THE DRIVE-IN – The line begins at the pick-up window, winds around the front and snakes down the drive to the street. These people have made the decision to run to a Chick-fil-A to order one of each. That way they can voice their support for the company’s founder and CEO, Dan Cathy, who donated food to an anti-gay marriage group then issued a statement supporting one-man, one-woman marriages.
It wasn’t exactly an anti-gay message, but that’s what everyone on both sides of the argument made of it. Nor is it clear just why chatty Cathy jumped into the fight and needlessly chapped off a million gays who will boycott the Chickster’s 1,500 fast-food locations, mostly in the South.( No wonder the Bible Belt is expanding.) By contrast, KFC has 17,000 locations in 105 countries. Then there is his mastering of the English language: “Eat mor chikin.” Huh?
Nevertheless, he did enter the brawl and we all took sides, as we do on everything these days – global warming, Joe Paterno, buying bazookas from door-to-door salesmen and boxers vs. briefs. Nothing happens that we don’t angrily take a stand. This left me with a decision. I have never been to a Chick-fil-A, but maybe I should go stand in line for the 23-piece Fatty Feathers with fried onion rings and hushpuppies, buttered biscuit and cream gravy to enliven my cholesterol level while making a political statement. But what about the chikins? I would be supporting the slaughter of helpless free-range roosters, and PETA would drop me from its mailing list seeking more money to cover the cost of its mailing list.
To avoid playing favorites this election I anonymously donated a million dollars to the secret PACs supporting Mitt Romney. Just to cover myself, I donated the same amount to Obama’s secret PAC. To support ending child labor in China I went to Walmart to buy only Made in USA products. I took pictures, recorded my own observations and tallied up the prices on my iPod and iPhone which were made, uh, never mind.
We all like to support our causes of righteousness, the American Way and our own particular religion. I, for example, always pay my federal income taxes to support Newt Gingrich’s Congressional pension to cover his Tiffany’s bills, not to mention my bailing out some of the worlds’ richest bankers and brokers. And like you, I attend rallies for candidates who, if elected, will pave my roads, teach my children, increase military spending and still cut my taxes. And I demonstrate against those candidates who tell me the truth. I only watch Fox News because it tells me that, no matter what bad happened, it wasn’t my fault. That makes me feel better.
Generally, however, we don’t have to choose stores, beers and clothes pins because companies race away from controversy. Why tick off half your customers? Target discovered this problem in 2010 when it gave $150,000 to a group supporting a gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota who had close ties to an anti-gay group. All sorts of trouble followed. Target now sells same-sex marriage cards. Miracle-Gro’s CEO has donated $$200,000 in company funds to a Romney PAC, no doubt to stimulate grass roots organizing.
Sometimes greed overcomes principle. A major Texas grocery chain, owned by hard-shell Christians, refused to sell alcohol – not even a six-pack of Lone Star. Then the family owners bought a north Texas chain and discovered how much cash the brew-and-wine aisles were bringing in. One guess what happened. By the time the family sold to an even bigger chain, their grocery stores were more booze than butter.
We do business with those who give us the best deal, or don’t have video cameras trained on the beer cooler. Rarely do politics enter into the decision. Oh, sure, some angry Cajun shrimpers probably sold their majority stock in BP. No doubt liberal Dems dropped Koch Classic in favor of Sprite Lite. Tea Party members probably avoid French toast, the Cincinnati Reds and left turns.
As we all know, “boycott” — like leotard, hooker, blanket, guillotine and Obamacare — is an eponym, i.e., a word named for someone. Capt. Charles C. Boycott was an English land agent in Ireland around 1880 who was ostracized for refusing to reduce rents. When countries try it to boycott, the action is called an embargo, and works wonderfully well. Note how the U.S. embargoes against Cuba and North Korea have produced the world’s two longest-running regimes. Otherwise, boycotts’ results are pretty mixed. There was the successful Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott by blacks during the early civil rights protests. The US and the USSR traded Olympic boycotts in 1980 and ’84, which were pretty stupid ideas.
As shown by the long lines at Chick-fil-A, there is the opposite of boycott: we can support companies we like. I have long supported the International Brotherhood of the Vodka Industry. Not all Cubans are commies, as I told the tobacconist at my boutique cigar store. (LaTisha at Sam’s Club.) But what if Capt. Charles Boycott’s name had been Capt. Support or Endorse? “I hate that store’s politics. Let’s support it.” Sign on the demonstration line: “No more fur coats! Endorse them!”
Another boycott is by individuals. We don’t go back to places which give us rotten service or products. Example: one of my sons and his wife, both lawyers, have their own firm. A few years ago they went to a fancy restaurant to celebrate their anniversary. They got screwed on the bill and will never return. The two attorneys entertain lots of clients at restaurants, hold staff parties, celebrate taking Exxon for 500K, with expensive meals. That $50 overcharge has cost that restaurant a lot of cash.
After much thought, I decided to support Chick-fil-A and its Christian stand against opposing views. Figuring to join a lot of families who would want a good lunch after church, I went to a store. Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays
Ashby boycotts at email@example.com