Ralph welcomes Toby Heaps, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Canadian magazine “Corporate Knights,” which ranks the world’s 100 most sustainable corporations. And we welcome back Dr. Bandy Lee, psychiatrist and editor of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” to discuss Donald Trump’s continuing hold on 30% of the American population.
Toby Heaps is the CEO and co-founder of Corporate Knights, and Editor-in-Chief of Corporate Knights magazine. He spearheaded the first global ranking of the world’s 100 most sustainable corporations in 2005, and in 2007 coined the term “clean capitalism.” Toby has been published in the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Globe and Mail, and is a regular guest speaker on CBC.
You see these stories happening all over the world, whether it’s from the oil companies or the electric power companies, fossil power companies, or food companies, or real estate companies. And the ones who are going all in, investing big in the green economy and the more sustainable economy are, more often than not, the ones who are hitting the biggest numbers financially.
Toby Heaps, Corporate Knights
We don’t want to just be doing a beauty contest or be subject to the latest headline. We’re trying to do something that’s reasonably rooted in evidence, and it can be defensible, and it can be considered fair. And we recognize that none of the big companies that we rank are perfect— they all have major issues, which is kind of the nature of the human condition.
Toby Heaps, Corporate Knights
Dr. Bandy Lee is a medical doctor, a forensic psychiatrist, and a world expert on violence who taught at Yale School of Medicine and Yale Law School for 17 years before transferring recently to Columbia and Harvard. She is currently president of the World Mental Health Coalition, an educational organization that assembles mental health experts to collaborate with other disciplines for the betterment of public mental health and public safety. She is the editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President and Profile of a Nation: Trump’s Mind, America’s Soul.
Essentially, [Trump] did not have the capacity to have ideologies or policies. He can’t think at that level. What he can do is to manipulate psychologically those who are vulnerably predisposed and those who have formed emotional bonds with him.
Dr. Bandy Lee
These are the kinds of effects that we expect from having a person with severe mental symptoms holding an influential position and having lots of public exposure. We do have a propagation of symptoms. I’ve been calling this the “Trump Contagion” but what it really is is shared psychosis, which is a psychosocial phenomenon that’s been researched and described since around the mid-19th century.
Dr. Bandy Lee
[Trump voters] are still with him. But they would never support a friend or a neighbor who lied all the time, who had power over them, who described things that weren’t real about what was going on around them or what he did in the past, or who cheated his workers.
In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis
1. The United Autoworkers Union is on strike against the big three automakers. Just before the strike began, the Lever reported that General Motors claimed the union’s demands “would threaten our ability to do what’s right for the long-term benefit of the team.” Yet, for all their crying poverty, the Big Three “have reported $21 billion in profits in just the first six months of 2023,” and “have authorized $5 billion in stock buybacks.” The union’s strategy is also worth touching on, as it is novel for this industry. Instead of all workers going on strike at once, the union plans on “targeting a trio of strategic factories while keeping 90 percent of its members working under expired contracts,” per Axios. However, this story notes the ways industry plans to strike back, notably by utilizing quasi-lockouts at active plants.
2. In a nigh-unprecedented shot across the bow, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has issued a “‘writ of body attachment’, directing the United States Marshals Service to take two corporate officials of Haven Salon + Spa in Muskego, Wisconsin into custody [after they] repeatedly failed and refused to comply with an enforced [National Labor Relations] Board order.” This followed years of opportunities for the corporate officials to settle this dispute and represents the strongest signal so far that the re-energized NLRB will use every weapon in its legal arsenal to protect workers. The Board’s full statement is available at NLRB.gov.
3. The Washington Post reports that since retaking power in Afghanistan, the Taliban has “all but extinguished al-Qaeda.” Yet buried within this story is a much more intriguing tidbit. According to this piece, “The CIA shares counterterrorism information with the Taliban,” per a senior Biden administration official. This official emphasized that this does not include “targeting data or ‘actionable intelligence,’” raising the question of what information exactly the CIA is passing along to the Taliban.
4. In Maine, voters are set to decide on a proposal to “turn the state’s two big private electric companies—Central Maine Power and Versant—into Pine Tree Power, a nonprofit, publicly run utility,” per Bill McKibben in the Nation. McKibben points out that the private utility companies “sent $187 million in profits out of Maine last year—much of it to shareholders in such far-flung places as Qatar, Norway, and Canada.” Moreover, this move could lower rates by “an average of $367 per household per year.” Bernie Sanders has endorsed this effort, declaring “Power belongs in the hands of the people, not greedy corporations.”
5. In an effort to combat food deserts, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson has announced the city will explore the possibility of opening a municipally-owned grocery store. The announcement highlighted that “Historic disinvestment has led to inequitable access to food retail across Chicago, [which] have been exacerbated as at least six grocery stores closed on the South and West sides over the past two years.” This project would seek to provide healthy food for South and West side residents, as well as an economic anchor in these communities.
6. From Variety: The California Senate has passed a bill to “grant unemployment benefits to workers who are on strike,” in a major win for the Writers Guild, SAG-AFTRA, and organized labor more generally. If signed, this will go into effect January 1st, 2024. Currently, only New York and New Jersey offer this safety net to striking workers.
7. A story in LA Public Press traces the disturbing rise of so-called “Tenant relocators.” According to the story, “Lawmakers, tenants and tenant groups say that, across Los Angeles, landlords are buying rent-controlled buildings predominantly occupied by immigrants and using illegal tenant harassment to force people out so they can re-rent their units at market rate.” Further, “Organizers...say tenant harassment is so profitable that it has become an industry in its own right, and that the industry has spawned a profession: the tenant relocator, who cajoles or threatens tenants into leaving while their building falls to pieces around them.” This is yet another case showing the stunning lengths the rich will go to in order to acquire yet more wealth.
8. In Atlanta, over 115,000 signatures have been collected and submitted calling for a referendum on the “Cop City,” project. Yet, when these signatures were submitted, the Clerk’s Office refused to accept them, citing obscure deadline rules. Now, Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock is weighing in with a letter to Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens urging the City to “err on the side of giving people the ability to express their views,” the Atlanta Voice reports. This contentious project will likely continue to be a political flash-point going forward.
9. Arundhati Roy, the world-famous Indian dissident writer, received a major European essay prize on September 12th. She used this opportunity to deliver an explosive speech warning of the danger posed to the world by “the dismantling of democracy in India.” Roy is explicit in naming “India’s descent…into first majoritarianism and then full-blown fascism,” and goes into gut-churning detail concerning the plight of religious minorities in what used to be called the world’s largest democracy. The full speech is available on YouTube.
10. Finally, Yahoo News reports that back in 2015, “Elon Musk Stormed Into the Tesla Office Furious That Autopilot Tried to Kill Him.” Taken from the new blockbuster biography of the tech magnate, the story goes on to say that the Tesla autopilot, “thrown off by the road's faded lane lines,” steered into and almost hit oncoming traffic. This, the book argues, was due to Musk’s insistence on removing light detection and ranging technology – better known as LiDAR – from his vehicles in an attempt to cut costs. Ultimately, the autopilot was not actually fixed; instead, Musk’s chief of staff Sam Teller got the faded lane lines repainted. That may be a functional solution for the world’s richest man, but personally, I wouldn’t take my chances.