Laboring Through Bilge on Labor Day

As is the case when we draw nearer to election time, the press is full of dubious polls and the rantings of media-designated seers and pundits. What I rely on is the evidence of my own eyes: higher inflation, ever higher taxes, higher energy costs, and more extreme efforts by the administration and Big Three investment funds to impose their will on us, particularly in managing production of things the morons at the top have no idea how to produce or distribute.

Most disturbing to me as a person who haunts social media for links to articles, views, and insights I might otherwise miss, was the story this week on how the administration -- which most certainly leaked COVID and Hunter Biden disinformation to the mainstream media -- used its iron fist in a velvet glove to censor the flow of information on alternate media.

The beauty of our federal system is that it can throw some roadblocks into the march toward fascism. And so it was that two states sued to fight against the administration using private social media platforms to censor speech. 

Discovery in that case has proved their suspicions were warranted. Scientists and doctors who disagreed with the CDC messaging on COVID were effectively censored by “45 officials at five agencies -- the Department of Homeland Security, CUSA, CDC, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases along with White House officials, including White House lawyer Dana Remus, Rob Flaherty, Deputy Assistant to Biden, and advisor Andy Slavitt.” 

Meta has disclosed that at least 32 federal officials, including top officials at the White House and the Food and Drug Administration, were in communication with it about content moderation. Many of the officials weren’t identified in the response by the government.

YouTube disclosed 11 officials not divulged by the government and Twitter identified nine, including senior officials at the State Department.

“The discovery provided so far demonstrates that this Censorship Enterprise is extremely broad,” plaintiffs said, adding later that “it rises to the highest levels of the U.S. Government, including numerous White House officials.”

Additionally, the FBI wasn’t identified even though the agency recently said, after Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the bureau reached out before the 2020 election, that it routinely issues communications to social media companies.

More discovery is needed to uncover the full breadth of the pressure campaign, plaintiffs told the judge overseeing the case.

We await the fruits of discovery in that case respecting the full extent of the administration’s censorship through social media of the Hunter laptop story, though Facebook’s contolling shareholder Mark Zuckerberg already confessed that they did.  Twitter suppressed the story entirely. Facebook limited its distribution. Kind of like saying you have free speech but only in a subterranean chamber where no one can hear you.

Basically the background here is the FBI, I think basically came to us -- some folks on our team and was like, "Hey, um, just so you know, like, you should be on high alert. There was the -- we thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election. We have it on notice that basically there's about to be some kind of dump of -- that's similar to that. So just be vigilant."'

Zuckerberg said that if something is reported as misinformation, it has a third-party fact-checking team that determines if it's is misinformation. 

'So our protocol is different from Twitter's. What Twitter did is they said "You can't share this at all." We didn't do that,' Zuckerberg said. 'If something's reported to us as potentially, misinformation, important misinformation, we also use this third party fact-checking program, cause we don't wanna be deciding what's true and false,' he continued.

'I think it was five or seven days when it was basically being determined, whether it was false. The distribution on Facebook was decreased, but people were still allowed to share it. So you could still share it. You could still consume it,' he said. 

It’s not just free speech that’s being hampered. It’s free enterprise. Three investing giants effectively control each other, their market competitors, and our most important corporations. These investment managers with huge portfolios are exercising their power to shove down corporate throats the misguided ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) policies which abandon fiduciary and sound investment policies and operate instead on subjective, ill-considered criteria. 

Recently 19 states have signaled their intention to sue to stop this nonsense

The Wall Street Journal carried an article by Dan Morenoff, who said it’s time to do more to stop this pernicious overreach which is crippling the free market, and (in my view) particularly energy production.

The author argues that it’s time to invoke the Clayton Act’s anti-trust provisions and in support cites some disturbing facts:

Through their management of passive investments, the Big [BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street] collectively hold the largest voting blocs for nearly the entire S&P 500. Among them, they control a predominant share of the exchange-traded fund, or ETF, market, and of most participants in nearly every other market. Two of the three (BlackRock and State Street) are publicly traded companies, and so their officers disclose under oath in regular federal filings their institutional shareholders. In this paperwork, they regularly tell us not only what they own, but who owns them.

The answer reads like a punch line: The Big Three own each other and themselves. [snip]

There are good reasons to worry about the downstream effects of the same set of players owning all the competing companies in other industries. Many in the academy have encouraged prosecuting these companies under Section 7 of the Clayton Act -- an antitrust statute, enacted in 1914, that bars any stock acquisitions or ownership that “may substantially lessen competition.” Those concerns should be even stronger when the players in question not only own but control each other. The U.S. hasn’t seen this sort of corporate entanglement since Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft busted the original trusts a century ago.

The Big Three’s present relationship explains why none of them defect from the ESG game. They can’t, because they’re not independent actors. The few other genuinely independent actors in the system -- such as Fidelity -- are privately held and controlled by families wealthy enough to prioritize luxury beliefs over productivity. Similarly, ownership and control explains why no other major player in the American financial-services industry defects and challenges the investing giants. [snip] No substantive competition exists within the ESG paradigm because under the noses of our antitrust regulators the Big Three have acquired shared control over one another and almost every potential competitor. That’s not a situation that can be fixed with probing letters or industry-specific litigation alone. We’re now facing the original problem that Congress wrote American antitrust laws to address -- coordinated ownership of everything by concentrated cliques pursuing their own priorities at the expense of the common good. 

Are we all muzzled peons toiling in the fields to enrich those the administration and Big Three investment firms wish to enrich -- at our great loss? Looks that way. Maybe this Labor Day we should concentrate not on the minutiae of the various races around the country and instead work to support candidates who will scotch government control -- even through muscling private operations -- of free speech and debate and break up the chokehold on American corporations and the economy by the Big Three investment funds.

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