Liberals around the nation remain very upset over President Trump’s decision to move forward with the Dakota Access Pipeline project. This includes New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. There isn’t much he can do about the actual pipeline so he needs a new target to strike at. The only one which apparently comes to mind is the bank which is funding a large portion of the capital investment for the construction. That would be Wells Fargo. So what sort of brainstorm does the mayor have in mind? Of course it’s the choice tactic of progressive activists around the nation: divestment. That’s right, the mayor is interested in leveraging the financial power of the city government against the bank. What could possibly go wrong? (Washington Times)
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he would consider divesting from banks that lend to the Dakota Access pipeline, following in the footsteps of last week’s decision by the Seattle City Council to cut its financial ties to Wells Fargo.
“I definitely have Seattle envy because they do such wonderful cutting-edge stuff all the time,” Mr. de Blasio told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer in a Friday interview.
He was referring to the Seattle City Council’s 9-0 vote Tuesday to direct Mayor Ed Murray to inform Wells Fargo Bank that the city will not renew its financial-services contract with the bank when it expires at the end of 2018.
In a more sane world, the residents of any city hearing their mayor describing himself as having, “Seattle envy” would be running for the hills in terror, but this is the Big Apple we’re talking about so it probably all just seems par for the course. So how exactly does the mayor propose to put Gotham’s considerable economic leverage into play? By pulling their resources involved in the city pension plan out of reach of Wells Fargo.
Does any of the sound hauntingly familiar to anyone? It was only just last week when we talked about a different pension plan – that one in Vermont – which undertook a year-long study of a proposal put forward by liberal activists to divest their own pension plan from all activities related to fossil fuels. As you may recall, rational heads prevailed and they realized that this would be destructive to the long-term interests of their pensioners.
We’re left to wonder whether these lessons will set in with not only the mayor but the City Council. It’s true that the denizens of New York City are comprised of like-minded progressives to a tremendous degree. But among those are the leagues of workers and retirees who are either relying on those pensions for their daily bread or plan to be in the future. Striking a blow in the name of solidarity with national progressive causes is always popular when giving a stump speech, but when you start messing with the voters and their ability to cover the monthly bills such high-minded considerations are quick to fly out the window.
Consider the large number of colleges and universities we have discussed here who undertook similar studies at the request of their students. In virtually every case the administrations of those schools determined that fossil fuel divestment was a reckless and unprofitable course of action which would damage the long-term viability of their endowments. The same applies to state and municipal governments. But when you’re the mayor of New York City and keeping an eye on your future political prospects (perhaps even on a national level) such considerations may take a backseat. After all, it’s not his money that he’s playing with.