GUEST BLOG: Lois Griffiths – Making a Killing on making a killing

By   /   May 28, 2018  /   2 Comments

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Our NZ Superfund invests in BlackRock. We as a nation are war profiteering. 

What do you really think of war? Well yes of course people get killed. But if it’s our side, or our allies that we claim to share ‘common values’ with  dropping the bombs , don’t they, the otherside, deserve it?

No, no, I take that question back. It was not a fair question. Of course we all detest war. And yet wars, killing, seem to be happening somewhere, all the time. This is not the way for humans to relate. Robert Fisk says that “War represents the total failure of the human spirit.” We should be putting all our efforts, energy and resources into trying to avert complete climate breakdown and into relieving extreme poverty.

But  what if a small coterie of the very wealthy and politically powerful elite believe that  war is good for the economy? Arundhati Roy has pointed out that “Once weapons were manufactured to fight wars. Now wars are manufactured to sell weapons.”

Another question, maybe more pertinent. What do you think of war profiteering? Do you think war profiteering is OK morally? What do you think of buying shares in the world’s largest military corporations? Would you yourself? 

It’s wonderful that NZ Superfund makes it possible to have an universal benefit to everyone over 65. Many people around the world must be envious.  The Fund is supposed to be ethical. I have always thought it was although I have in the past raised a few questions that went unanswered, especially about Israel Chemicals , manufacturer of white phosphorus. 

Anyway, otherwise I have assumed that Superfund set a high ethical standard. So I was surprised to read about a demonstration held by CodePink outside the offices of BlackRock. CodePink are my heroes. It’s an American NGO that bravely opposes militarism, military and police injustice  whether in the US or Gaza or  Iraq, or Afghanistan or  Yemen or … I have so much admiration about one of the founders, Medea Benjamin. I’ve read her books  about Drone Warfare and about Saudi Arabia. Maybe she’s written others as well.

But BlackRock? Why a demonstration against BlackRock? Who, or what, is Black Rock? 

A little bit of research told me that BlackRock is the world’s most powerful private equity giant!

For more information, visit here.

  “BlackRock, … now has $6 trillion in assets under management, making it larger than the world’s largest bank (which is in China) 

 Die Zeit journalist Heike Buchter, who has written a book in German on it, calls BlackRock the “most powerful institution in the financial system” and “the most powerful company in the world”—the “secret power.” Yet despite its size and global power, BlackRock, along with Blackstone and other shadow banking institutions, managed to escape regulation under the Dodd-Frank Act. BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, who has cozy relationships with government …”

And why was CodePink  demonstrating outside their Manhattan head office as a shareholders’ meeting was being held? 

CodePink explains… 

 “…the weapons BlackRock invests in “are being used in places like Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. Those weapons are also in our streets, going into the hands of the police forces. We see the impact of these investments around the world and at home. We are calling on BlackRock, the world’s largest investment firm, to divest from war.”…”The companies that BlackRock invests in include Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon—these are just a few of the companies that make billions off of America’s endless wars.”

and at  what_we_did_outside_blackrock_this_morning

“In Yemen, BlackRock invests in weapons that are being used to produce the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. It rakes in billions while Yemeni children starve and die from treatable diseases caused by endless conflict. In Palestine, Blackrock invests in Elbit drones that fly constantly over Gaza. As Israel’s largest weapons company, Elbit has played a major role in all of Israel’s massacres in Gaza. As Elbit profits from Palestinians’ suffering, so too does Blackrock.”…”The time is now. Take a stand with us and demand that BlackRock #DivestFromWar and stop making a killing on killing!”  

The CodePink demonstration is not surprising then. 

There is a New Zealand connection. Our NZ Superfund invests in BlackRock. We as a nation are war profiteering. 

One of the entries in the NZ Superfund  Equity list is:

United States  BlackRock Inc 11,781,947 Capital Markets

Surely the professional staff at NZ Superfund know what is going on. Parliament should call on the Guardians to divest from BlackRock and any other war-profiteering corporation or investment bank. 

This would be a good first step in New Zealand showing international leadership that is so badly needed. 

Our leaders like to describe New Zealand as sharing ‘common values’ with the US. Common values? What common values? Whose values? The American financial and political elite do not share ‘common values’ with most American people, trapped in a system that leaves them powerless and desperate. 

Surely most Kiwis share ‘common values’, not  with the financial and political elites, but  with those Americans, including the wonderful CodePink people,  who are appalled by the ever increasing  inequality , the violence of the militarized police , the political power of the military corporations. 

There is a Church expression, Kairos Declaration , used by the South African Churches in the apartheid days and now used by Palestinian Churches. Kairos..NOW..the time is NOW..to turn from militarism,  war and war profiteering and rediscover the skills of diplomacy and our common humanity. Divesting Superfund from BlackRock would be a good start.

NOW!

 

Lois Griffiths is a human rights activist.

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2 Comments

  1. Francesca says:

    Lois, I am in total agreement with you.
    There’s a horrible circularity though. Ethical enterprises cant get off the ground as no one will invest when the huge profits gained from weapons manufacture give a better return.
    I long for NZ to be an ethical country, I feel we would be a force to be reckoned with

  2. Lone Comet says:

    Thanks for this interesting article but are you from a church? …. What is the NZ super fund, does it have anything to do with Kiwi Saver? What can we do to stop the Superfund supporting Black Rock on a grass roots level? I do believe what Roy says is true …. Britain is desperate to sell weapons, its obvious in the media reporting , so other countries who make arms will be in the market too. Arms sales = big money; no war=no market. It is clear what arms manufacturer will want. War. It is not even cynical to think this, it has been going on for so long it is received fact. But who are you representing and what is your solution?