The 'Anti-Woke' Right-Wing Bank That Promptly Went Bankrupt

Toby Neugebauer

What do you want your bank to be? I want mine to be nearby. I want it to have nice tellers. I want my deposits to be government insured in the event of a failure. Check, check, check.

Should I worry that my bank is too woke, whatever anyone means by "woke" these days? Right-wingers are peddling the argument, tailored for the rubes, that when financial institutions factor such concerns as the environment, social equity and governance (ESG) into their business, they are endangering themselves.

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted that the failure of Silicon Valley Bank "is what happens when you push a leftist/woke ideology and have that take precedent over common sense business practices." Wonder how he would explain his father's six bankruptcies. Leftist ideology was probably not behind them, but something must have taken precedence over "common sense business practices."

Wall Street Journal columnist Andy Kessler, noting that SVB's bank board was 45 percent women and had one Black and one "LGBTQ+" member, opined that SVB may have been "distracted" by diversity concerns. It happened that the board was over 50 percent white and male, but hey.

If a private company adopts policies and hiring practices antithetical to its business interests, then it suffers. That said, the executives and stockholders at Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup — companies accused of wokeness — are doing quite well, thank you.

One of SVB's big customers was Peter Thiel's Founders Fund. Thiel is a multibillionaire entrepreneur and major backer of Donald Trump and other right-wing pols. SVB went under because of problems in risk management.

As for his banking acumen, Thiel had previously put millions in GloriFi, an "anti-woke" bank that collapsed in a spectacular manner. It seemed a group of super-rich investors thought they could make some bucks marketing a bank for "plumbers, electricians and police officers" who are "fed up with big banks that don't share their values." The idea of peddling patriotic banking to the little guys was born in some festive plutocratic gatherings held in the 16,000-square-foot Dallas home of investor Toby Neugebauer.

GloriFi was to offer the usual banking services: accounts, credit cards, mortgages and insurance. But the hook was the claim it would give good Americans the freedom to celebrate "love of God and country." It was offering "respect" for people they insisted "don't feel loved," Neugebauer said. Flags and pictures of blue-collar workers surrounded by family filled its website.

One thing GloriFi was not offering the plumbers, electricians or police officers was advantageous interest rates.

Having burned through $50 million, GloriFi shut down last November under a fusillade of anti-woke mismanagement. For example, it tried but failed to make credit cards out of the material used for shell casings(!). Neugebauer abused its employees when in his cups, which was a lot of the time, according to The Wall Street Journal.

GloriFi stiffed vendors. (Would that include electricians and plumbers?) It did provide work for police who were called to a P.F. Chang's in Dallas, when Neugebauer angrily threatened to ruin the life of a high-ranking employee who wanted to leave the company.

GloriFi must have had Bank of America quaking with fear.

The enterprise shut down last November, right after Thiel spent $32 million trying to elect a Congress to his liking. The super-patriot was also obtaining a passport from Malta. That gave him citizenship in four countries.

As Thiel apparently sees it, America is where you make your money, not where you pay taxes. (He used a chink in U.S. tax law to shelter $5 billion from federal taxes.) Paying taxes, after all, is a job for the plumbers, electricians and police officers.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

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Republicans Prioritize Debt Payments To China
1 U.S.A dollar banknotes
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

House conservatives have devised a "new and improved" threat to the world economy if their demands are not met. Once again, they vow to vote against raising the cap on U.S. debt if desired cuts in government spending are not made.

Once again, they insist their plan would not crash the world financial markets, because it would guarantee payments to holders of U.S. debt. Only Americans expecting to be provided certain government goods and services would get stiffed.

(That the U.S. debt is tantamount to a balance already on the national credit card does not seem to have gotten through to them.)

This move is not political genius, according to Senate Budget Committee Chair Sheldon Whitehouse. "As a Democrat, I actually look forward to them voting to put foreign investors ahead of American families for payment," he told Politico. "I'm not sure that's the message they want to take to the public in 2024, but God bless them if they do."

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy hasn't scheduled a vote on the House bill but had promised to do so during his desperate effort in January to obtain the leadership post. He wanted it that bad.

Republicans seem to have not learned their lesson back in 2011, when Democrat Barack Obama was president. They came up with a scheme envisioning only a "technical default" that, they imagined, would not shove the economy over the cliff. Under that plan, the government would continue to pay interest on the debt while putting off payment of other bills — for instance, Social Security benefits.

The financial markets were not amused. Just the fear that the United States would go into default caused the S&P 500 index to sink 7% in one day. Standard & Poor's then took away America's triple-A rating for the first time in history, costing U.S. taxpayers at least $19 billion in higher interest costs.

The voting public was also not amused. The next year, Obama was reelected. Democrats gained two seats in the Senate and eight in the House.

This time is different, so they say. Republicans would give President Joe Biden the authority to continue paying Social Security and Medicare benefits by borrowing beyond the debt limit. That would remove some sticks of political dynamite.

Nevertheless, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen would still have to figure out how to pay for such things as national defense and veterans benefits. She'd have to find a magical way to pay government contractors, federal workers, state and local governments, and other beneficiaries of government programs.

China, meanwhile, would not have to worry at all about the U.S. making good on the $1 trillion it holds of U.S. debt. This bill is about defunding America, not China.

Meeting debt obligations to China while making American farmers sweat does not sound like a political winner. But politics aside, these threats against the full faith and credit of the United States are a form of economic terrorism.

Why haven't these Republicans come up with a comprehensive list of cuts to make? Because the game is the thing. When Donald Trump was president and the national debt rose by nearly $8 trillion, they turned into obedient sheep voting multiple times to raise the debt ceiling.

The creepy part is their insistence that playing this latest game of chicken is a harmless way to encourage a level of fiscal courage that they've never shown.

As Whitehouse put it: "They are composing an imaginary world in which the debt limit has been breached and there is not catastrophe. This bill normalizes that."

The U.S. defaulting on any part of its debt would have disastrous consequences. That's in the real world.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at

Reprinted with permission from Creators.