Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 11-08-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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14 OPINION NOVEMBER 7-13, 2018 | VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER | SMITHFIELD SCITUATE FOSTER GLOCESTER There's a new chink in the armor of politically correct investing – also known as ESG – and it comes to us from, of all places, California. Why should you care? Because if you pay taxes in Rhode Island, you overpay taxes. And if we keep allowing ESG to unduly influence the investing decisions of General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and his panel of advisers, state pen- sion fund returns could suffer, as they have in California. What is ESG? It is the investment style growing in popularity among left- wing politicians. It applies "Environmental, Social, and Governance" standards to the companies they look to invest in. On paper, it could be a good thing. Invest only in companies that "do good" for society, and hold them to higher standards of conduct. What's not to love? Your flat-lining, no COLA (annual cost-of-living adjustment) state pension check, that's what. This "feel-good" investing of your money may not be earning as high an investment return as it should. And when that happens, Rhode Island pensioners remain far, far away from a return of their COLAs. Good investment returns are "free money," and we should capture as much of it as possible. Politicians will tell you a dif- ferent story, that returns have been good with ESG invest- ing. And they are OK. But isn't it possible that returns have been artificially pumped up at least in part because all the politicians are investing bil- lions in the same companies? Of course! Now mind you, I don't care if an individual invests with an eye on ethical behavior by the big shots in charge. It's an honorable act. New funds are available to individuals. But if your fund flops, it's your prob- lem, not mine. When the state pension fund flops, it's every- body's problem. The "chink" came recently when Jason Perez, a sergeant in the Corona, Calif. police department, upended Priya Mathur, who is, according to Barron's, "a 15-year Calpers veteran who was also board president and champion of Calpers' focus on ESG invest- ing." (Calpers in the massive $351 billion California state pension fund). So, a cop knocked off the Calpers presi- dent, who was a big feel-good investor of his money. Said Perez to Barron's, "Calpers social investment focus and lack of (good) returns received a lot of atten- tion of labor up and down the state...everyone noticed the performance and (Calpers) desire to concentrate on social issues." In other words, cops like Sgt. Perez knew they were probably going to have their pensions cut in the future, his money lost on the altar of political correctness. What companies won't politicians (generally Democrat liberals and progressives) invest in? Cigarettes, for one. And "Big Oil," as in fossil fuels. While nobody likes cigarettes (and I don't), the fact is that conflicted and greedy state governments love the tax money cigarettes gener- ate. More importantly, ciga- rettes are hugely profitable. According to Barron's, Calpers "exit from some tobacco stocks in 2000 reduced port- folio returns by $3 billion between 2001 and 2014." That's $3 billions pension- ers won't have – or taxpay- ers will be asked to make up – because social engineers, guided by feelings, were put in charge. With the left it's always the same – "Please judge our good intentions, not our crum- my outcomes." Why should we care 3,000 miles away? Because here, state retirees already have lost their COLAs. Their return is far off. When Treasurer Gina Raimondo enacted pension reform, the state pension account had a 60 percent funding ratio. She promised a COLA return when the ratio improved to 80 percent. Today, it's down to 53 percent, after years of a bull market! Results stink! For the good of all Rhode Islanders, especially our retir- ees and those in state pension plans, Magaziner needs to give up the folly of "feel-good first" investing and bring adults into the room. And for the record, all of this "betterment" would have happened had we elected Michael Riley as Treasurer Tuesday, but we didn't. We never do. And so all of us – including the union laborers urged to vote Democrat – will eventually get burned. None of this makes sense. Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze From the Publisher TOM WARD Perennially, the common law concept of JUS SOLI- or birthright citizenship- comes back into the news. President Donald Trump has thrust the issue full stage and center when he proposed that he will stop the automatic grant- ing of citizenship to most people born on U.S. soil by executive order. Some commentators, includ- ing U.S. House Speaker, Paul Ryan , have scoffed at such a notion stating that an executive order cannot overrule an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. These folks point to the 1868 ratification of the 14th Amendment which begins,"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." More careful scholars like Dr. Patrick Conley, Constitutional lawyer and R.I. Historian Laureate, see the poten- tial Executive Order, if crafted properly, not as an "overruling" of the 14th Amendment (which the President could not do) but as a consistent interpretation of the 14th Amendment , particu- larly focusing on the clause, "subject to the jurisdiction thereof." Let me be clear right here. Neither he nor I are advocating for such an executive order. In fact, I am appalled by the treat- ment and demonization of immigrants which I view as an aberration of the Spirit of America. I asked Dr. Conley for his legal opinion since I also viewed that such an executive order could very well be legally crafted. Dr. Patrick Conley said that such an executive order is not a cut and dry propo- sition. He queries whether somebody in this country illegally can be regarded as "subject to the United States jurisdiction". He answers his own question by noting that they probably are not. He told me that United States Supreme Court jus- tices (where this matter will no doubt land for an ulti- mate decision) could rule that the child of an undocu- mented immigrant who has purposely disregarded American immigration law does not have birthright cit- izenship because the mother never personally accepted U.S. jurisdiction. Dr. Conley further noted that the Court should also rule that a child born of a foreign national, who was in the United States on a legal issued visa or work permit, could be a citizen if born during the period of such legal entry. Case law exists currently about the phrase "subject to the United States juris- diction". For example, diplomats from foreign countries who are here representing their countries are not "subject to our juris- diction" in the technical sense since they are here as functionaries of their own government. Similarly, if a child is born to one of our diplomats abroad, the child is a U.S. citizen since his parent(s) are in that foreign country precisely to repre- sent the United States. Mr. Trump has asserted that no country grants auto- matic citizenship to children of illegal entries. That claim is incorrect since 30 of the world's 194 countries do so. The trend, though, has been to stop the automatic grant. As Dr. Conley noted, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand have ceased such a practice by rescinding auto- matic citizenship. The President could curb his instinct for going over- board by a carefully crafted order. The President has conservative allies on the Supreme Court, including the 2 whom he has appoint- ed so the President's action should not be peremptorily dismissed .This issue of "automatic citizenship "will and should be debated. It is not a spurious discus- sion. Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general. Birthright citizenship is not a cut and dry proposition Feel-good investing flops Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET ABOUT US The Valley Breeze Newspapers are a locally owned and operated group of free weekly newspa- pers serving the people of Cumberland, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster, Glocester, North Providence, Pawtucket, R.I., and Blackstone, Mass. Each Thursday, 60,000+ copies are distributed to retailers, banks, offices, and restaurants and other busy spots. Circulation is audited by the Circulation Verification Council of St. Louis, Mo. and has earned its "Gold Standard Award." OUR MISSION It is the Mission of The Valley Breeze to facilitate a positive sense of community among the res- idents of Northern Rhode Island by providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and to provide information of local events and neighbors. It is our further Mission to provide the highest quality advertising at the lowest possible cost to retailers, professionals, tradespersons, and other service providers in order to enhance the economic well-being of our community. Thomas V. Ward, Publisher tward@valleybreeze.com James Quinn, Deputy Publisher jquinn@valleybreeze.com Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com Doug Fabian, General Sales Manager doug@valleybreeze.com Barbara Phinney, Controller accounting@valleybreeze.com Founded in 1956 by The Burgess Family Volume LXIII, Number 36 November 8, 2018 valleybreeze.com @ Observer THE VALLEY BREEZE &

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