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yet once again, Milton Friedman has been vindicated.

The heirs of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil empire made a media splash recently when they demanded that the oil giant diversify out of oil, of all things. When Exxon holds its annual shareholder meeting next week, the Rockefeller clan will push proxy resolutions requiring the company to invest in noncarbon energy sources, and to create more board of director “independence” from management by splitting the role of chairman and chief executive. To hear the wealthy heirs tell it, Exxon will thus be better positioned to take advantage of the eco-opportunities of the future.

The counterpunch from other, nonwealthy shareholders has now arrived in the form of a letter from union chief Chuck Canterbury. He’s president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, whose 324,000 members have plenty of pension-fund dollars invested in Exxon. In a May 17 letter to Exxon Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson, Mr. Canterbury made clear he and his members don’t agree that Exxon should be used to promote social goals if it means putting worker retirements at risk.

“ExxonMobil is an example of how hard work, efficient management and innovative entrepreneurism breed success,” Mr. Canterbury wrote, noting this was why many union pension funds have invested in the oil company. “The Rockefeller resolutions threaten to degrade the value of ExxonMobil.”

The ultimate social responsibility of (publicly owned) business is to generate profits.

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