Ben & Jerry’s and the Pitfalls of ‘Woke Capitalism’ – American Enterprise Institute

The founders of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream say they will not give up on their legal effort to block the brand’s parent company Unilever from licensing its sale on the West Bank.  

Their legal complaint rests on the power of an independent board established after the Vermont confection’s 2000 sale.

“The independent board has authority over the social mission of the company,” co-founder Jerry Greenfield told MSNBC. 

A United States district court judge at New York, Andrew Carter, has ruled otherwise. The ice cream maker has until September 27 to appeal.

Ben & Jerry’s has asserted that it seeks to use Cherry Garcia and other products to “make the world a better place” and that West Bank sales violate that goal.

Apart from their naïve virtue signaling about the Palestinian territories,  Ben Cohen and Mr. Greenfield — whose firm has long ranked as a paragon of Environmental, Social, and Governance investing — are blind to the questionable impact of what they sell.

A closer look finds that the ice cream maker is itself open to being viewed as a social problem. The fact that it purports to deserve a high ESG grade shows its conceit, not its virtue. 

ESG is a ratings system that its progressive proponents, including notably Mayor Bloomberg and Blackrock’s Larry Fink, believe should guide investment—and thus create a higher-grade form of capitalism.

Think of it as woke capitalism. In reality, it’s a backdoor way to politicize capital through pressure and regulation, in ways which should be left to elected officials to decide.

Ben & Jerry’s portrays itself as a paragon of this capitalism-plus and purports to “advance human rights and dignity, support social and economic justice for historically marginalized communities, and protect and restore the Earth’s natural systems.”

Yet Ben & Jerry’s core problem is this: its basic product can well be viewed as environmentally and socially harmful. Put simply, it’s a sugar pusher.

This is not to preach against eating sweets, if one wants to do so. Full disclosure:  I enjoy ice cream.

But it is rich  — pun intended — for a firm which purports to help achieve environmental and social benefits to remain blind to the harms which the indulgence it promotes can cause.

Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Brownie Fudge, for instance, contains, as per its nutritional label, 36 grams of sugar in just two-thirds of a cup. That’s as much sugar as the American Heart Association recommends men should consume all day.

Memo to Ben & Jerry’s from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Americans are eating and drinking too many added sugars, which can contribute to health problems such as weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.”

In other words, the firm which is holier-than-thou about the Holy Land is an active contributor to our expanding spending on health care and poor health itself. 

Nor should the firm get a passing grade for its environmental impact.

As the World Wildlife Fund puts it: “Sugar mills produce wastewater, emissions and solid waste that impact the environment … absorbing all the available oxygen and leading to massive fish kills.”

The point here is not that we should all abstain from sugar — but that self-righteous firms like Ben & Jerry’s should abstain from finger-pointing. 

It turns out that before it preaches about geopolitics, it should look in the mirror.

Original News Source Link