plonkee money an english-er's thoughts on personal finance

December 4, 2007

political boycott? – a guest post

Filed under: guest posts,philosophical — plonkee @ 12:00 pm

Thanks to guest blogger rocketc who normally writes on rocket finance for this contribution. He’s one of my favourite bloggers, and a regular commentator here, so I’d suggest that you subscribe to his feed and check out what else he has to say.

Hopefully this post is not too “Americentric” for plonkee’s readership –

The December 2007 issue of Money Magazine recently highlighted a question from a reader about patronage and politics in a column on ethics. It seems that this reader works out at a gym where the owner was a financial contributor to a presidential candidate that the reader strongly opposed. The reader’s question boiled down to whether or not he should support a business where a portion of his fees would end up in the coffers of a politician with whom he had a sharp disagreement. The reader’s alternatives were to discontinue working out or drive an hour away to another gym.

On one hand, the question seems silly – why would anyone take the time to write a national magazine about such and inconsequential matter? Who cares what a retailer does with our cash? Does anybody really take the time to figure out the politics of every business we visit? It is for this reason that I am not a big fan of boycotts – you can find something you don’t like about every single business out there – if you look hard enough. And with whom are we to agree – the CEO, the board of directors, the store manager, the register clerk? Any pressure to patronize businesses with whom we agree 100% seems to be artificial and needless.

I think plonkee’s boycott of chocolate is a slightly different issue because it is based on objective, concrete wrongdoing on the part of the manufacturers. The question I want to ask is, do you ever boycott a company based solely on the political views of the owner?

I tried to think of any businesses where I withhold my business based on the political views of the company and I came up with the following:

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream – The owners of this outfit are two of the most liberal guys around. I can’t stand the thought of giving them any money. But this isn’t a real boycott, I can’t afford B and J’s ice cream in the first place and all ice cream tastes the same to me anyway. I am just as happy with the $2, ½ gallon carton of ice milk from the supermarket as I am with any kind of premium brand.

Citgo Gasoline – Since it is owned by the Hugo Chavez’ leftist government in Venezuela. But then, I don’t think we have a Citgo in our city…

When it comes to boycotts – I guess I stand on principle – unless it’s inconvenient.

I sure hope my political viewpoints are compatible with Starbucks

[plonkee’s note – not only do I think that ice cream should be made into a major food group, I’m a fan of the sort of liberal politics that the Ben and Jerry’s founders espouse and that rocketc dislikes so much. Rocketc assures me that he won’t boycott my blog based on my political views, and likewise, I won’t boycott his blog because we disagree about politics, and religion, and…]

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