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Good Corporate Governance

State of the Union: The problem with ESG is not that firms are considering the morality of their investments.
View Of A Group Of Knights Of Columbus
(Photo by Spencer Grant/Getty Images)

I wanted to add a note to my column on the anti-ESG bill Joe Biden just vetoed.

The problem with the ESG movement is not that firms are considering the morality of their investments. Every investment represents an endorsement by the investor, and anyone with money in the market should care how his money is spent. I would want any firm handling my money to ensure I wasn’t bankrolling abortions with my portfolio.

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When groups like the Knights of Columbus operate asset advisory groups to invest exclusively in morally licit companies and industries—even at the expense of pursuing the maximum rate of return—that’s good, and should be defended.

The question is not whether investment firms should consider the moral content of their investment decisions, even at the expense of returns, assuming those priorities are made clear to investors. The question is whether the values underpinning the ESG movement—racial grievance, sexual license, anti-human environmentalism—are worthy values at all.