Disney’s active opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law resulted in the company’s stock pricing falling and a reduction in its market cap.
The stock’s decline will mostly impact the retirement savings of the working class, said Stephen Soukup, author of the book “The Dictatorship of Woke Capital: How Political Correctness Captured Big Business.”
Disney has engaged in a battle with the state of Florida over the Parental Rights in Education bill, which the company opposes. The measure, passed by Florida’s Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, prohibits the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity to children in kindergarten through third grade, as well as instruction that isn’t age-appropriate.
The legislation has been called by many media outlets and Disney the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. On March 28, the same day that DeSantis signed the bill, the company issued a statement saying that the bill “should never have passed and should never have been signed into law.”
“Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that,” Disney’s spokesperson said in the statement.
Soukup told EpochTV’s “Crossroads” that Disney was spreading disinformation by calling the measure “Don’t Say Gay,” because it tried to make people think that the bill targets gay and transgender people.
“This was simply a bill about what students should be exposed to with respect to heterosexuality, homosexuality, any sort of sexual content in public schools.”
“And Disney has threatened to undermine the legally democratically passed laws of the state of Florida in order to pursue this disinformation,” Soukup added.
Within the last 10 to 20 years, Disney “has involved itself in politics, specifically, to change the relationship between the citizen and the state,” the author said.
Soukup considers such activity a trait of “woke capital,” something he spelled out in his book.
“Woke capital … is a top-down and anti-democratic movement by some of the biggest names in American business to change the way business functions, to change the relationship between business and its customers, and most importantly, to change the relationship between the citizen and the state,” he said.
“The democratically elected Legislature of Florida passed a bill, the democratically elected governor of Florida signed that bill, this is a legal Democratic–Republican bill that has been passed with the consent of the people.”
“By threatening to undermine this duly passed law in the state of Florida, what Disney has done is tried to undermine the will of the people.”
Soukup called this type of behavior “oligarchy.”
Corporate Involvement in Politics Is Concerning
Since Disney’s opposition to the parental rights bill the company’s market capitalization, which stood at nearly $252.56 billion on March 28, shrunk by nearly $47 billion by May 5. The company’s stock price fell by nearly 19 percent during this period.
Market capitalization is a metric that measures the size of a company calculated by multiplying its share price by the number of outstanding market shares.
However, when stock is falling, the people in the company’s management who created the problem are not the ones who suffer, Soukup said.
“The people who hold the overwhelming majority of Disney stock are people who have invested in their 401(k), or their IRA,or some other retirement fund.”
“The people who get hurt are mom and pop who run this hardware store on the corner, who have their entire retirement invested in mutual funds that have shares of Disney.”
According to Nasdaq, institutional investors hold more than 64 percent of Disney’s stock, with Vanguard, BlackRock, State Street, and Morgan Stanley being the largest institutional holders.
Woke capital justifies acting against the interests of shareholders by using the idea of stakeholder capitalism, which stipulates that a company needs to take into consideration the interests of its stakeholders in addition to the interests of its shareholders, Soukup said.
Stakeholder capitalism is an economic system proposed about 50 years ago and promoted by Klaus Schwab, the founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Stakeholders “include the enterprise’s owners and shareholders, customers, suppliers, collaborators of any kind, as well as the government and society, including the communities in which the company operates or which may in any way be affected by it,” according to the WEF (pdf).
In a WEF 2020 white paper (pdf), employees are considered stakeholders. “Stakeholders increasingly expect organizations to care for the health of employees and their families and to uphold their rights to adequate physical and mental well-being,” the paper says.
When Disney opposes the parental rights bill it claims that it “[takes] care of its employees and that it’s fighting on their behalf. That’s the same excuse that Coca Cola and Delta used last year when they were fighting against Georgia’s voter integrity law,” Soukup explained.
When the measure was approved by the Florida Legislature in March, Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek sent a message to employees, especially to the LGBTQ community within the company, expressing his disappointment and regret over the bill’s passage, according to a company statement.
“Starting immediately, we are increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states … Today, we are pausing all political donations in the state of Florida pending this review,” Chapek said in the statement.
“The irony is that a lot of these very woke companies also fight against unionization, fight against any sort of organization among their employees to get better [work] conditions and better wages,” said Soukup.
“Their choice of sticking up for their stakeholders and their employees is purely political and it’s driven in large part by the political predilections of their largest shareholders and their executives.”
Within the last 10 to 15 years large American businesses tried to “usurp the power of government,” Soukup said.
“I consider stakeholder capitalism [or] woke capital—whatever you want to call it—to be the harbinger of a ‘corporatocratic’ state,” he said.
“Disney’s relationship with the state of Florida simply amplifies the concerns that we have about business in general, large business in general, and the concentration of power in a very few hands in business and in asset management.”
“These large corporations have no interest whatsoever in dealing with people and … they wished for the world to be a certain way. And they wish for the people to behave that way. And if they want to go around the people, they’ll go around the government, and they’ll do what they want.”
Soukup said that capital markets hate volatility, citing a CEO of a large asset management corporation.
“Capital markets love dictatorship because it provides stability,” he said.
The Epoch Times has reached out to Disney for comment.