It’s Friday, so some feedback, in which I’ve been deluged this turbulent week. One respondent simply said “go to hell,” another accused me of being a child trafficker, a third sent a selfie of his middle finger.
I’ll share a few of the more articulate ones. Several CEO Daily readers remain convinced that the November election was distorted by fraud.
“The evidence is all over the place if you want to look for it…voting laws being change by officials when that is the purview of only state legislatures…reversal of hundreds of thousands of votes in the wee hours of the morning…hundreds of sworn affidavits of from people who witnessed many violations and ballot stuffing.”
“It is a shame when you won’t recognize voter fraud when the evidence has been clearly presented. Nothing to see here folks, move along. Pathetic.”
TD suggested that the view the election was riddled with fraud has become so widely shared that it needs to be dealt with. His suggestion:
“What if Biden created a huge commission, headed by the most conservative figures imaginable, to thoroughly evaluate this?”
Perhaps that would help. But if people haven’t been convinced by Trump’s Attorney General, Trump’s Department of Homeland Security, the election officials of all fifty states and the judges in more than 60 courts, why would they be convinced by a commission?
A couple of respondents also questioned why the attack on the Capitol created such media outrage, when the violence that accompanied this summer’s racial protests did not.
“After spending months glossing over, downplaying, and denying significantly more violent, more destructive, and more widespread violence, all of a sudden, we’re supposed to be upset when extremists on the right take a page out of the same playbook?”
Then there was this comment on my note that many business leaders were hoping for divided government, to temper the proclivities of the Democrats’ progressive wing.
“Some of your readers like me are Democrats who are relieved that the Senate is in the hands of the Democrats. I’m so tired of the ‘progressive’ fear mongering. Joe Biden is a moderate.
And finally this, in response to my rhetorical question about how democracy can survive in a world where facts are up for grabs:
“It survives by leaders starting to tell the truth about issues and events. It starts by leaders realizing they have been elected to serve the people and the nation not themselves. It starts by holding those responsible for this s–t show accountable. It starts by people like you that have a platform and the respect of many many folks compelling leaders forward away from their self serving attitudes and behavior.”
I’ll end with that. Glad the week is almost over. More news below. And be sure to read David Z. Morris’ instructive analysis of what happened Wednesday here.
Biden’s inauguration was good news for our world
Good morning. David Meyer here in Berlin, filling in for Alan.
I’m a South-African-British dual citizen living in Germany. So, while I’ve been saddened by the rancor that’s infected American politics over recent years, and while I naturally have personal opinions on the issues that divide the country, I’m not an American voter, and my family and I have no direct stake in the choices that American voters make.
Except when it comes to one particular issue: the climate emergency.
The world is heating up due to human actions, and there is strong scientific consensus that this will have terrible outcomes if not mitigated. We’re seeing them already, in the U.S., in Germany, in the U.K., in South Africa—everywhere. We all share this world, we are all suffering from its degradation, and we must all act to save it.
That responsibility lies with every country, but there’s no getting around the fact that the greatest onus to cut carbon emissions rests on the biggest emitters, namely China, the U.S., the EU, India and Russia. The fifth entry on that list is dragging its heels—and shame on the Putin regime for that. But China, the EU and India are all taking this challenge seriously, and it is of the utmost importance that the U.S., the second-biggest emitter, does the same.
Based on this, I can only applaud yesterday’s inauguration of President Joe Biden. I’d do the same for a Republican president who took the climate emergency seriously—on this side of the pond, it’s much less of a partisan issue, and I hope that will soon become true in the U.S. as well.
As soon as he took office, Biden was a whirlwind of climate-defending activity. Most importantly, he recommitted the U.S. to the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius. The significance of this is enormous.
Before yesterday, countries producing half of all global carbon emissions had committed to carbon neutrality or net-zero emissions. “Today’s commitment by President Biden brings that figure to two-thirds,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres as he welcomed the move.
But, Guterres warned, “there is a very long way to go. The climate crisis continues to worsen, and time is running out to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and build more climate-resilient societies that help to protect the most vulnerable.”
I have no doubt that the U.S. will be rewarded for bringing its considerable heft to this fight, not only in terms of national security—climate change is a far more fundamental threat than terrorism—but also when it comes to international standing. The country will find it easier to achieve its foreign-policy aims when others see it as a partner rather than a holdout.
It should also go without saying that clean-energy investors will find the new administration’s policies rewarding. Solar stocks are on a tear, thanks to the prospect of more stimulus and subsidies, and the likely continuation of low interest rates that aid financing for new projects. Unsurprisingly, with a green-hued infrastructural push on the way, a BofA note this morning points out that fund managers are throwing money into energy and materials.
All in all, yesterday’s transition provides grounds for climate optimism around the world. But now there’s work to do. More news below.
Do government deficits matter?
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In support of political contributions
Most Americans don’t want CEOs involved in politics. A poll conducted last week by Golin and Ipsos found only 41% favored CEOs weighing in on disputed elections, and only 43% wanted them speaking out on impeachment. On the other hand, 74% say CEOs should call for unity and a peaceful transfer of power, and 57% believe it was appropriate for CEOs to speak out after the January 6 insurgency at the Capitol. That pretty well tracks with the way most CEOs and business groups have behaved since election day. They kept their powder dry until all legitimate avenues for disputing the election were exhausted, then came out strongly endorsing the election results and attacking efforts to undermine them. Relatively few have backed impeachment. (You can see the poll results here.)
But how about political contributions? That’s the question raised last week, as a host of companies—Marriott, AT&T, American Express, Best Buy, Cisco, Comcast, Dow and Amazon among them—suspended campaign contributions to members of Congress who challenged the election results. Another large group—Microsoft, Boeing, Blackrock, Coca-Cola, JP Morgan, Ford, GM, UPS, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup—temporarily halted all political contributions to members of both parties. (Quartz has a more comprehensive list of what companies did here.)
Some business leaders are even contemplating permanently shutting their political action committees and exiting the money game altogether. But absent a broader overhaul of campaign finance—which is unlikely anytime soon—I think that’s a mistake. Most big companies remain balanced players in the money game, dividing their dollars roughly equally between members of each party. Walmart, for instance, has kept its contributions at exactly 50-50. Their strategies have less to do with trying to influence outcomes, and more to do with assuring they have access to whoever wins.
The more important question for 2021 is how big business uses that access. There are a host of issues where business has the potential to help broker positive outcomes for the U.S. economy and society: economic stimulus, infrastructure, worker training, climate change. On each of these, business leaders occupy the center, and can help bring the parties together to solve urgent problems.
But on tax and regulatory issues, in particular, corporations will be playing defense. And they’ll be tempted to use what influence they can muster to seek tax breaks and regulatory exemptions that aren’t in the broader public interest. That’s where the commitment to stakeholder capitalism will be tested. The nation desperately needs business involved in government. But business, now more than ever, needs to use its influence to focus on solving long-term challenges.