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Republican Quixotes attack investors’ choices and sources

Four hundred years ago Miguel de Cervantes created a protagonist who imagined himself a bold knight as he fought windmills he perceived as invading giants. Don Quixote remains the ultimate example of a madman who devotes great energy to attacking an enemy that is neither real nor important.

Well, June 6, some Idaho officials are meeting to lead a charge on information involving windmills and other forms of green energy. Idaho Public Television will stream comments of self-proclaimed heroes U.S. Sen. Mike Crappo, State Treasurer Julie Ellsworth, Rep. Sage Dixon and Sen Steve Vick as they kick off a fight to keep investors ignorant.

William Spence of the Lewiston Tribune recently reported on three giants these Idaho officials have chosen to battle.

One, some financial institutions are refusing to invest in companies extracting coal and oil. That’s right, private corporations are following the decisions of their boards and their investors. You’d think this would be applauded by supporters of free markets, but not so. These institutions are seeking to cut global warming which is, after all, a liberal concept embraced by three-quarters of the American public–but not by the Republican party and its major donors.

Idaho has joined a number of states in threatening consequences.

Two, Standard and Poor’s, one of the three credit rating services for businesses and government agencies, has recently added “environmental, social and governance” issues (ESG) to their rating system. According to, these can include criteria as diverse as deforestation and water usage, data security and fair labor practices, and internal corruption and diversity of board members.

In a May 18 letter, Idaho officials stated, “We..object to S&P’s attempts to overlook Idaho’s sound financial management in favor of evaluating its political priorities.”

But, according to S&P, nothing has been overlooked. The new criteria have not affected the rating of Idaho–or of most other states. (I’m wondering if Florida’s attack on the Disney Corp. made it the exception.)

So, again, Idaho officials want to prevent a private business from adopting policies approved by its board as a means to better serve the investors which are its customers.

State Treasurer Ellsworth has stated that inclusion of ESG measurements are “a movement to advance public policy agendas through undemocratic means.”

Oh yes, our Republican leadership is devoted to democratic means–so much so that they’ve worked to do away with initiatives and to make voting more difficult.

And, at least a dozen Republicans have lectured me about living in a republic, not a democracy which, they claim, is equivalent to mob rule. In a republic, they explain over and over, representatives are to do what they see as best rather than listen to the majority. (China, Iran, and Venezuela are among the nations that qualify as republics. Remember the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics? Fortunately, the United States also qualifies as a representative democracy.)

The third opponent of our stalwart officials is a Federal government agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission. That agency has proposed a rule requiring companies to report on their “climate change risks” and greenhouse gas emissions.

Apparently, the agency isn’t proposing that they’ll judge these things itself and impose a rating. It’s just requiring companies self-report to the public.

Yet, Idaho officials apparently see such information as dangerous in the hands of investors.

So our four stalwart Quixotes are setting out to keep investors uninformed about the risks involved in advancing cash to private and government entities. And, to generate campaign donations from polluting industries, of course.

“Keep ‘em in the dark” seems a current Republican mantra.

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