Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Spin/Unspin: Activist Pension Boards

Every Sunday, the OCRegister Commentary page offers "Spin/Unspin," frequently the most enjoyable part of the whole paper. Today the feature deconstructs the fiscal insanity behind the big pension funds' efforts to exert socialist social policy on corporations. Here's the gist of it:

The Spin: William Greider ... a heavy hitter in left-wing journalism, let the cat out of the bag in a recent essay in The Nation in which he documented how "progressives" on many pension boards from coast to coast were working together to promote "socially responsible" behavior in companies whose stocks they hold. ...

And so much for the idea that if you're a CEO, the bottom line is about serving customers and making money. Instead, the pension-board overlords have you on notice: What's most important is that you don't oppose unions, outsource jobs, question global warming, disagree with local environmentalists, or sell tobacco or guns. And, no, you can't even object to "new and stronger" government regulation of your company.

The Unspin: This is going to backfire big time on the left. At a time when taxpayers are increasingly worried about the soaring cost of public employee pay and benefits, the last thing they want to hear is that pension-fund bosses are more interested in social engineering than high returns.