddit at all times. "This violates the rules of our subreddit!""
"I've blocked u/HeGetsUs at least 30 times. Why is Reddit insisting on forcing hate propaganda down our throats?"
"These ads violate the rules of the sub I mod. It has a strict rule against proselytizing. Reddit refuses to take action. I've messaged the admins through modmail here multiple times. Our users have reported the ads. I get back meaningless form responses. Reddit doesn't care because these propagandists wrote them a big check. That's the only thing the current admins are interested in, clearly.
Edit: Not sure it will achieve different results, but I just reported the ads through this form as well. Maybe I'll at least get a new answer from a human.
Edit2: How on earth is this "Off topic"??"
Reddit mods (like Facebook admins) are "power" hungry

Meme - "Just remember that this was possible because he saved them from those below *One Ring being destroyed, Balrog chasing away orcs in Moria*"

FBI No-Fly Terrorist Watchlist Leaks, 1.9M Records Exposed
According to the conspiracy theorists, this is proof that there're 1.9 million terrorists being groomed by the feds, since every time something happens and the person was on a person of interest list that's proof the feds knew but did nothing/encouraged it because they wanted a false flag

What the Hell is Frank Cho Doing? - "Frank Cho draws a pretty superhero picture. And Frank Cho draws a sexy woman. Frank Cho has lately been drawing some pretty sexy superhero women and pissing people off."

ZIRP explains the world - "I know there is not just one simple, overarching explanation for all the weirdness in the world, but, for me, when I see a bunch of scooters strewn about a sidewalk, the first thing that goes through my head is ZIRP.  For the uninitiated, ZIRP stands for zero-interest-rate policy... Money is always swimming towards yield. Millions of investment professionals are taking tens of millions of actions, every day, to help drive capital to its sustenance. The entire global capitalist economy rests on this constant flow.  So what happens when you lower interest rates (especially to zero)? All those millions of little dollar-organisms have to change course. They need to find a new source of life... So all these dollar-organisms all start swimming towards riskier waters. Treasury investors shift to corporate debt. Public equity hedge funds shift to late-stage private equity. Late-stage private equity shifts to mid-stage, mid-stage to early stage. Seed rounds become bigger. Angel investors become a thing. Unicorns, unicorns, and more unicorns. Ashton Kutcher.  And that's how we end up where we are... Cutting interest rates spurs demand and risk-taking. The changed denominators of a million financial models make every investment idea look more enticing. If an interest rate is the cost of money, ZIRP means capital is now free... When that much money finds its way into places not used to that much money, weird things happen. It's how we got to Community-Adjusted EBITDA and sleep economies. You don't create a ridesharing service, but a service that oddly loses money on every ride with a promise to figure out some future business... We’ve certainly dabbled in the debate of “what is a tech company” but what we never addressed was why do companies do mental gymnastics to call themselves a tech company. It’s because venture as an asset class traditionally invested in technology because that is what presented the growth and return characteristics that matched their risk profile. So you try to call a desk rental or mattress seller a tech company... much of what we consider technological innovation is, in fact, business model innovation. I’d add that a lot of what is perceived as innovation is also some form of ZIRP-fueled arbitrage. Everything is ZIRP."

Woman warns plane passengers to 'beware of chatty travellers' after shocking flight experience - "A WOMAN has issued a stark warning to would-be plane passengers after a shocking flight that nearly saw her caught up in a drug smuggling bust.  The Nigerian, who goes by the name Igbo Pilot on Twitter, revealed she was targeted by an elderly woman on a flight to Dubai...   "I was let go with advice never ever to touch anyone's luggage either in flight or at the airport. So from that day, I don't care how much luggage you have, you will deal with it yourself. I will not even offer you a trolley to put your luggage on.  "'Your luggage, your problem' is my policy. And if you can't reach the overhead compartment and I am the nearest person, please call the cabin crew because all I will do is give you a blank stare and then look away! A lesson to glean therein for intending air travellers."... experts have warned travellers to avoid putting their home address on it - as it puts your house at risk if the bag is stolen. While families often opt to put their address on it in case their bags are lost at the airport, it is best to instead put on a phone number because otherwise, a thief will know your address and that you are not home.  Expert travellers also suggest taking a photo of your bag and storing it on your phone, along with the bag's dimensions to make it easier for airline staff to locate the missing items."

Conservative MPs furious after e-mails show federal officials worked on ways not to answer their questions - The Globe and Mail - "Federal public servants worked on ways not to answer directly opposition MPs’ parliamentary questions, admitting that doing so raised a communication risk, internal government documents obtained under access to information show.  Civil servants in the Natural Resources Department recommended the use of “limitation language” to answer the written Commons questions from Conservative and NDP MPs, internal e-mails show.  The revelation prompted Commons Speaker Anthony Rota to issue a rebuke Tuesday over the failure to fully answer written questions, saying more and more MPs were complaining about the quality of replies... Her question was branded “high risk” and the reply was framed using existing “media lines” used to respond to journalists.  The internal e-mails showed public servants referred to her position as a former opposition critic when framing the reply, saying because she was an “effective communicator” it raised a risk of her highlighting their failure to fully answer her question... In the Senate, Conservative Leader Don Plett said he has been waiting since 2020 for answers to some of his written questions. He accused the government of a disregard for “proper parliamentary process.”"
Liberal bias in the Canadian civil service is a right wing conspiracy theory

Watch: World’s first manned flying saucer stuns onlookers in China - "Developed by Shenzhen UFO Power Technology, the “iUFO” is an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that consists of a circular cockpit surrounded by 12 propellers. The transparent dome covering the cockpit offers the pilot a panoramic 360-degree view... he iUFO, which reportedly took three years to complete, is currently capable of flying at an altitude of 650 feet and speeds of up to 31 miles per hour for a maximum duration of 15 minutes."

An Ashamed Greenpeace - "Greenpeace won a case in the Philippine Supreme Court to suspend the sale and production of the recently authorised golden rice and a modified eggplant. But rather than the usual celebrations where the NGO gloats to their donors and followers about another great victory, for four days the Greenpeace websites and social media accounts have not mentioned this news at all. This was a more curious point than any legal victory in a corrupted judicial system.  After decades of fighting the commercialisation of golden rice (a grain supplemented with beta carotene), Greenpeace was seen to be unsympathetic to the malnourished in developing countries at risk from Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD), an affliction that kills millions and causes up to 500,000 children to go blind annually (source: Johns Hopkins). They also campaigned against the authorisation of an eggplant (Bt brinjal) that removed the necessity for smallholders to regularly apply pesticides to keep the brinjal fruit borer under control. This technology led to better work conditions for farmers and a more abundantly available vegetable staple in poor regions of the developing world. Both of these life-saving, empowering innovations went against Greenpeace’s anti-technology orthodoxy and for more than two decades they have been relentlessly trying to block their developments.   Greenpeace is fully aware of how socially unjust these campaigns have been, how it portrays the organisation as a cosmopolitan elite Western alliance trying to impose their affluent values on the poorest and most vulnerable in developing countries and how factually baseless their anti-biotech fear campaign has been. Years of constant criticism at the highest levels (including a letter signed by 110 Nobel laureates likening their golden rice campaign to crimes against humanity) has made it clear to Greenpeace that their actions against golden rice and Bt brinjal were destructive and unwelcome.    This hollow victory in the Philippine Supreme Court could only then be seen as a stain on Greenpeace’s social justice credentials and helps explain why they were rightly too embarrassed to publicly acknowledge their dreadful actions against humanity’s most fragile and precarious populations. So they stayed silent and pretended such a move to interfere with man’s fight against poverty and malnutrition was not of their doing...   Greenpeace has as many internal factions as the US Republican Party and keeping a tight ship with a common message is becoming well-nigh impossible for the NGO...   There was no choice for Greenpeace but to contest the recent biotech authorisations in the Philippines to appease their internal, militant anti-GMO wing. But at the same time, they chose not to communicate this “victory” to avoid enraging their social justice and development factions. They had a similar muted celebration several weeks ago in Germany as the last three nuclear reactors were shut down (in the midst of an energy crisis leading to an increase in energy impoverishment and an expansion of coal-fired power plants).  But couldn’t the NGO just tell their militant zealots to go hang themselves? They did that once, and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was born, leading them to cannibalise the whaling issue and delegitimise the role Greenpeace tried to assume in the wider fisheries debate. According to Roger Hallam, Extinction Rebellion was essentially born out of the inaction and inefficacy of the existing climate NGOs. On the biotech debate, there are so many anti-corporate militants ready to act (and an abundance of US tort law industry funding), that any backtracking by Greenpeace would create an opportunity for a schism and loss of further influence for the NGO in the lucrative anti-agri-tech game...   Shouldn’t other activist groups speak up and give Greenpeace a shake? No. NGOs never publicly disagree with other NGOs, no matter how heinous or unethical an organisation’s actions might be... when groups like Extinction Rebellion were disrupting public bus services or using children in their campaigns, everyone stayed silent. When activist scientists were secretly taking money from US tort law firms to campaign against glyphosate, the activists sat beside them in the European Parliament and just avoided eye contact. When a popular firebrand guru equated the use of pesticides to rape, no NGOs spoke up...   To make matters worse, by any corporate calculation, the NGO is bankrupt (not just morally, but also financially). Their membership and donation structure was built pre-Internet and fundraising costs consume the equivalent of two-thirds of every campaign euro spent. They completely missed the micro-donation, crowdfunding approach of social-media organisations that are generating most of the online activist engagement and campaign rhetoric."

Canadian economic productivity is in freefall - "Canadian labour productivity has dropped for the fourth consecutive quarter. Compared to this time last year, the average Canadian is now producing two per cent less during every hour they spend at work.   And it’s not like our per-capita productivity was all that good to begin with. An analysis by University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe found that Canada’s per-person rate of economic output is now on the level of some of the poorest states in the U.S...   “Given how closely wages are tied to productivity, this directly affects our living standards and, in my view, poses a bigger affordability challenge than recent high inflation”...   And overarching everything are OECD projections showing that Canada is on track to become the world’s worst-performing advanced economy.   In Dec. 2021, a report by the OECD predicted how GDP growth was expected to look in each of the world’s developed economic between now and 2060. In terms of “real per capita GDP growth,” Canada was ranked dead last...   Former Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole may well go down in history for running the most unconservative Conservative election campaign of modern times. His unsuccessful 2021 election run promised higher spending than the Liberals, and offered little to no pushback on Liberal moves surrounding gun control, immigration, transgender rights, government “anti-racism” initiatives and climate policy, among other things. And as he leaves politics, O’Toole’s main piece of advice was for Conservatives to try that whole strategy again"
I saw liberals dismissing this, saying only rich people cared about productivity

The Igon Value Effect - "'In the spirit of Gladwell, who likes to give portentous names to his aperçus, I will call this the Igon Value Problem: when a writer’s education on a topic consists in interviewing an expert, he is apt to offer generalizations that are banal, obtuse or flat wrong.'...
Gladwell uses "igon value" in an inessential way, to provide some local color in the chapter of What the Dog Saw called "Blowing Up: How Nassim Taleb Turned the Inevitability of Disaster into an Investment Strategy"... But eigenvalue really is a very basic concept in linear algebra, and the analysis of the   eigenvectors and eigenvalues of matrices is not just some ephemeral bit of esoteric mathematical fluff...
'The common thread in Gladwell’s writing is a kind of populism, which seeks to undermine the ideals of talent, intelligence and analytical prowess in favor of luck, opportunity, experience and intuition. For an apolitical writer like Gladwell, this has the advantage of appealing both to the Horatio Alger right and to the egalitarian left.'"

Flash Mob Dances To 'Another One Bites The Dust' At Funeral: VIDEO - "Wood lost her battle with tongue cancer in September 2022 and began planning her funeral at least six months prior to her death. At her funeral, her casket arrived late to the funeral, mirroring her always being late for everything.  Wood's casket was surrounded by high, sparkly heels, and her casket was bejeweled with the words, "Going out in style." But what drew attention to the funeral was what was captured in the now viral TikTok video: a flash mob that danced to Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust."  While attempting to arrange her funeral, reportedly ten other groups passed on the offer to perform at someone's funeral. Wood's friend, Sam Ryalls, eventually connected with Claire Phipps, the leader of the ten-person dance group the Flaming Feathers."
Better Video

Appreciate Your Blunt Friends: Those Who Speak Honest, Love You The Most

Meme - "Hey Papa, why do you love me?"
"Maybe I am biologically programmed to give you care and affection because you possess part of my DNA."
"Hmmm... Because you are super cool and cute and awesome!"

Meme - "Next time you think about violating the communit standards just stop and take look at these images *Mark Zuckerberg kickboxing*"

Nikki Haley on Twitter - "AOC and the Squad boycotting India’s democratically elected leader while they side with Palestinian terrorists and socialist dictators is exactly on brand. What an embarrassment."
Usually one cope is that liberals protest Western countries because they are democratic and so susceptible to protest, but technically there have been elections in Palestine

Why Are Women Under-Represented in Physics? (Women in Physics/CERN)

Why Are Women Under-Represented in Physics?

"CERN hosted a workshop on “High Energy Theory and Gender.” Nearly all the contributors to this and previous workshops on the same topic endorsed the view that gender imbalances in physics, particularly in the higher echelons, are predominantly due to sexual discrimination. The following phrases appeared in the presentations: “men mobilize their masculinity supporting…men in ways that advance careers,” “evaluators tend to favor men,” “scientific quality is a gender social construction,” “practically all women share the same kind of sad and unfair experiences since the beginning of their scientific career,” and physics is an “oppressive ambient.” One attendee claimed that only the military has a higher rate of sexual harassment, although she didn’t say which country’s armed forces she was thinking of.

In an attempt to go beyond mere anecdotes and measure the amount of discrimination, I did a bibliometric analysis using a public database of publications, references, authors and hiring decisions in fundamental physics world-wide over the past 50 years. CERN maintains this database, but nobody had used it for this purpose before. Certainly, none of the hosts of the “High Energy Theory and Gender” workshop had used it to test their claims.

The results that came out of this study did not fit the discrimination narrative. With colleagues, I spent the summer checking the data and exploring ways to present them at the workshop that wouldn’t harm our careers. We joked among ourselves about what would happen to the person giving the presentation, having discovered the fate of other scientists who made similar points. Our findings were scientifically robust, but nobody in our little group wanted to present them. In the end, I decided that I had the least to lose.

So I presented the results, discussed them with colleagues at CERN and tried to convey as sincerely as I could that the final sentence of my talk—“hope to see you again”—was not supposed to be ironic. As predicted, a storm was quickly whipped up on Twitter and elsewhere, misinterpreting my views and even inventing some statements and attributing them to me. CERN issued a press release according to which “everyone is welcome…regardless of…beliefs” and suspended me while investigating whether my 30-minute talk had violated internal rules, such as the “obligation to exercise reserve and tact,” “reserve in expressing personal opinions” and “communications to the public.”

I find it alarming that a scientific organization has rules that restrict free speech using such vague, subjective language. After five months, CERN concluded that it would “not pursue disciplinary proceedings”—to be clear, I have not been charged with violating any of the rules. Despite this, CERN removed all traces of my talk from its website, declaring it “offensive.” As Ben Shapiro says, “facts don’t care about your feelings,” and the claim to be offended is often used by political activists to silence people who don’t subscribe to their views. At some point, CERN removed my name from a physics workshop without telling me and I had to ask to leave.

Daniel Harlow, a physicist at MIT, and some other American academics, have been clamoring for me to be punished on a website/petition called Particles for Justice ever since I gave my talk. Two physicists independently reviewed “Particles for Justice” and discovered what they felt were “unethical misrepresentation,” “misleading citations,” “poor analysis,” and “unscientific attitudes.” They concluded that the “outrage” of the site’s creators and signatories was “misplaced and unsupported by the data they themselves cite.” Particles for Justice also contains personal attacks on me that aren’t supported by the facts. I ignored it until CERN put out a new press release on March 8, announcing that I’d left the organization. A new wave of attacks followed and I decided to put up the slides I’d presented at the talk, as well as an audio recording of the whole thing, on this web site.

I was told that I had grounds for more than one defamation suit, but decided not to sue. I complained to CERN that some personal attacks on me were made by people who included their CERN affiliation after their names and I’m waiting to see whether CERN applies the same rule to them as it did to me. So far, it hasn’t responded...

The percentage of women in theoretical physics and STEM is lower in Europe and the U.S. than it is in India or Iran. This suggests that gender imbalances in physics aren’t caused by gender inequality—if they were, you’d expect them to be higher in less equal countries.

Using citations, it’s possible to build bibliometric indices of scientific merit. The number of (fractionally counted) citations received by authors provides a reasonable indicator of their scientific merit. Data show that, at the moment they’re hired in research or academic posts, female physicists have on average fewer (fractionally counted) papers and citations than their male equivalents. As the careers of physicists progress, the initial representation gap doesn’t change much, and a second difference known as the “productivity gap” appears. This was confirmed by my data. The picture above persists after controlling for confounders, such as the higher average age of male authors.

Some colleagues don’t set much store by bibliometrics and it’s certainly a tool that needs to be used with caution. But the reason it’s used by professional evaluation agencies is because it works. Most of my results, which suggest that sexual discrimination isn’t the cause of the under-representation of women in physics, are consistent with what other experts have found about STEM fields more generally. A recent review summarizes these findings: “The overall picture is one of gender neutrality in GEEMP fields [P is physics], notwithstanding frequent claims to the contrary.”1

Based on the data we found and on previous literature in this field, gender differences in representation and productivity can be interpreted in terms of two main causal factors:

  • Gender differences in interests;
  • Higher male variability (HMV)...

The percentage of women is lowest in theoretical physics, philosophy, orthopedic surgery, etc. Students in physics world-wide (both undergraduates and graduates) are roughly 70 percent male—and this doesn’t appear to be due to discrimination... women are less likely to choose physics in countries with higher levels of gender equality3 and gender differences in interests is most pronounced in Scandinavian countries, where more work has been done than anywhere else in the world to level the playing field between men and women.4...

The relevance of HMV for physics and STEM has been discussed by, among others, the former Harvard theorist Lubos Motl, the former Harvard president Lawrence Summers, and by the former Google engineer James Damore. They were all attacked on political grounds, not primarily on scientific grounds. Indeed, in the polemics that followed most experts confirmed the HMV hypothesis, with different groups of scientists reaching the following conclusions: “Males are more variable on most measures of quantitative and visuospatial ability, which necessarily results in more males at both high- and low-ability extremes”;5 “Substantial evidence suggests that the male advantage in mathematics is largest at the upper end of the ability distribution”;6 “On average, male variability is greater than female variability on a variety of measures of cognitive ability, personality traits, and interests. This means men are more likely to be found at both the low and high end of these distributions”7...

Experts like these were not invited to the CERN workshop, so it fell to me to bring up their results. My paper with details of my analysis was rejected by arXiv.org, an open access platform, on the basis that it hadn’t been published yet. But arXiv.org is a pre-print bulletin and accepts other pre-prints, including those with politically correct but scientifically incorrect claims about gender. As an alternative, I put my paper online so that those interested could evaluate its correctness in a scientific way.9 I note that the mathematician Prof. Theodore Hill experienced unusual difficulty getting a paper on the HMV published.

CERN and arXiv.org are respected scientific institutions, but hiding “offensive” results is not a particularly scientific approach. Had I falsified the data to show that women are being discriminated against in physics, I have no doubt I would not have got into trouble—and arXiv.org wouldn’t have objected to me putting the paper on its platform.

Why are experts on gender differences in STEM not invited to conferences about gender in physics? Why are activists who claim to be advancing the cause of women in STEM falsely portraying the fields as being riddled with discrimination, including widespread sexual harassment, when that’s unlikely to attract more women? Why are scientific findings like the ones made by my colleagues and me described as “discredited” while academic journals in gender studies publish Sokal-like hoaxes? Why do some academics want to forbid scientific research on cognitive differences?10 Why has talking about these topics become so dangerous?

The answer, I think, is the one I put forward in my talk when I anticipated it would get me into trouble. Proposing that some gender imbalances in fields like physics might not be due to discrimination is like being a social scientist in the Soviet Union and proposing that some class differences aren’t due to discrimination. Indeed, in the present cultural and political climate, the shibboleths of identity politics have made certain things unsayable. An ideology that reduces everything to a power struggle between different identity groups is producing needless fragmentation and hostility. Reason and objectivity, once the bedrock of science, are frequently dismissed as tools of systemic oppression.11 Science that contradicts the dominant political narrative is attacked, particularly anything relating to gender. Scientific data about gender, like the ones I found, are deemed to be “offensive” when they challenge beliefs that are held as sacred. I used to hold these beliefs myself and when Larry Summers lost his job at Harvard I was pleased. But the data have forced me to change my mind. Surely, that’s what a good scientist should do?

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, some people, even scientists, cling on to a worldview that makes its adherents feel morally superior. It’s the same mistake the Church made centuries ago, when Enlightenment thinkers cast doubt on sacred religious beliefs... Academia should be a place where difficult topics are meaningfully debated, but scientific research on group psychological differences is now dismissed and attacked12 by those who are determined to defend their ideological positions. But the more that heterodox thinkers are ostracized in academia, the more credibility it will lose...

As before in our history, those who claim to be fighting against oppression have become the new oppressors. Some people think that research about group differences is bad because “race science” led to concentration camps; but the Blank Slate point of view (there is no such thing as human nature, all differences are socially constructed, etc.) led to re-education gulags in the Soviet Union and China. Extremism of all kinds leads to human misery. As Solzhenitsyn said, “[I]deology, that is what gives evil-doing its long-sought justification.”

Many colleagues privately consider the Social Justice cultists as minor irritants who should be appeased to avoid trouble. They suggest avoiding sensitive topics and “unethical” scientific research (e.g. those areas likely to produce findings that conflict with social constructivist dogma). While I understand and share their desire to sidestep political conflict, I fear that political activists will not avoid them. This ideology cannot be appeased; its most fanatical adherents claim that science itself is “unethical” because it leads to hierarchies based on competence. This is not a problem that disappears if you ignore it.

The present situation in some U.S. universities has been described by Heather Mac Donald as an unstable cohabitation between “a still serious system centered on the sciences” and an “unserious institution dedicated to the all-consuming crusade against phantom racism and sexism” and she has warned that “STEM fields are under attack.”13 Jordan Peterson confirms this: “STEM disciplines are the next logical attack point.”

The attack on the hard sciences follows the identity politics playbook...

To get a job, you now have to believe in equality of outcome. If male physicists are more cited than female physicists it must be because physicists are afflicted by “unconscious gender bias” as measured by the Implicit Association Test. CERN hosted a seminar about this, and nobody bothered to ask: Is there evidence that the IAT measures unconscious bias? Is there evidence that unconscious bias is one of the causes of gender gaps in STEM? Empirical science (the best method to avoid falling victim to biases) has no role to play in these debates, even though they are about scientists. It’s as if astrophysicists are being asked to justify themselves to astrologists...

Some colleagues who wrote to me to express their solidarity dared not sign their names. The physicists who criticized “Particles for Justice” have chosen to remain anonymous for fear of losing their livelihoods. Other colleagues worry that they are not close enough to retirement age to risk speaking out. During a recent seminar about gender and STEM at Sydney University, somebody stressed the relevance of individual scientific quality when it comes to hiring decisions, but did so in an anonymous paper. Critics of gender politics in science are increasingly hiding behind the cloak of anonymity to avoid career repercussions. Now, thankfully, those few professors who have dared to take a stand—Jordan Peterson, Janice Fiamengo, Gad Saad, and a handful of others, as well as a few courageous journalists—are receiving an encouraging level of attention. My expectation is that this political movement will fade away in a decade or so. We can only hope."

Links - 22nd July 2023 (1 - ESG)

ESG compliance by companies – all a farce?

Exclusive Poll: By Two-To-One Margin, Investors Reject Woke Companies Pushing Political Causes - "American investors — by an overwhelming margin — want companies they invest in to stop preaching and pursue profits, and they want no part of the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) movement... While 29% of respondents agreed it is a “good thing” for companies to leverage their financial power for political or social means supported by executives, 58% — twice as many — said it is a “bad thing.”... The poll puts hard data behind the backlash already seen at companies like Disney, where an executive boasted of the firm’s “not-at-all-secret gay agenda,” State Farm Insurance, which reversed a plan to donate children’s books promoting transgenderism to schools, and Netflix, which recently told woke employees to look for jobs elsewhere if they object to diverse opinions... most investors recognize ESG as promoting “more liberal positions” than conservative ones. While 50% believe the former and 16% believe the latter, only 21% believe that ESG investing is neutral.  When choosing their own assets, most investors prefer to focus on profits instead of ESG — and most believe that other investors should have the same opportunity."

ESG Investing Feeds Ecosystem of Rent-Seekers - "ESG is shorthand for Environmental, Social and (corporate) Governance. An ESG ETF is a fund screened to ensure that the companies in which it invests satisfies certain environmental (‘E’), social (‘S’) and governance (‘G’) standards. The ‘G’ tends to be rather less controversial than the ‘S’ and the ‘E’, but as Authers points out, citing academic research, quite what these standards are is far from fixed... One of the features of ESG is the return it offers, not necessarily to shareholders (I’ll touch on performance a bit later), but to a growing eco-system of rent-seekers ranging from investment banks peddling their own ‘proprietary’ definitions of ESG, to a host of consultancies offering their services both to companies to help them comply with these standards and to investors keen to be sure that they are putting their money in the ‘right’ sort of company. This confusion is also useful to activists, particularly those pushing the ‘E’ (and particularly those focused on climate change), for whom no degree of compliance is ever enough. As those aware of the history of some of the world’s more effective cults, whether political or religious, will know, the quest for ever greater degrees of a purity that is somehow just out of reach is a powerful way of firing up the faithful and bullying the unbeliever. Looking at performance, Authers (who is by no means unsympathetic to ESG investing) notes some research that appears to show that “ESG’s current popularity owes more to the fact that it offers a simple way to jump on the current hot stocks than to any greater desire to do good.”"

ESG Investing Is Having a Good Crisis. It's Also Killing Jobs - Bloomberg - "It is possible that ESG is undermining itself — or at least that the E and the S are in conflict with each other. Vincent Deluard, of INTL FCStone Inc., suggests that ESG funds are people-unfriendly. Tech and pharma companies tend to look good by ESG criteria, but they tend to be virtual as well as virtuous. These are the kind of companies that need relatively few workers and which churn out hefty profit margins. When Deluard looked at how the big ETFs’ portfolios varied from the Russell 3000, the results were spectacular. They are full of very profitable companies with very few employees. A further look at companies’ market cap per employee showed that investing in the current stock market darlings who are making their shareholders rich is a very inefficient way to invest in boosting employment. They include hot names like Netflix Inc., Nvidia Corp., MasterCard Inc. and Facebook Inc. Meanwhile, the companies with the most employees per unit of market cap are like a rogues’ gallery of those that have suffered from the pandemic, including cruise lines, airlines and department stores — all of which are known for employing lots of people. The problem, Deluard suggests, is that ESG investing, intentionally or otherwise, rewards exactly the corporate behavior that is creating alarm. Companies with few buildings, few formal employees and a light carbon footprint tend to show up well on ESG screens. But allocating capital to them leads to a deepening of inequality, and intensifying the problem of under-unemployment. On the face of it, they aren’t the companies that should be receiving capital if employment is to recover swiftly. If investors want to behave with the interests of “stakeholders” rather than “shareholders” in mind, and that is surely central to the ESG philosophy, then their current approach is directly counter-productive. No good turn goes unpunished. ESG has another problem. How exactly is it to be defined? Any number of different financial data groups offer their own ratings, while a number of investment houses have created their own proprietary versions. That competition has created confusion... There is worryingly little agreement over what constitutes a good company on environmental and social grounds; and almost no agreement at all on what constitutes good governance. A good rating from FTSE tells you nothing about what to expect a company’s rating to be from Sustainalytics or MSCI, and so on"

ESG Didn’t Immunize Stocks Against the COVID-19 Market Crash - "Environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) scores have been widely touted as indicators of share price resilience during the COVID-19 humanitarian crisis. We undertake extensive analyses to investigate this claim and present robust evidence that, once the firm’s industry affiliation and accounting- and market-based measures of risk have been properly controlled for, ESG scores offer no such positive explanatory power for returns during COVID-19. Specifically, ESG is insignificant in fully specified returns regressions for the first quarter of 2020 COVID crisis period, and it is negatively associated with returns during the market’s “recovery” period in the second quarter of 2020. Industry affiliation, market-based measures of risk, and accounting-based variables that capture the firm’s financial flexibility (liquidity and leverage) and their investments in internally-developed intangible assets together dominate the explanatory power of the COVID returns models. Relying on data from the global financial crisis (“GFC”) of 2008-2009, we develop parsimonious logit-based models to explain GFC period “winners” and “losers” (i.e., top and bottom deciles of returns performance), and we use these fitted models to predict winners and losers in the subsequent COVID crisis. Employing receiver operating characteristic (“ROC”) curves, we demonstrate that various accounting- and market-based models perform well both within-sample for the GFC period, as well as out-of-sample for the COVID crisis, but that ESG does not meaningfully add to the combined accounting and market models’ performance. We develop hedge strategies that go long (short) in firms during the COVID crisis that the GFC-based models predict will be winners (losers) and document that these predictions yield highly significant abnormal returns. Once again, ESG offers no enhancement to the out-of-sample returns performance. We conclude that celebrations of ESG as an important resilience factor in times of crisis are, at best, premature."
As with "diversity", firms implementing ESG strategies appear to perform well - but that's despite not because of them

Terence Corcoran: Tear down the ESG statues - "The ouster last month of Emmanuel Faber as top executive at Danone, the French international distributor of brand-name yogurt and evian water, didn’t flap the wings of many news media in North America. One wonders why, given that Faber was the poster-CEO for the global application of woke stakeholder capitalism and environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives as the new foundations for corporate purpose...   At Danone, Faber led a number of initiatives whose overall objective was to shift the corporate focus to such issues as climate, biodiversity, sustainability and other socio-political objectives. In 2019, at the UN climate summit, Faber was up front when 19 corporations — including Canada’s Loblaws and McCain Foods — signed a biodiversity pact to protect the planet. Faber scored his biggest corporatist goal in June 2020, when Danone legally dumped the primacy of shareholders and became the first corporation under new French law to adopt the “entreprise à mission” structure designed to advance stakeholder value creation... Danone also began producing a “carbon-adjusted” earnings-per-share (EPS) statement. After adjusting EPS to account for a hypothetical carbon emission price of about $50 a tonne, Danone estimated its 2019 EPS of about $5.70 would be 38 per cent lower. All of this is very cute (if one ignores the fact that Danone’s profits would be wiped out if it had to pay a $150 a tonne carbon tax). Danone was hailed as a global corporate game changer. They all laughed last June, at the event marking Danone’s transformation into a purpose-based corporation, when Faber raised his verbal fist in the air after having “toppled” the statue of Milton Friedman...   Two weeks ago, however, a real investor revolt struck down Faber and sent little shock waves through Danone and across the whole ESG movement. Under shareholder pressure, Faber was ousted as CEO and a major corporate reorganization postponed...  Bluebell, with only a few shares of Danone, apparently initiated investor protests over Danone’s declining profit levels as it pursued ESG objectives. Under Faber, Danone was putting purpose ahead of profit.  While Bluebell’s holdings were tiny, large Danone shareholders picked up the revolutionary spirit that eventually led to a board decision to remove Faber."

Facebook - "ESG is a scam enabling a cartel, and this implies extortion: "There's fewer places for big companies to hide on a global stage.""

78% of woke ESG funds that Biden wants 401ks to invest in UNDERPERFORMED market average - "A study by Investment Metrics found that a whopping 78 percent of global funds focusing on the principles of environmental, social and corporate governance fell more than 15 percent below their benchmarks in the first six months of 2022.  At the same time, just 3 percent of the 166 US-listed ESG stock funds reported having positive returns as of September, Bloomberg reports, as woke tech firms these funds tend to support have had to lay off employees while oil and gas companies they tend to shun have seen their profits soar as war continues to rage... Bloomberg's Global Bond Index shows that the total returns on ESG bonds dropped 15.2 percent from September 2021 to September 2022.    Returns on funds that do not prioritize ESG principles, however, only plummeted 14.7 percent.   Meanwhile, the Point Bridge GOP Stock Tracker, which invests in companies that support the Republican Party was only down by about 3 percent. Now, investors are starting to shun ESG funds, pouring only $4.5billion into them during the first eight months of the 2022 — after injecting the funds with more than $32billion over the past two years.  At least seven funds have now been forced to shutter... Still, the Biden administration seems to be supporting these failing funds by allowing retirement plan investors to focus on ESG investing - even if they provide a lower return for Americans.  The move, which was announced on Tuesday, reverses a rule imposed by Trump in 2020 that forced employers to prioritize profit when making 401(k) investments... critics say the change allows asset managers to use retirees' funds to advance the Democrats' political and social agenda without their approval...
'The Trump-era rule permitted consideration of ESG factors as long as doing so was consistent with ERISA's requirement that such investing be 'solely' and for the 'exclusive purpose' of generating financial benefits for retirees... that clearly was not good enough for a Biden administration desperate to use massive pools of private investor money to fund the businesses they like and punish the ones they don't like.'"

If the ‘godfather of ESG’ is confused, then you know there’s a problem - "Much of the past outperformance of ESG funds now appears to be a product of the investment style skewing towards big technology companies which, until recently, were booming but have sharply fallen in value as interest rates picked up.   And the ability of investors to push for change has also taken a hit.   Wael Sawan, Shell’s newish chief executive recently said his company “will invest in the models that work - those with the highest returns that play to our strengths”.   This has been widely interpreted as meaning Shell will be focusing more on oil and gas and less on wind and solar. Forget green; black is the new black. Sawan’s predecessor Ben van Beurden often complained that however much money he invested in green technologies half of his shareholders would complain it was too much and half would complain it was too little. Sawan appears to have abandoned the near-impossible attempt to thread the needle.   He has been given cover by the fact that the first war in Europe for 80 years has messed up established thinking by creating an energy crunch and rampant inflation, thereby introducing some shades of grey to the sustainable investment debate. Climate change and clean tech may very well create risks and present opportunities but there is now a broad acknowledgement that European hydrocarbons are less problematic than Gulf hydrocarbons and much less problematic than Russian hydrocarbons.   In a perfect world you’d rather there was no need for arms manufacturers; in an imperfect world supplying weapons to a country defending itself against an illegal invasion has become a moral imperative.   It doesn’t help that there’s plenty of ESG snake oil around.   Last year, the chief executive of a Deutsche Bank subsidiary had to resign after the authorities raided the company’s offices in connection with “greenwashing” allegations. However, it was the attempt to impose moral certainty where none existed that left the investment community most exposed to a backlash.   Last year, as Russian troops were massing on the Ukrainian border, the Latvian deputy prime minister publicly vented spleen at a Swedish bank that had refused to lend money to one of his country’s defence companies because of “ethical standards”.   “I got so angry,” said Artis Pabriks in an interview with the Financial Times. “Is national defence not ethical? How is the Swedish defence industry financed - by Martians?” But it is, of course, in the US where the investment culture wars are fiercest... One of the best and most nuanced critiques of ESG has come from Stuart Kirk, who lost his job as head of responsible investment at HSBC Asset Management after raising doubts about the efficacy of the approach.  He argues that it makes sense, of course, to consider how environmental, social and governance issues may affect the risk-adjusted returns of an asset but this is different from not investing in certain companies because they want to do “the right thing” with their money.  Either approach is valid but they are different – one focuses on inputs (what goes into the portfolio) and the other focuses on outputs (how ESG considerations influence returns).   The issue comes when managers conflated the two. Where Kirk is perhaps overly generous to his former colleagues is in suggesting the confusion is accidental. I recently spoke to the former chief executive of a UK fund manager who said he had serious misgivings about ESG.  He was mainly concerned that excluding too many companies from portfolios could hamper performance. He was also unconvinced it would accelerate environmental or societal changes.   However, he privately admitted it had been more than his job was worth to raise such concerns while he was in his post, as the ESG label was such an effective marketing tactic, helping his firm and the wider industry to hoover up billions in fresh assets to manage."

States move to protect retirees from risky woke capital - "Texas made the first move to remove politics from state workers' retirement money. It introduced a law to prohibit state pensions from investing in or contracting with financial firms that boycott investment in oil and gas companies. Pursuant to the requirements of the law, the Texas Comptroller must keep track of financial firms that "boycott energy companies." Over a specified period of time, state government agencies must "sell, redeem, divest, or withdraw all publicly traded securities" from the boycotting financial firm. The law provides exceptions for state governmental agencies to continue investing if they determine they will suffer losses from the divestment.  West Virginia and Arkansas have also removed assets from BlackRock’s management, while Utah’s state treasurer has taken a stance against S&P Global’s arbitrary environmental, social, and governance ratings. The American Legislative Exchange Council has also designed a framework for states to adopt laws to ensure that investment advisers are maximizing pension fund returns.  In Kentucky, Attorney General Daniel Cameron wrote an opinion arguing that ESG investing is not in line with state law. He said a fiduciary "must have a single-minded purpose in the returns on their beneficiaries’ investments." Like the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, Kentucky state law requires investment firms to manage funds "solely in the interest of the members and beneficiaries [and for the] exclusive purpose of providing benefits to members and beneficiaries and paying reasonable expenses of administering the system."  Investment managers are paying unreasonable expenses for ESG funds. An article from the Financial Times pointed out that "investors in sustainable funds pay a premium" compared to conventional peers.  States around the country are fighting back because ESG investments fail to put retirees first.  However, at the federal level, the Securities and Exchange Commission is embracing climate disclosures and ESG investing"

Berkshire shareholders reject climate, diversity proposals - "Berkshire Hathaway Inc shareholders on Saturday overwhelmingly rejected six proposals for environmental, social and governance changes at Warren Buffett's conglomerate, all of which the billionaire investor and his board opposed.  By margins of at least 3-to-1, shareholders voted against three proposals that Berkshire disclose more about its climate-related risks or greenhouse gas emissions and efforts to address them, and its efforts to promote diversity.  They also voted down by a nearly 10-to-1 margin a renewed call for an independent director to replace Buffett as chairman."

Matthew Lau: ESG is unnecessary and harmful - "One thing the ESG movement looks to destroy is business diversity, which it does by seeking to impose uniform views on a wide range of social issues onto all businesses. Under the ESG movement’s vision of stakeholder capitalism, corporations are all supposed to affirm that anthropogenic global warming is catastrophic and that various kinds of unfair discrimination are pervasive and systemic. Corporations are then supposed to reorganize their operations to deal with global warming and discrimination, while promoting equity, inclusion, and workers’ rights — not as these things really are, but as they are misunderstood by university administrators and Liberal and NDP activists... Apart from being duplicative, the ESG model introduces conflicts of interest to, and reduces accountability in, corporate decision-making: anybody who squanders company resources has the excuse that they achieved some sort of social improvement or fulfilled obligations to some group of stakeholders. Even worse, imposing ESG principles abrogates shareholders’ rights by redistributing their assets to whoever claims to be a business stakeholder. This effective change in ownership results in capital allocations based increasingly on political interests instead of financial considerations — a recipe for economic harm. The ESG movement also runs contrary to one of the greatest aspects of commercial life: its voluntary nature. Having adopted all sorts of mistaken ideas about economics and dubious stances on social questions, the ESG movement often calls on government to enforce and promote its values"

BlackRock’s (BLK) ESG Troubles Mount as Missouri Pulls $500 Million - Bloomberg - "Missouri withdrew $500 million of pension assets from BlackRock Inc., criticizing the firm for prioritizing ESG concerns over shareholder returns...   Earlier this month, Louisiana’s treasurer said his state would pull $794 million from BlackRock funds, part of a growing backlash over the firm’s stance on sustainable investing"

‘We Are Capitalists’: BlackRock CEO Pushes Back Against ‘Woke’ Influences - "BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink said that being “woke” has no place in his business.  In his 2022 Letter to CEOs, Fink instead lauded “capitalism” as the driver of relationships between stakeholders... Fortune 100 companies allocated more than $37 billion for “racial equity” initiatives following the death of George Floyd. For example, Alphabet — Google’s parent company — added to subsidiary YouTube’s $100 million equity fund with $175 million in new grants. The company is working to improve “Black+” representation at senior levels by 30% over the next few years.  However, one survey from The Brunswick Group found that business leaders are “out of step” with the public on speaking about social issues. While only 36% of voters “agree unequivocally that companies should speak out on social issues,” 63% of executives believe the same... “even Biden voters think corporate executives need to weigh in less.”"

The ‘Stakeholder Capitalism’ War on the Enlightenment - WSJ - "No one appreciated the power of capitalism more than its greatest antagonist, Karl Marx. Born of the Enlightenment, embodied in the Industrial Revolution, capitalism, according to Marx, “accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals . . . achieving more massive and colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together” in “scarce one hundred years.”... In the communal world of the Dark Ages, the worker owed fealty to crown, church, guild and village. Those “stakeholders” extracted a share of the product of the sweat of the worker’s brow and the fruits of his thrift. Growth stagnated as the rewards for effort and thrift were leached away. The 18th-century Enlightenment liberated mind, soul and property, empowering people to think their own thoughts and ultimately have a voice in their government, worship as they chose, and own the fruits of their own labor and thrift. As Enlightenment economist Adam Smith put it, “the property which every man has in his own labor, as it is the original foundation of all property, so it is the most sacred and inviolable.”... These Enlightenment ideas spawned the Industrial Revolution and gave birth to the modern world... the idea that rich capitalists own corporate America is largely a progressive myth. Some 72% of the value of publicly traded companies in America is owned by pensions, 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts, charitable organizations, and insurance companies funding life insurance policies and annuities. The overwhelming majority of involuntary sharers in stakeholder capitalism will be workers and retirees. The mantra that private wealth must serve the public interest has been boosted by one of capitalism’s great innovations, the index fund. What investors gained in the efficiency of the index fund’s low fees, they are now losing as index funds use the extraordinary voting power they possess in voting other people’s shares... Stakeholder capitalism imperils more than prosperity, it imperils democracy itself. Self-proclaimed stakeholders demand that workers and investors serve their interests even though no law has been enacted imposing the ESG agenda."

Aaron Sibarium on Twitter - "NEW: From S&P Global to the London Stock Exchange, tobacco companies are crushing Tesla in the ESG ratings. How could cigarettes, which kill over 8 million a year, be deemed a more ethical investment than electric cars? One answer: Tobacco’s gone woke.🧵... The contrast highlights the hazards of a movement that lumps pressing health and environmental issues in with ideological fads. Early ESG efforts were laser-focused on "sin stocks"—companies whose core business was deemed immoral—including tobacco. But as ESG investing has ballooned, so has the number of variables used in ESG ratings, which now encompass everything from labor practices and carbon pledges to diversity trainings and human rights. That has created countless opportunities to game the system, experts say, and lets even the most sordid companies score points—and investors—by toeing the progressive line. "ESG company ratings often measure abstract woke goals that have no rational connection to companies' actual businesses," said Boyden Gray & Associates managing partner Jonathan Berry, who sued NASDAQ last year over its diversity requirements for corporate boards. "Companies score 'points' mainly by demonstrating their compliance with the latest dogmas issued by the DEI complex."  Cigarettes are the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more people than alcohol, illegal drugs, and car accidents combined. And their supply chain involves a litany of environmental sins... The report did not mention that smoking, like COVID-19, disproportionately kills black Americans.  The paeans to DEI underscore how tobacco could exploit ESG to become a more palatable asset, profiting off the progressivism that has swept through C-suites and corporate boards... Some rating systems even encourage cigarette makers to market their products to marginalized groups. Altria has a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which lets companies earn points by "advertising to LGBTQ consumers." In California, tobacco kills almost as many gay and bisexual men as AIDS. LGBT youth nationwide are over twice as likely to smoke as their straight counterparts, and transgender adults smoke at three times the rate of the general public... While the ESG juggernaut is relatively new, tobacco's corporate progressivism is not. When Philip Morris began advertising in gay periodicals in the 1990s, it dismissed critics of the move as bigots opposed to "inclusion." (I’m not kidding.)"

Jamil Jivani: The Conservative MP who's fed up with the menace of woke corporations - "Corporations are generally considered woke when they engage in social activism that is beyond the scope of their business purpose. It is controversial because it is inherently undemocratic when wealthy officers and directors exploit the unique legal status of a corporation in order to marshal significant resources toward their preferred political agendas.   Canadians have had reasons to worry about woke capital for years: ESG (environmental, social and governance) investment policies have undercut our oil and gas industry; businesses have embraced Black Lives Matter, despite serious concerns about the group’s ethics; and multinational corporations have imported American culture wars into our country...   Kmiec is currently drafting a private member’s bill to amend Section 122 of the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA), which is focused on the duty of care that officers and directors owe to their shareholders. If passed, it would ensure that officers and directors prioritize the interests of shareholders above political agendas that are unrelated to the company’s business purpose...  Wisely, the bill would not prevent companies from making statements on political or social issues, but would require a firm’s board of directors to seek approval from shareholders first. Kmiec’s office hopes that such a mechanism will “make corporations think twice before opining on something beyond their stated corporate purpose.”  Legislation that promises to protect democracy from corporate power is bound to make some people uncomfortable. The proposed changes to the CBCA promise to loosen the grip that woke liberals have over corporate Canada, which will receive push-back from some quarters. Some critics will also argue that businesses should be free to be activists and governments shouldn’t have a say in the matter.  For its part, Kmiec’s office argues that the bill is in fact pro-business by being pro-shareholder, since, at the moment, “Shareholders have no say over these statements and, if backlash occurs, are left on the hook suffering with pecuniary losses through no fault of their own.”"
To liberals, corporate involvement in politics is only an issue when they're not pushing a liberal agenda

Friday, July 21, 2023

Links - 21st July 2023 (2 - The Great Reset/The World Economic Forum)

Rupa Subramanya: Chrystia Freeland's side gig with the WEF is endangering Canadian democracy - "the one-time critic has enjoyed an apotheosis of sorts and since 2019 has sat on the board of trustees of the WEF itself. Other members include Canada’s own Mark Carney, former governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England; Al Gore, former U.S. vice-president; Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest individual; Larry Fink, head of BlackRock, the world’s largest investment fund; and a slew of other bankers, CEOs, tycoons and celebrities. Notably, Freeland is the only government minister presently on the board. While there does not appear to be anything explicitly proscribed about Freeland’s serving on the board of a private foundation, the optics are extremely problematic, as Schwab and the WEF take strong positions on matters of global public policy which, if implemented, will affect all Canadians. Even more strangely, Freeland also sits on the supervisory board of the Aspen Institute Kyiv, a chapter of another Davos-type exclusive club that holds forth on global issues. That’s quite a journey from her beginnings as a freelance journalist working out of Ukraine.  These board memberships are far from symbolic. According to the WEF, the board of trustees “act as guardians of its mission and values” and are its “highest-level governance body.” Similarly, board members of the Aspen Institute Kyiv are responsible for providing “counsel to the president, as well as governance over the business, affairs, and property” of the institute. What would happen if acting as a “guardian” for the WEF came into conflict with acting as a guardian for Canada’s public finances, which is Freeland’s day job? What would happen if providing “counsel” to the Aspen Institute president came into conflict with providing counsel to Canada’s governor general, which is part of Freeland’s day job as a member of the Privy Council? Writing in the New York Times in 2011, Freeland described Schwab as a “rather traditional European social democrat who aims to encourage among … participants a kind of noblesse oblige, or its modern equivalent, stakeholder capitalism.” The political tradition that Freeland is describing originated with the reaction of privileged liberal elites rebelling against Europe’s feudal past, a world away from contemporary Canada. Search the 2019 Liberal party’s campaign platform, and you won’t find a single reference to “stakeholder capitalism.” Yet, as a member of the board of trustees of Schwab’s outfit, Freeland is implicitly or explicitly committed to importing this brand of European social democracy into a Canadian ethos originally founded on individual rights and free market capitalism, which in turn is premised on maximizing shareholder value. While Canada has drifted considerably leftward since its founding, a wholesale adoption of a corporatist philosophy and governance ethos imported from an exclusive gathering of the self-loathing rich who espouse these ideas over cocktails in the Swiss Alps would be nothing less than a subversion of Canadian democracy. Like its first cousin, “The Great Reset,” which bizarrely aims to bring in environmental considerations under the purview of central banks, the innocuous sounding stakeholder capitalism is committed to destroying the foundations of Anglo-American free market capitalism and replacing it with a system where governments and their cronies in Davos tell private businesses what they need to care about. The irony here is that all of those at Davos, including Freeland, got there because of the free market system and shareholder-driven capitalism, which they’re now bent on overthrowing in an unholy alliance of true believers and opportunists.  There’s no need to invent conspiracy theories. The attempt by global elites to subvert local democracy is fully on and in plain view."

World Economic Forum on Twitter - "The Great Reset - a blueprint for a better world after #COVID"
Rule Britannia 3: Oppressive Laughter - Posts | Facebook - "The conspiracy theorists were right."

BREAKING: Trudeau calls 'Great Reset' a conspiracy theory despite advocating for it - "Trudeau was asked this morning about growing criticism both online and from some Conservative MPs, including Pierre Poilievre, of Trudeau's use of the term 'reset' when talking to the United Nations. The term coincides with the 'Great Reset' plan pushed by the World Economic Forum."

BREAKING: Freeland reveals Trudeau Liberals' plan to 'build back better,' adding $400 BILLION to national debt - "Shadow Finance Minister Pierre Poilievre criticized the high spending from the Trudeau Liberals, saying that the Trudeau government had "spent the most to achieve the least" in the G7, as Canada has the highest unemployment in the group, outside of Italy, as well as the highest deficit in the G20."

GOLDSTEIN: UN climate report reveals goals of Trudeau's 'Great Reset' - "It means what Poilievre said it means — global elites using the COVID-19 pandemic and recession to fundamentally reshape society, reduce economic freedom and transfer wealth from the developed to the developing world.It’s not a conspiracy. It’s out in the open.It’s not a plot for global dictatorship. It’s a globalist plan to convince people living in democracies in the developed world to accept a lower standard of living (what reducing industrial greenhouse gas emissions actually means) to, we’re told, save the planet from catastrophic global warming... in its annual emissions report released two days before Trudeau’s announcement, the UN said even if every country meets its Paris targets, global temperatures will increase by a catastrophic three degrees Celcius this century... Governments can achieve these goals, the UN says, through taxation and other policies affecting fundamental decisions we make about our lives, from what we eat (preferably meatless, low-carbon diets), to how we travel (less by air, more by subsidized electric cars), to how we power our homes (with wind and solar energy, at least for “higher income” earners, given the costs) and much, much more.That’s what Trudeau means by “The Great Reset.”Canadians deserve the truth before deciding if they support it."

LESLYN LEWIS: 'The Great Reset' is not a conspiracy theory, it's Trudeau's ideology - "Dismissing an argument or concern as a "conspiracy theory" is often a tactic used to silence the inquirer. We’re seeing that play out right now with disagreements over "The Great Reset," and what it means. What we know is that governments around the world have adopted the concept into policies which tout the "Reset" or "Build Back Better" slogans... "This pandemic has provided an opportunity for a reset. This is our chance to accelerate our pre-pandemic efforts to reimagine economic systems," the prime minister explained. Fast forward to November, and the prime minister deflected questions about his language choice, choosing to make the case that if people raised concerns about his wording, they were embracing conspiracy theories. This seems like an odd approach to take, since in the lead-up to the prime minister’s speech to the UN, in August 2020, the Bank of Canada also put out an economic document titled "The Great Reset: Supporting the transition to a greener, smarter economy."... The devastation brought on by COVID requires our united efforts in protecting Canadians. It is not a time to capitalize on our vulnerabilities by utilizing our tax dollars to usher in one man’s vision of a "greener," more "sustainable" and "inclusive" economy. All of these words sound benevolent on their own, but what are the actual policy changes that this Liberal government believes are necessary and plan to implement? Without presenting budgets or plans to the House of Commons, this remains a mystery, to put it kindly. We need all hands on deck to survive this pandemic, and there should be no hidden agenda. The Great Reset is using the pandemic to create a post-COVID era that redefine industries, work, and even how we are taxed (creating new streams for future taxation (for example: working from home tax, home equity tax, carbon footprint tax.) Key priorities include redefining our social contract to become more "inclusive" and demonstrating a greater responsibility towards the future generations for the debt and environment. It is predicated on a moral obligation to reduce the financial gap between industrialized countries and lesser developed nations—which obviously means Canadian tax dollars will be sent abroad to fund projects that governments can claim link even tangentially to the fight against climate change and inequality... One should not succumb to being bullied or shamed into not asking questions about why our government has touted several post-COVID policies on the environment, economy and social inequality within the book. Similarly, we should not accept our prime minister feigning ignorance over the Reset after he has adopted reset policies and bragged about this approach at the United Nations. As citizens, we must decide on the kind of post-COVID country that we envision, and not allow the pandemic to be used as an opportunity for any leaders to remake Canada in his own image. In the end, we must remember that governments can only implement this kind of economic, societal, and 4th green industrial revolution with the consent and the mandate of the electorate."

EDITORIAL: 'Great Reset' not so great with Canadians, polling shows | Toronto Sun - "Option 1: “Now is the time to restructure the economy through carbon taxes, rebates, regulations and subsidies for alternative energy.”
Option 2: “No, we should focus on fighting COVID-19 and getting things back to normal.”
While a third of Canadians backed the first option, more than a majority of respondents – 57% – took option 2. (The rest were undecided.)... The idea of government using a national crisis to push a particular agenda on Canadians when they’re vulnerable doesn’t strike us as all that great though. It’s good to see that most Canadians agree.  This opinion survey also asked questions about the carbon tax and their findings confirm what we’ve long known:  Canadians like the carbon tax in the abstract. But they don’t like it once they learn the details of it and they sure don’t like it if they’re the ones most affected by it... the majority of Canadians oppose the feds’ plans to slowly increase the carbon tax from $30 per ton to $170 per ton by 2030.  A majority of respondents — 52% — said they were against this, with only 32% in support."

Rex Murphy: The 'great reset' no one asked for - "how could COVID-19, a medical calamity, provide a rationale for a total economic makeover? When someone breaks an arm, who responds by saying, “It’s time to repair the roof”? Does someone with a headache see it as an opportunity to mow the lawn? I think not. Nevertheless, the raging pandemic, having wrecked the world’s economies, is being taken as a cue by various eminent globalists to pursue a totally unrelated agenda. Rather than being described as an opportunity, this should be seen as opportunism, pure and simple.A combination of United Nations satraps, tech billionaires and, naturally, the apocalyptic environmental contingent have decided that this time of anxiety and disruption is the perfect moment to push their agenda. To be sure, the push is not coming from the people bearing most of the costs of the COVID shutdowns. Tellingly, it is coming from a group of people whose wealth and power have exempted them from its stresses — people who are far removed from the day-to-day experience of the masses... When Trudeau says “this is our chance,” he’s really saying: “Let’s take advantage of everyone’s preoccupation with COVID and their health to introduce some mad agenda to create a green economy. We could never do this in normal times, but now, I can do it from the steps of my cottage. Green it is.”... before COVID, no one wanted the Liberals’ green schemes. Because in normal times, absent some vast crisis seizing everyone’s attention, any announcement of a so-called great reset would be laughed at by every adult in the nation, and all clear-headed children.Trudeau has no grounds, and certainly no mandate, to “re-imagine” the Canadian economy. And he should be the last person to assume he can reinvent it at will, having plunged the country into a bottomless cavern of debt and deficits. Whatever else COVID may be, it is not a passport to a minority government, of seriously deficient economic competence, to reset, restate or rearrange Canada’s industrial foundation... The government should do its best to work within the economy that actually exists. Because when this wretched pandemic finally dissipates, it will be the ones who have been sweating and labouring this entire time who will build it back again."

What is the Great Reset? - The Spectator - "Schwab is peddling his idea of ‘stakeholder capitalism’, which essentially maintains that corporations have more expansive duties than maximizing profits for shareholders. This is a concept so vague that Facebook, IBM, Lockheed Martin et cetera are free to interpret it quite as they wish.‘Firms can go on privately shoveling money to their shareholders and executives,’ as Steve Dunning writes for Forbes, ‘while maintaining a public front of exquisite social sensitivity and exemplary altruism.’ Amazon can proclaim that ‘Black Lives Matter’, for example, while its employees piss in bottles for fear of being fired for taking toilet breaks. An air of otherworldliness pervades this book. One of its symptoms is its constant references to ‘we’: ‘we will’, ‘we should’, ‘we must’. Who are we? I think Schwab and Malleret mean ‘mankind’ but in practice it means ‘Davos Man’, a species of high-status politician, businessman or academic about whom Samuel Huntington wrote:‘These transnationalists have little need for national loyalty, view national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing, and see national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite’s global operations.’ Davos cosmopolitanism manifests itself in an apparent blindness to cultural and historical peculiarities. It also leads to naïve multilateralism. ‘The absolute prerequisite for a proper reset,’ Schwab and Malleret conclude, ‘is greater collaboration and cooperation within and between countries.’ Of course, global threats require global cooperation. But the book evinces little comprehension of the downsides of the globalization. The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, was exacerbated by faith in the hapless WHO and a chronic inability to close borders. After Wuhan was shut down, it should have been as difficult for a Chinese person to enter the EU as it would be for Alex Jones to enter Area-51, but Davos Man is stubbornly committed to the idea that integration solves all ailments, including its own. This otherworldliness is also evident when Schwab and Malleret write about culture. They tell us three times that man is a ‘social animal’, yet a desiccated understanding of that social life emerges as they reflect on how social media platforms can transform communal life. Schwab and Malleret do admit that online communication cannot entirely replace human contact – they write about ‘Zoom fatigue’. But my eyes rolled from head, into the kitchen and under the fridge when they wrote that ‘driving to a distant family gathering for the weekend’ might become less attractive when ‘the WhatsApp family group is not as fun but…safer, cheaper and greener’. Buying a sex doll would be safer, cheaper and greener than getting married. That doesn’t mean it is a good idea... the elite consensus on ‘the way ahead’ is disturbing. One critic has called Davos an ‘ideological synchronization environment for individuals, corporations, and governments to keep on the same page.’ That is different from conspiracy — but not that different. When bad ideas are adopted internationally by some of the richest and most powerful people in the world, the effect can be the same. The Great Reset might be all the more terrifying for not being a sinister plot."

Davos Great Reset: The Culmination of Corporatism - "Stakeholder capitalism rests on the notion that a company’s management owes a duty to more than its shareholders. It’s something that Klaus Schwab, the WEF’s founder and executive chairman, has been advocating for a long time. A key feature of the Great Reset is the idea that stakeholder capitalism should, one way or another, be adopted.That would reduce a company’s shareholders to just another category of “stakeholder,” effectively transferring the power that capital should confer away from its owners and into the hands of those who administer it. They are then accountable to, well, it’s not quite clear whom. It’s not difficult to grasp why so many corporate bosses are enthused by stakeholder capitalism. But stakeholder capitalism is a betrayal of democracy as well as of shareholders. The power it gives to managers is increasingly being used to support an agenda influenced by a cabal of activists, NGOs, representatives of the “international community,” and politicians too arrogant to go through the usual legislative process... while removing one possible obstacle to shoveling money to executives (shareholders are a different matter) is a part of stakeholder capitalism’s appeal to managements (bonuses are easier to justify when targets are to grow, say, diversity rather than the share price), it is only one part of its attraction. Much of stakeholder capitalism’s appeal lies elsewhere, whether it is from the social approval that it can generate for a manager who uses his or her role in such a positive way, or in its ability to hand executives power, which they can wield, as noted above, with relatively little accountability now that their responsibility to shareholders has been so diluted... corporatism, which is often framed to look like cooperation, but is all too frequently underpinned by coercion, is like that: “To varying degrees, business executives in all industries and all countries and all countries will have to adapt to greater government intervention.” And dissenters simply do not exist: "[N]obody would now deny that companies’ fundamental purpose can no longer simply be the unbridle[d] pursuit of financial profit; it is now simply incumbent upon them to serve all their stakeholders, not only those who hold shares.""
Also headlined: "The Great Reset: If Only It Were Just a Conspiracy"

Why investors should be wary of the Great Build Back Better Bubble of 2021 - "so much capital has herded into this trade that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find opportunities that haven’t been picked over. For example, we recently spoke with one large institutional investor who said a number of the wind projects they were examining had an internal rate of return (IRR) of less than five per cent, leaving little room for things such as cost overruns. All of this reminds me of the rush into oilsands projects spurred by the peak oil thesis a decade ago — and we all know how that turned out... even U.S. climate envoy John Kerry expressed some doubts saying that half of the reductions in carbon required to reach “net zero” will come from technologies that have yet to be invented. This idealistic narrative is so pervasive that it has sent solar, electric vehicles and other clean-tech stocks soaring to insane levels, so much so that I am willing to call it the Build Back Better Bubble of 2021."

Meme - World Economic Forum: "Thinking big by thinking small: How significantly downsizing our homes into 'tiny homes' with all but the bare essentials is the key to building a better, more diverse and less racist society"
Sargon of Akkad - Posts | Facebook - "For some reason, a less racist society requires you to live in a matchbox."

Rex Murphy: Chrystia Freeland's 'epiphany' that COVID-19 is an 'opportunity' — that’s pretty dark - "Outside of Freeland’s perhaps careless phrasing there is the more deliberate declaration made by the PM himself, half a year ago in the UN.  His statement was as follows: “This pandemic has provided an opportunity for a reset. … This is our chance to accelerate our pre-pandemic efforts to reimagine economic systems.” That is far more declarative and direct than Freeland’s musing. He was saying for his government, and pointing out to other governments that the pandemic gave them the “chance” as he put it “to accelerate” — and this is the key part — “our pre-pandemic efforts to reimagine economic systems.”"

Terence Corcoran: From vaccine passports to personal carbon passports: Get ready for CLIMATE-21 fossil fuel virus lockdowns - "The link between the virus pandemic and the climate policy pandemic was aggressively planted almost two years by the World Economic Forum’s Klaus Schwab. COVID-19, he said, opens the door to The Great Reset, a major remake of global power and politics. “The possibilities for change and the resulting new order,” Schwab said, “are now unlimited and only bound by our imagination.” Schwab’s imaginings are now entrenched. From CEOs to medical writers to economists and scientists playing for power and attention, the policy transition from a war on the COVID-19 virus to the war on the CLIMATE-21 fossil fuels virus has been firmly established. That message came clearly this week when 220 medical journals around the world — including the Canadian Medical Association Journal — published the same “editorial” under the headline: “Call for emergency action to limit global temperature increases, restore biodiversity, and protect health.”... how did the editors of 220 medical journals from India to Canada and East Africa become experts in climate science, economics and the environment?... Given the current state of the global pandemic, the assumption that the COVID control experience shows the way forward may strike many as a little premature. It is not obvious that we need to fight the climate with big government interventions, backed by corporations, to totally reshape the global economic and power system... The policy creep from COVID to climate hit the pages of Nature Sustainability journal last month in an article promoting Personal Carbon Allowances. It says, “the policy window of opportunity provided by the COVID-19 crisis, in combination with the need to address worsening climate and biodiversity crises,” make it possible for individuals to be allocated personal carbon allowances. In short, the COVID vaccine passports could be succeeded by Personal Carbon Passports... Jaccard says he has always been “nervous” talking about his “modelling” efforts on climate and carbon policy, since many non-experts are sceptical. But not any more, said Jaccard, thanks to “the work of the COVID modellers” who forecast the effect of lockdown policies... COVID models were the basis for the lockdowns that were supposed to “flatten the curve” of the virus, a modelling exercise now viewed as totally flawed. Instead of flattening, as per the models, the curve of cases has been anything but flat and now appears to be rising again toward a fourth wave."
Why does he want to sound like a supervillain? Is it so elites can label everyone who notices a conspiracy theorist?
Given all the inflation due to covid hysteria, good luck with all the further social engineering
Covid modelling was bad enough. But when people notice their lives going to shit due to climate change hysteria, maybe they will rebel

Meme - "The year is 2042. My electric car won't start because I used the wrong pronoun yesterday. No air conditioner in my 50 sq ft apartment because I reached my monthly allotment of farts, but I think they are adding grub worms to my cricket paste."

Meme - "I'll shut down your social media" - Mark Zuckerberg
"I'll shut down your farm lands" - Bill Gates
"I'll shut down your bank account" - Justin Trudeau
"I'll shut down your electric car." - Joe Biden
"I'll shut down your social life" - Anthony Fauci
*Klaus Schwab*

Why the WEF doesn’t control the world (despite claiming to) - "This is Klaus Schwab, founder of the WEF. He’s got ramrod-straight posture, a German accent, and he has a notable penchant to speak like a Bond villain. Here he is in 2017 claiming his organization has been able to “penetrate” the cabinets of world governments, including “half” the cabinet of Prime Minister Trudeau.  And it’s not just Klaus. Here’s a 2016 video in which the group claims that the future will be one in which “you’ll own nothing and you’ll be happy.”  They’re also the ones who invented the term “The Great Reset” to refer to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s right: You were laid off from your service job and your marriage fell apart while you were trapped in your two-bedroom apartment for six months, but these guys think the whole thing is awesome because it will promote green infrastructure or something.  So, yeah, they’re a little out of touch.  The WEF’s main gig is organizing the annual Davos summit. It’s a super-elite conference where the world’s most powerful government and corporate leaders gather to network while eating $50 burritos. It’s like any number of similar international gatherings like the G20, the Summit of the Americas or the Commonwealth Heads of Government. But this one gets all the attention because its organizers obnoxiously claim that its super-rich attendees are selflessly making society better. As Vanity Fair put it, Davos is where the überrich “schmooze and strike deals under the guise of saving the world.”  But just because you have a bunch of powerful people coming to your conference every year doesn’t mean you control them.  Donald Trump’s been to Davos a couple times, and let’s just say he’s not really down with their globalist vision of unrestricted free trade.  Former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer was selected for the WEF’s Young Global Leaders program back in the day, and his main job these days is the very un-WEF pursuit of putting out viral videos about how central bankers suck at their jobs. Another Young Global Leader? Vladimir Putin. If Klaus Schwab could really tell WEF alumni what to do, here’s a guess that he would tell them not to unilaterally launch a devastating territorial war with profound consequences for global supply chains...   Canadian Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner was a Davos attendee once upon a time, and in a lengthy essay for The Line, she said it was basically like a really, really expensive academic conference where you might bump into Angela Merkel in the bathroom...   Does a milquetoast Swiss club secretly control the Canadian government? Or is the prime minister of Canada a suggestible dope?"

Rupa Subramanya: The best critique of the World Economic Forum came from Chrystia Freeland herself - "before she became a politician, she was a journalist, and her magnum opus was a book called, “Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else,” which was published in 2012.  I’ve been re-reading the book and was struck by just how on the mark she was. The book’s central focus is, ironically, how plutocrats — the super-elites who sit at the top of the economic, political and social pyramid — attempt, and often succeed, in turning the rules of the game in their favour, by shaping government policy and public opinion. As becomes vividly apparent in Freeland’s engaging read, Davos is the playground where the plutocrats hash out ideas with other members of the powerful elite, from prime ministers and presidents, to celebrities, bankers, academics and others who help shape public opinion and guide public policy in a direction that’s congenial to the plutocrats’ interests.  Responding to such critiques, Monck told the CBC that Davos is about exchanging ideas, not setting policy. This is about as disingenuous as it gets. No serious critique of the WEF has ever alleged that somehow it uses mind-altering hypnosis to get world leaders to do what it wants. Rather, a forum for exchanging ideas in a congenial environment serves as a laboratory for policy ideas that can be tested when the assorted worthies return to their home countries.  Fittingly enough, the best response to Monck’s dismissal is from Freeland — not the Freeland of today, an entrenched insider, but the Freeland of yesteryear, the journalist who called it as she saw it. In an especially telling passage in “Plutocrats,” she writes:  “The vampire squid theory of the super elite is entertaining and emotionally satisfying. It can be fun to imagine the super-elites who went to Wall Street and their Harvard classmates who became economics professors and those who became U.S . senators participating in a grand conspiracy (hatched ideally, at the Porcellian Club) to rip off the middle class. But the impact of these networks is much less cynical, and much more subtle, though not necessarily of less consequence.”  When people spend a lot of time together in an environment where work and socializing intermingle, whether in a university fraternity, at Davos or at other venues where powerful people routinely come together, a shared mindset develops of what needs to be done, whether to combat equality, ameliorate climate change or handle the COVID-19 pandemic.  That shared mindset is often pushed on and society in order to influence public opinion and, ultimately, government policy. As Freeland wrote, “Some farsighted plutocrats try to use their money not merely to buy public office for themselves but to redirect the reigning ideology of a nation, a region or even the world.”  There has long been a revolving door between the top echelons of government, the private sector and academia, especially in the United States, and to a lesser extent in places like Canada. This is not a conspiracy theory, it’s merely a fact. The WEF facilitates this by creating a forum for the world’s political and business elite to mix and mingle.  Critics of the theory that wealthy individuals would want to implant the WEF’s left-wing ideology in their home countries might assume that the wealthy, by definition, would be pushing for free markets and minimal government intervention. This is a rookie error, as Freeland aptly notes:  “The bigger issue of the relationship between plutocrats and the state can’t be reduced to business batting for smaller government. Often, a big, intrusive state is the plutocrat’s best friend — true of state capitalist regimes like China and Russia and of industries, like the defence business, that live on state largesse, or of companies, like the U.S. steel industry under George W. Bush, that have lobbied for and won protectionist legislation.” None of this should be controversial. It certainly wasn’t when then-journalist Freeland published her book: the only negative consequence she received after it came out, as she herself joked, was that she got uninvited from a bunch of private parties at Davos. Her basic message was widely accepted.  Fast forward to today, when basically the same message coming from voices on the right is derided as a conspiracy theory intended as disinformation and misinformation"

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