FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2017, file photo, The Walt Disney Co. logo appears on a screen above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The Walt Disney Co. has “dramatically” slashed its advertising budget on Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Have you been wondering why the majority of Americans have been thrust into the background of American culture?    

Do you watch television commercials and wonder who is buying this stuff? Each crazy news cycle brings an element of chaos new to our experience. Media narratives, remixing messages and images into new stories is causing us to doubt our beliefs.    

But, as the Eagles sing, “there ain’t no way to hide your lyin’ eyes.”   

We have arrived at the tipping point when years of cultivation have harvested a new crop of rules and a militant group of regulators. Ideologies identified like alphabet soup now guide our domestic and monetary policy. Regulations labeled DEI or ESG, for example, are litigated into the context of domestic policy, not legislated in Congress. ESG ― “environmental, social and governance” ― standards reach into every aspect of daily life.  When applied to climate change and social justice, ESG sounds like good medicine but to really understand the insidious impact of these regulations, you need to follow the money.  

The finance industry, asset managers, celebrity executives and legal experts have applied ESG using some very creative scoring to pick winners that advance a liberal agenda. Decisions about credit and loan applications now reflect the “good” habits of business and institutions. No longer is sound manufacturing and policy practice enough.  Compliance with ESG regulations influences loan decisions. At the recommendation of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), banks will soon be rated on diversity, equity and inclusion, DEI. The balance of power has shifted to those compliant with a liberal agenda.    

The advance of ESG is not limited to institutions. Consider students applying to college or for student loans.  Community service is an expected line item on any application but what is judged to be a valuable endeavor and who are the judges? Is teaching Sunday School as valuable as saving a whale?    

Achievement is only partly considered when applying for higher education. Environmental, social and governance standards are also used to weigh the worth of the applicant.    

We are culturally and environmentally ripe for this limitation on our personal freedoms. Lessons learned as children to modify behavior and accept certain conditions for the benefit of all is second nature. The Covid pandemic has shown us how far we are willing to go, how much we are willing to give, to signal our compliance for the greater good. Requiring a vaccine passport to attend the theater or enjoy a night out was unimaginable a few years ago. Accepting these modifications to our liberty can be a righteous obligation or a subjugation of our freedom. But which is it? Is it both?  

Applying ESG and other constraints shepherd people to accept certain behaviors that they may otherwise avoid. Banks are complicit in advancing this ideology as a board policy adding energy consumption, for example, or social activism as criteria for credit consideration. Let’s say you want to build a railroad to transport produce but can only get a loan to buy a fleet of electric trucks based on new bank criteria. You, of course, would buy the trucks.   

The entertainment industry is heavily weighted in diversity, inclusion, environment and social left-leaning policies. Look no further than the Walt Disney Company to see how a determined liberal agenda pervades these venues. It is not just movies, games and animated characters that advance the notion of liberal rights, company policies now attempt to dictate state legislation on elementary sex education. “Leave it to Beaver” would not make it past the lowest staff editor today because of its DEI violations.  

The babel of abbreviations and mystic language we hear coming from the Capitol is designed to confuse and disorient us. We question our beliefs, doubt our morality. We must be aware of how these policies are applied to — or rather, twisted into — our personal freedom.  This is essential to protecting our liberty.  

The fuzzy language is a “thin disguise” for altering the Constitution without legislation.  

Connie Lovell lives in Pinehurst.