There’s a big holiday coming up and we wanted to make sure you were reminded far enough in advance to get a card. No… I’m not talking about Valentines Day. It’s Global Divestment Day! (Incidentally, Global Divestment Day takes place on February 13th & 14th. Sounds like it should be Global Divestment Days to me, but what can you do?) This is apparently the day(s) when environmental activists push all of the colleges and universities to divest from fossil fuel companies because the money is evil or something.
To spearhead these activities, the interested parties have tapped the talent and resources of author Naomi Klein, perhaps best known for her book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate. (The title alone should tell you all you need to know about her.) She took part in a web chat for the true believers recently where she explained the importance of divestment from energy stocks and their associated profits. But the goal, as she explained it, involves doing a lot more than just getting the trust funds to dump their Chevron stock. That’s not going to solve anything. The real purpose is for the people to rise up, seize control of the companies and take all that dirty money away from them.
Another point I would make, [about] carbon pricing, is that when we make the argument that this is a rogue sector, that their business plan is at odds with life on earth, we are creating an intellectual and political space where it becomes much easier to tax those profits, to increase royalties, and even to nationalize these companies. This is not just about the fact that we want to separate ourselves from these companies, it’s also that we have a right to those profits. If those profits are so illegitimate that Harvard shouldn’t be invested in them, they’re also so illegitimate that taxpayers have a right to them to pay for a transition away from fossil fuels, and to pay the bills for a crisis created by this sector. It’s not just about dissociating ourselves from their profits, but potentially getting a much larger piece of them.
So she wants to create an intellectual and political space. That’s wonderful. The idea of trying to tax the oil companies out of existence isn’t a new one and is very popular among the socialist crowd. But it’s a bit more rare to find one who will go out in public and lay claim to the money they make. That’s some serious, spit on your hands and hoist the black flag stuff right there. This is all based on the premise that their profits are somehow “illegitimate” in the eyes of the activists. I wonder why Occupy didn’t think of that and just go knock on the door at J.P. Morgan and tell them to hand over all the cash?
If these people can convince Harvard and whatever other universities are involved to dump their investments in the energy industry, good for them. I say let them do it. Who really wants those profits going to promote this sort of “education” to begin with? Besides, it’s not like there’s a shortage of other people looking for another solid producer in their portfolio. But the part of this which we’ll want to keep an eye on is how many politicians align themselves with this movement and begin mouthing the same words. This is still (somehow) not a socialist nation and we don’t nationalize companies. The only politician I remember suggesting this in the past was Chuck Schumer, but if more people get on board with such undemocratic ideas they need to be called out.
Since some of you may not believe anyone could actually think this way, the video follows. Don’t worry, it’s not very long.