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Corporations and Social Issues

19.01.06 Thursday
08:59 pm - Corporations and Social Issues Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Rev. Ken Hutcherson's call for the boycott of Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, Nike and other companies that support legislation to treat sexual orientation as a protected class is intriguing.

On one hand, I think it's wonderful that consumers are evaluating the ethics of a company and making purchase decisions accordingly - that is the responsibility of an informed electorate in a capitalist society. If people did the same thing regarding unfair business practices, child labor, poor production quality/design, etc then we would need less government intervention and would be creating an incentive for businesses to uphold ethics consistent with these value systems.

On the other side, we've all seen how the introduction of social issues into politics has polarized the nation and allows presidents like George Bush to be elected based largely on their social platform as opposed to their qualification as a leader or their stance on, say, the economy and foreign affairs. In this regard, social issues have become a smokescreen behind which important issues are buried and support is rallied.

The idea of people choosing products purely based on religious affiliation and opinion over social issues creates a precident that I find frightening. I can't imagine most of my friends buying products from companies that openly deny employment to homosexuals; likewise I can't imagine the Christian or extreme social conservatives buying products from companies that openly support homosexuals. The idea of company's being pressured to weigh in on this issue further polarizes the nation and pushes politicians and corporations away from their primary responsibilities.

Of course, the other issue behind this is companies using their financial influence to dictate political decisions and, as the article points out, social policy. That isn't much different than the church or any other special interest lobbying for their view to be universally applied via a political channel. I may personally agree with the view in this case, but it's a dangerous precident (albeit, really, one that has been established by both corporations and churches some time ago).

{int i; i=30; i++}

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lormagins [20.01.06::05:38]
with the separation of church and state doc i'm almost done with (can't wait to buy a keg of grain alcohol when this bastard's done), i've found that the extremists on both sides are loud, but few. the majority of people and in particular the pundits and "influentials" actually have a lot of common ground. i went into this doc feeling a similar fear to what you're talking about, and after interviewing people on all sides and from varying background of experience, i've found there that although these people *think* there's a lot of polarization, if they actually bothered to listen to eachother they'd realize how much they actually agree on on this issue. the problem is people aren't talking to eachother, they're just talking at eachother.
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tyrven [20.01.06::05:50]
I definitely agree with that: I really believe that if people went out of their way to UNDERSTAND one another then they'd find that even if they don't agree with one another that they can at least respect eachother given their unique perspectives. I also think that they'd find, as you say, that they aren't as different as they may think (either in base ideologies or otherwise because they're both moderates being polarized by overstated social/political divides).

That said, I hope the divide isn't as extreme as it sometimes appears to be (from a political perspective). I think this call for boycott will demonstrate that one way or the other. If it fails, it'll definitely send an important message to the country and will probably give more companies and politicians the courage to stand up for social issues that they feel are important.
lormagins [20.01.06::03:07]
tyrven [20.01.06::11:33]
tyrven [20.01.06::05:55]
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amai_unmei [20.01.06::05:52]
Ken Hutcherson is one deluded Negro, and I never want to cross him because I'll tell it to his face.
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tyrven [20.01.06::05:58]
That sounds entertaining. I'd like to photograph that. Can it be arranged?
amai_unmei [20.01.06::06:08]
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colvincd [20.01.06::06:01]
You should be disturbed: I fail to see how his position is very different than, say, the Nazis telling people to boycott Jewish shops. After all, there was once a time where Christians hated Jews as much as they (some of them anyway) hate Gays now.
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popcultureicon [20.01.06::06:04]
just like i should be dusturbed that those god damned hippies exerted their consumer will on exxon after the valdez oil spill.
those filthy jew hating naz-hippies.
Moral absolutes at work - tyrven [20.01.06::06:16]
Re: Moral absolutes at work - popcultureicon [20.01.06::06:21]
Re: Moral absolutes at work - tyrven [20.01.06::07:13]
tyrven [20.01.06::06:11]
colvincd [20.01.06::08:00]
tyrven [20.01.06::11:16]
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popcultureicon [20.01.06::06:03]
borders health care plan covers domestic partners.
as well as recognizing domestic partnership for all other employment related purposes.

hopefully this will lead to the idiotic contingent of the christian right ceasing their patronage of borders.
because they are annoying.
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tyrven [20.01.06::06:14]
Ha! Awesome.

A friend was telling me today about Microsoft will provide health coverage for domestic partners if your both the same sex but if you're heterosexual then you have to be married.

I can understand why it is setup this way, but it's still interesting.
popcultureicon [20.01.06::06:19]
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chris [20.01.06::06:40]
I agree that the probably the smartest thing for a company to do is to just stay out of politics all together, even though on some of these issues they get sort of trapped into taking a position one way or the other, since inaction sometimes dictates a stance in a progressive society.

In any case I'm finding it more and more abbhorant to give my money to companies whose politics I'm aware of and dont like, and vice versa. I sorta feel like in a capitalist society voting with your dollars is the most important thing you *can* do. its good that microsoft is offering domestic partner benefits, but at this day in age I cant say they should be heralded just because they decided to respect all people equally, even if the law sometimes doesn't. the fact is that they are still a big contributor to the republican party (and though its gotten better, I still think they make crappy software).

not being terribly business-savvy, I realize this might all be a bit naive on my part. for example would you pick one supplier over another based on politics even if it cost more? industries like coffee and paper products have picked up that they can get away with this, but usually only by making their politics public enough that it becomes part of their marketing. no one would pay more for shade-grown coffee if they didn't know why the price was higher.
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tyrven [20.01.06::07:21]
I completely agree with everything said here.

Personally, five years ago, I would (and often did) make buying decisions aside from cost and based largely on political/ethical stances. I've become a bit less passionate about my beliefs (and likewise started to understand the complexity of them). Nonetheless, I think that capitalism depends on people voting with their dollar.

Of course, like you said, it's really hard when there are so many issues. It's likely that every company will succeed in some areas while failing in others (relative to individual values). In consideration of that, it's hard to paint a clear correlation between a dollar spent and a specific decision in a business (from the business owner's perspective), unless it's a very vocal and obvious effort such as a boycott or a protest or a flood of letters.
errol_q_spunkle [24.01.06::07:50]
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popcultureicon [20.01.06::06:51]
so... conservitave christians are to migrate to an AMD / linux platform?
i mean...

tell me that isn't gay!

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tyrven [20.01.06::07:23]
Ha! That is what sparked this post. Katie was suggesting that fundy Christians move over to Apple and I laughed because Apple seemed decidedly counter to the interests and views of the Christian Right. I couldn't put my finger on why, however, until now... ;-)
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monoecious [20.01.06::09:35]
don't know if i agree or not. went to hutcherson's church once. very charismatic, and rather offensive man. made fun of deaf people.

...anyway, did you ever get my e-mail just asking you to help me estimate the cost of a project?
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tyrven [20.01.06::09:56]
It's fascinating how people can be both charismaic and offensive at the same time (like Hitler). I saw an interview with him on television the other day and he seemed more excited about the power he was waving than about the political agenda; but then, that's probably what motivated him to pursue his position. Regardless, I find his stance unfortunate. I think it'll be really funny if he's standing on top of the hill waving his flag and the Christian community completely disregards him.

Also, I'm sure a lot of his congregation works for Microsoft (given the size and location). Does boycotting Microsoft include not working there? (e.g., a strike)? It should. That wouldn't go over well at that company.

Anyway, yeah, I think I did get that. I forgot about it. I'll have to look it up. I think, basically, a lot of what she wanted was pretty complicated and would require reasonably heavy custom programming probably. Definitely possible, but probably not worth the budget unless you could find someone in college (say) who was willing to donate time to it for the experience. Alternatively, you may be able to find some hosting provider that provides services like that (sort of like how LiveJournal provides blogging for cheap). I don't know of any specifically, though (I haven't researched it in a couple years). That's just a quick response; I'll have to go back and look at the email to be more specific.
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girlstyle [20.01.06::03:21]
you know, not to be picky or anything, but the homo-haters spelled "professional" wrong.
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tyrven [20.01.06::11:35]
Those images weren't made my homo-haters, they were made by me ;-). I must have picked up a bogus scan of the label; I just added "Designed by gays" (although, on hindsight, I wish I'd said "Designed by faggots" - it has a better ring to it, I think).
joannemerriam [21.01.06::06:42]
tyrven [21.01.06::08:36]