All Maine newborns invest in largest driver of global warming

daddy with  newborn

I wrote a letter to the editor of the Portland Press Herald in print December 31, 2019 and available online here regarding my concern for Maine children earning money for college from the destruction of our planet.

After researching funds I am invested in related to criminal acts by pharmaceutical companies, I checked on my daughter’s Alfond Scholarship 529 account. It is invested with BlackRock / iShares and I was told there is no way to find out specific investments in drug companies. I didn’t want her invested in companies that mislead the public regarding how deadly some psychiatric medication is.

A little while later while mentioning this at a lunch in Silicone Valley in October, one person mentioned the name BlackRock in the context of climate change. I remembered that is what the Alfond scholarships use and looked it up later.

BlackRock has become known as the company most responsible for investments that drive climate change in the world. I called the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) and though there are socially responsible funds through FAME that other 529 account investments FAME manages can be changed to, for the Alfond Scholarship investments those options are not available. The Alfond Scholarship Foundation myalfondgrant.org decides on what those accounts are invested in.

The Alfond Scholarship Foundation reports on their site that as of 2019, $50 million in grant money, $500 per child for 100,000 Maine children have been invested. Though my daughter’s account was from 2011 and can be cancelled, newborns and their parents starting in 2013 lost the choice to opt in or out as money is invested for them automatically – in the company currently doing the most damage to the earth through investments that accelerate global warming. That is $50,000,000 plus earnings in the name of Maine children accelerating the destruction of our fragile earth.

I expressed my disappointment around this to FAME in the fall. With even children joining protests to demand immediate action on climate change, it weighed heavily on me that all Maine newborns through first graders are invested and earning money from the destruction of our planet – and without the permission of them or their parents.

I would like to see all Alfond Scholarship investments shifted immediately to the socially responsible funds available through FAME to start, possibly with the option for parents to change to other options if say they didn’t believe in climate change, or they really appreciate guns, as BlackRock’s iShares that these children are invested in is also the largest investor in the world of weapons manufacture.

I think it would be an awesome move by Alfond to remove the funds from BlackRock / iShares to show children and parents in Maine how much they care about the future of Maine children. If you do too, please contact them at myalfondgrant.org to let them know.

Male breastfeeding article published in Rebelle Society

Yes you read correctly. I have published a piece on male breastfeeding. I thank my wife for giving assent to publish such a peephole into our private home life conversation that inspired the writing. I wrote specifically for Rebelle Society a platform for “creatively maladjusted rebels with a cause.” My heart sobs regularly for so many treated by the mental health system by force or without information given regarding the consequences of treatment and alternatives to wellness. I sat on the edited article for many months. Then, while with my family at the nearby river on one of the hottest days of the summer I noticed a lone topless woman among the crowd enjoying the river. My 8-year-old daughter had been complaining for days about having to wear shirts when it was so hot, and yes she was quite right. It is just plain wrong that only males are privileged to go topless in public. It was time to do my miniscule part to confront sexism by airing the topic of male breastfeeding. If males bodies have the potential to grow breasts and produce milk, then why should one gender be expected to cover them and the other not?

Check out the article here.

Update:

2-months after I published this piece in Rebelle Society, 2 related pieces were published in the New York Times.

First was an opinion piece by a professor at Stockholm University regarding if society is ready for the breastfeeding father and explores historical evidence of male breastfeeding that I had touched on available here.

Second, and part of my motivation for my writing to get information out that has been minimized is an article about an $8 billion jury award against Johnson & Johnson for a boy who grew breasts when given risperdal at 9 years of age available here.

What Johnson & Johnson has done to children is criminal and the article points out that in 2013 they settled for $2.2 billion in criminal and civil fines related to illegal marketing that has harmed children. Of course the fines do nothing to change criminal business practices as the article points out about $82 billion in revenue came in to Johnson & Johnson in 2018 alone.