Monday Miscellany, 7/3/23

Monday Miscellany, 7/3/23 July 3, 2023

The decline of woke capitalism, losing the consciousness bet, and politicians’ “matching donations” scam.

The Decline of Woke Capitalism

Have we passed the high water mark of “woke capitalism”?  A study has found that corporations’ public references to support of “Pride Month” and the LGBTQ cause are down 40%.

From Bloomberg:

For the first time in years, company mentions of “Pride Month” and other LGBTQ terms were on the decline in regulatory filings and earnings calls, a Bloomberg News analysis found.

References to “Pride Month” in filings, presentations and transcripts from April to June at more than 900 of the largest US companies dropped almost 40% from this time last year, the first decline in five years. Other LGBTQ terms showed similar declines, the analysis found. . . .

While some companies, like Target and the Danish food ingredients maker Chr. Hansen Holding A/Scapitulated to the threats, many others went ahead with unchanged Pride Month plans. But, Witeck said, “they were less vocal about it.” . . .

Now, with both anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and legislation growing, Corporate America is getting quieter on the issue, a sign that the commitment to so-called stakeholder capitalism may be fading. After trending up steadily for almost a decade, the four-quarter average of LGBTQ-related mentions fell in each of the past three quarters.

For example, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League have quietly said that they will no longer require players to wear Pride jerseys.

The issue that has customers riled up, according to an activist quoted in the Bloomberg article, is not homosexuality but transgenderism.

Losing the Consciousness Bet

On June 23, 1998, neuroscientist Christof Koch bet philosopher David Chalmers a case of wine that the physical processes in the brain that produce consciousness would be discovered in 25 years; that is, by June 23, 2023.

There are two major hypotheses about how the brain’s neurons might account for consciousness:  the integrated information theory (IIT), which postulates a neuron structure in the posterior cortex at the back of the brain,  and global network workspace theory (GNWT), which postulates an interconnected neuron network  starting in the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain.

This year both hypotheses were put through rigorous scientific tests.  Both of them failed to account for consciousness.  So, on June 23, the neuroscientist paid up.

Read all about it in Decades-long bet on consciousness ends — and it’s philosopher 1, neuroscientist 0, published in the scientific journal Nature, no less.

Politicians’ “Matching” Contributions Pleas Are a Scam

Fund-raising appeals routinely make use of “matching donations,” in which a large donor offers to match smaller donors’ contributions.  This encourages giving, since people know that their gift, however small, will have a bigger impact than it would otherwise.

There is nothing wrong with this when private charities or Christian ministries do it.  But when politicians do it, they are scamming you.

So says Tim Griffin, the attorney general of the state of Arkansas.  He has written a Politico piece entitled One of the Most Effective Political Fundraising Pitches Is Actually a Scam, with the deck “Those promises of a 200 percent, 300 percent or 1500 percent match on small donations are virtually never true.”

Matching political contributions, he points out, would be illegal as violations of campaign finance laws.

Federal (and usually state) law imposes individual contribution limits that would prohibit donors from making the kind of large contributions needed for this sort of matching. For example, the Federal Election Commission limits donor contributions to $3,300 per election ($6,600 for the primary and general election combined). Using simple math, an email promising to have a 1,500 percent match on a single $500 contribution would automatically exceed the federal campaign contribution limits.

So political fund-raisers are not actually using this tactic, but they are saying they are!   Griffin tells about one of his campaigns:

In one of my campaigns, an operative suggested I send a fundraising email containing an offer to “double their impact,” implying that a $50 contribution would yield $100 to my campaign. I already knew the answer, but I asked the consultant, “Who would be matching the contributions?” He told me the truth: “Nobody is actually matching anything.” I then asked why we would tell our supporters something untrue. The operative’s justification sidestepped the moral issue, claiming that: “This is a proven tactic that really helps drive in contributions. Campaigns on both sides of the aisle, up and down the ballot, use this as a way to raise funds.” I told him we weren’t going to lie to our supporters, and we never sent the email.

Indeed, says Griffin, everyone is doing it–Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, progressives, whether they are running for national, state, or local offices–even though they know that there is no matching donor.  They “are all getting in on the scam, enabled by fundraising vendors who privately acknowledge the seediness of it all.”

Attorney General Griffin believes this constitutes fraud and wants to do something about it.  He concludes,

I am writing this to bring awareness to the problem and notify those who fundraise on deception that they do so at their own peril. In Arkansas, political campaigns and consultants who use this tactic should know that I will inform Arkansans and take appropriate legal action. Arkansas grants my office broad authority to investigate scams both under our Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the criminal code. And I will use it.


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