It’s a Free Money tradition to answer questions from our listeners.
We generally do this in the Dear Ashby segment at the end of each episode, but upon receiving the very special letter below, we realized it needed a response immediately and in writing.
But first, we must express our deepest gratitude to each of our readers and listeners who have made this year so special. And also to an editorial from 1897 in the New York Sun that responds to a letter from Virginia O’ Hanlon, eight years old. Her letter asked a simple question: Is there a Santa Claus?
We also ought to note that you ought to subscribe to our emails if you haven’t already.
Earlier this month, we received the following missive by mail at Free Money world headquarters.
Dear Sloane and Ashby -
I am sixty-eight years old.
Some of my little portfolio company friends say there is no such thing as ESG.
Papa says, “If you see it on the Free Money podcast, it’s so.”
Please tell me the truth: is there such a thing as ESG?
40 East 52nd Street, New York, NY, 10022.
Larry, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe in anything unless it accretes to the bottom line in this quarter. And they think that if their little minds do not comprehend something, it cannot possibly be.
All minds, whether they belong to investors or management teams, are little. In this great universe of ours, human beings are mere insects - ants - in intellect compared with the boundless worlds around us. We could never hope to grasp the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes Larry, there is such a thing as ESG. It exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they give your life its highest beauty and joy.
How dreary this world would be if there was no ESG!
It would be as dreary as if there were no Larrys. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make this existence tolerable. We would have no hope that capitalism could be a force for good, not just good investment returns. The eternal lights that innovation and social entrepreneurship fill the world with would be extinguished.
Not believe in ESG! You might as well not believe in earnings! You might get your army of analysts to watch all the corporate filings each quarter to catch a glimpse of ESG in the making, but what would it prove if they were to see nothing?
Nobody sees the whole picture with ESG. But that is no sign that there is no such thing as ESG. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor adults can see.
Have you ever seen companies consistently deliver shareholder value? Of course not, but that’s no proof that it’s not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders that are unseen and unseeable in the modern market economy.
There is a veil covering the unseen world that not even the strongest person, nor even the united strength of all the people that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and picture the supernal beauty of ESG fully implemented.
Is it real? Larry, in all this world there is nothing else so real and abiding. ESG is here in our hearts, and a thousand years from now it will continue to make the hearts of all market participants glad.
Sloane & Ashby
A few programming notes
You may have noticed that we have released an episode alongside our response to Mr. Fink’s letter. It’s a great one, featuring a discussion between Sloane, Ashby, Shawn Wooden (Treasurer of CT), Daryn Dodson (Illumen Capital), and Jean Rogers (SASB/LTSE). It was recorded a little under two months ago at SOCAP.
You’re gonna love it.
It has also come to our attention that the Free Money Atelier has been closed by Etsy because our products are “too good.” Well they can ruin Christmas, but they won’t get Easter too! We’ll be back before you know it.
And oh yes, before we forget, if you enjoyed the letter above you might also appreciate Frank Sullivan’s classic: Is There a Republican Party?
Sincere best wishes to you all. We’ll be back again before you know it.