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Calpers, which has about $240 billion in assets, agreed at a Feb. 19 board meeting to hold between 0.5 percent and 3 percent of its assets in commodities…..The Sacramento, California-based fund last year put $450 million into commodities, its first such investment.br> Commodities?
This is trader talk for, yes indeed, oil. As in, Big Oil. In other words, to fill its members’ coffers, California unions — Obama supporters and Democrats mind you — are investing Big Time in Big Oil. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — a California Democrat who receives support from Mr. Feckner’s union — plays for votes by saying “oil companies are making tens of billions of dollars in record profits,” she somehow manages to leave out that it is her buddies who in fact are profiting from those very same “tens of billions.”
As it happens, Calpers is also the 13th-largest holder of stock in Democrat billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. In that role, Calpers has shown it is so devoted to its Big Oil investments that in 2007 it even voted against a move by a Berkshire investor to force Berkshire to sell its shares in PetroChina, the Chinese government-owned oil company. The investor was disturbed that PetroChina was doing business in the Sudan, where the government stands accused of genocide by a number of nations including the United States. According to Bloomberg News, a Calpers spokeswoman said that “telling a company how to invest would go beyond a governance issue” that is typically addressed by Calpers. “We believe it would do long-term harm to the company, so we’re voting against it.”
So Mr. Feckner’s union, a huge shareholder in Big Oil, opted to keep the oil spigot gushing for its union members in spite of the fact that this was enriching the Communist government of China and grinding the already terrified targets of the genocide in Sudan. Does liberal Sudan activist actor George Clooney know about this? If so, does he approve? Meanwhile, in Washington, California U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, a Democrat and ally of Mr. Feckner’s union, took to the Senate floor to play the offended Senator, knowing full well the unwary in this election year could respond with votes to anybody appearing to save them from the high prices at the pump. She excoriated Big Oil, saying that when it comes to their huge profit Big Oil should “give it back to us.” Perhaps she should just call Mr. Feckner.
ILLINOIS: Over in Illinois is teacher Cinda Klickna, a contributor to the National Education Association’s Fund for Children and Public Education, a PAC listed as an Obama contributor. Klickna sits as a member of the board of the Illinois Teachers Retirement System (TRS) in Senator Obama’s home state. You may have heard of TRS if the name Tony Rezko rings a bell, Rezko is the Obama friend recently convicted for, in the words of the New York Times, “a plan to steer teachers’ pension investments to firms that would provide kickbacks.”
While mail fraud, as Rezko has now learned, is illegal, political fraud is not only quite legal but commonplace when it comes to Democrats and Big Oil in Illinois. Specifically, according to a February 25, 2008 story in the Dow Jones Financial News Online, the Illinois TRS, the board of which counts teacher Klickna as a member, “has invested $600 million in commodities including oil and gas, making it the second multi-million-dollar commitment by a US public pension plan to such energy assets within a week.”
The Illinois branch of the NEA prominently displays on its website the news of the national NEA’s endorsement of favorite son and Illinois teachers ally Obama. Unlike the Calpers stance with Berkshire Hathaway and Sudan, the TRS has divested itself — because it has been instructed to do so by state law — from any oil company doing business in either Sudan or Iran. But as for oil companies doing business outside of those two countries? No problem for the teachers who love TRS. Hey, it’s only $600 million dollars.
WHICH BRINGS US To the next logical question here: divestment.
Divestment is one of those moral certainties liberals employ when they want to call attention to what they deem bad behavior, as those in Illinois saw over in the Sudan and Iran. It is such a favorite tool of the left that this now becomes the place to ask: When will the Democrats and their political allies divest themselves from…Big Oil? Just….get out? These are companies that are regularly assailed for “greed” or “obscene profits” by any liberal findable by Google. So isn’t now the time for Democrats and their teacher and public employee union allies to forget the oil profits they have been quietly amassing and get out of the oil business entirely? Instruct the teachers and public employee representatives on the boards of pension funds in places like Wisconsin, California and Illinois to just get their members pensions out of the oil business — period? To go look their members in the eye and tell them that they agree with Speaker Pelosi, Senator Obama and Senator Hillary “I want those profits” Clinton? To tell their members the checks they receive are the rotten fruit of ill-gotten gains? To tell them that no retired teacher or any other state or public employee should have to carry the burden of knowing that their retirement security comes not from their years of service but because their leaders have greedily turned them into the lackeys of Big Oil?
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