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When we first moved to Florida 15 years ago, we established bank accounts with Chase Bank. We had no mortgage or need for loans, so convenience and no-fee checking made it an easy decision. But over time, we found that the customer service wasn’t stellar. We did most of our banking through the mail, online banking, and direct debits and credits, and frankly, we were lazy. So we didn’t seriously consider changing banks.
Until I learned a couple of years ago that Jamie Dimon, CEO, was boasting of his significant donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is well-known for its targeting of conservative groups, often labeled as white supremacists. I ranted about Chase’s donation on Ricochet and called Dimon’s office, where a polite young man told me he’d pass on my criticism to Mr. Dimon.
Meanwhile, we’re still at Chase, except that we found it was impossible recently to talk to a real person by telephone in our local office. We even had our complaint “bumped up” to someone in Detroit, who was also polite. Even she couldn’t reach anyone in our local office by phone (with her special, magical telephone numbers). And we can’t just walk in to talk to a staff member; we need an appointment.
So why does this all matter now?
Because, despite the inconvenience of having to change some of our automatic debits and credits, we want to change banks. Not just because of the poor service, but because now we are concerned that we will soon be tangled up in the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) requirements of Chase. Although ESG is not yet being applied to individuals, that change is likely to be tried soon.
We know that Gov. Ron DeSantis, along with other states, is clamping down on corporations who think they can dictate the actions and investments of their clients. DeSantis recently acted in response to Paypal freezing funds that belonged to Moms for Liberty, after providing a presentation to the Moms for Liberty group:
A month prior, when DeSantis spoke at the group’s summit in July, PayPal stopped processing their monthly donors and would not let them transfer out any money already in their account. The action was presumably tied to the organization’s ideological views.
Instances just like this one are why DeSantis is working hand in hand with Republican state policymakers to stop the rise of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards. It’s a move that, if successful, would go a long way toward preserving individual liberty and advancing free markets.
ESG metrics are a social credit scoring system designed to transform society by changing the way businesses and, in some cases, their customers are evaluated. Under ESG, companies are awarded or punished with scores based on their commitment to causes favored by elites, not solely traditional business considerations, such as profit, revenue, the quality of goods and services, and employee satisfaction.
DeSantis will present legislation in the 2023 legislative session that would “prohibit big banks, credit card companies, and money transmitters from discriminating against customers based on their religious, political, or social beliefs,” effectively limiting the use of some ESG metrics by financial institutions. It won’t cover every area of potential violation of corporation decision-making, but it’s a start.
Standard & Poors has gotten into the ESG ratings act. Since March, they now issue an ESG Report Card for every state, with a focus that includes climate and social justice activism, and the criteria are arbitrary, according to Utah officials:
‘Russian energy giants Gazprom and Rosneft outscored American energy companies ExxonMobil and Chevron on S&P’s ESG scale,’ they stated. ‘S&P also gave the Chinese state-owned China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation a higher ESG score than ExxonMobil and Chevron, despite human rights violations.’
‘Each ratings company has their own set of metrics,’ Jack McPherrin from the Heartland Institute said. ‘They all have different scoring systems. It’s a complete mess that’s designed to be confusing so that the people who are creating these metrics can manipulate the system however they want. It’s doubtful they really care that much about any specific metrics; they’re just using them to institutionalize a framework of control over the market.’
Although ESG is not being used regularly against individuals, there is a serious potential for its application:
A few different things will determine your personal ESG score, many of which can be discovered via your regular credit report and other public records. Your purchase history and also your sales history will have a dramatic effect on your ESG rating as a person.
The charities that you support will also increase or even decrease your ESG score. The platform will track your personal impact in the environment around you through various means, which will also be used to calculate your individual ESG score.
The purpose behind each person being assigned an individual ESG score is to help reward actions that will help move the world towards sustainability. While there are not currently any downsides to having an ESG score, regardless of how high or how low, there will come a time where too low of a score can result in denials for loans or services similar to the way credit scores currently function.
For now, ESG scores for individuals are used as a tracking tool for companies to monitor behavior. For those who have already started using ESG scores as part of their business model, some people with good scores may notice lucrative offers, easier loan terms, and even targeted packages designed to reward green or sustainable behaviors.
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Although some states, namely Florida, West Virginia, and Utah, are fighting these infringements on our privacy and personal rights, changes are only being made slowly. West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore has banned five banks (including Chase) from state banking contracts, due to those institutions refusing financing for the fossil fuel industry. And I hope that other states will see the virtue and financial benefits of stopping these bankers in their tracks.
Meanwhile, I don’t know where we’ll choose to deposit our funds locally. My beliefs and political choices are none of their business.
Is there a bank anywhere that rejects the ESG requirements?Published in