Corporate Treason?

A dear friend asked, “Is this the year of corporate treason?” While I have no idea what he was actually referencing in the way of what company has started shooting off it’s mouth now, it’s a very valid point.

Over this election cycle, we’ve seen many corporations speaks out against Donald Trump – many of whom would prosper even more with a Trump presidency because many regulations and business restrictions would be alleviated – including the burdensome and expensive Obamacare measures. With his tax plan, he would reduce their tax liability to 15% from around 40% – extra profit margin in order to hire more people and/or buy new assets for their corporations.

Conversely, Hillary Clinton would raise their tax burden as well as forward a more expensive single-payer plan which would cripple the economy along with taxes for people starting at earnings of $9K a year. Meaning even people whom are working part-time would lose more disposable income than the minutia they have to spend now. For retailers, this is particularly lethal – because when there is no income, there is no spending.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Additionally, who ultimately foots the bill for all the free stuff? While corporations don’t generally pay taxes after deductions, the consumer does – thus, leaving less money to spend on iPads, digital music and high priced caffeinated beverages. This is basic economics 101 stuff – not rocket science. And economics trumps social justice waring every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

For example, I was a weekly customer of Amazon until 2012. I usually bought something from the on-line retailer at lease once a week, sometimes a lot more. As a result of lowered disposable income along with CEO, Jeff Bezo’s ridiculous statements and 20-reporter smear job at his Washington Post, I seldom buy anything from them anymore. I think I’m down to purchasing anything from there to about once every six to eight months. Quite a drop in patronage considering my weekly addiction in the past. Now, I understand I’m only one person but can’t help but think many others are doing the same because the economy isn’t isolated to one person.

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook

With Apple, while I fully supported their decision to challenge the FBI’s request to write a backdoor to iPhones, their CEO, Tim Cook’s vocal resistance to Trump has been staggering. When Trump said he wanted Apple to bring back manufacturing to America, he’s not doing so to demonize the computer corporation, he was stating his desire for all ex-patriot corporations to bring their operations back to the US and is willing to give them big incentives to do so. As a consumer who buys exclusively Apple products, I have to say, I’d much rather buy an American-manufactured Mac than one from Singapore.

As a caffeinated beverage addict, I have long bought from Starbucks even before they were a national chain. However, their CEO, Harold Schultz has also been highly negative against Trump and he’s banned concealed weapons in states where it’s perfectly legal to carry. Furthermore, he has joined the hysterical legislate behavior movement regarding vaping. This, even though there’s absolutely no scientific evidence to substantiate their claims about vaping.  In fact, science has proven otherwise — vaping presents no danger to either the user or the public around the vapor. In a provocatively misinformed move on Schultz’s part, he’s made it so you can’t even vape at an outside table anymore. Ridiculous and nonsensically discriminatory.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

As a result, I no longer go to Starbucks for my venti mocha frappacinos – nor do I buy their ‘bottled’ versions at the grocery. I found local owned coffeehouses to frequent that don’t have anti-vaping policies and spew political propaganda at me when I need to get my frosty caffeinated fix.

Once again, I don’t think I’m alone – in fact, I know many people who act exactly the same way. They stop patronizing places who have demonized Trump. Are these official boycotts? Not exactly but will say their CEOs’ rhetoric and social justice warrior statements influence people in their purchasing process and decision-making process. Whether it’s conscious or subconscious, we all ponder this when buying:  “Do I want to spend my money at a place that demonizes my candidate of choice and dictates my behavior through policies that make no sense or should I save it and purchase from others?” Nine times out of ten, I pick the latter.

A friend of mine in marketing once told me that branding is more than just a logo, it’s an experience consumers get from a business. With so much ill-will going around in Corporate America towards Trump – a candidate people obviously love judging from his rallies – is it good business to open mouth and insert foot?

Therefore, why do people like Schultz, Bezos and Cook discuss their personal politics or incorporate them into their business model while announcing said politics? Did they not learn in Business 101 that to have a successful business – especially in servicing the community on a whole – one should services all customers? Doesn’t this make logical sense? More customers, more bank? Is their rhetoric really worth the financial tradeoff they suffer from customers like me?

What business in it’s right mind would speak out so negatively about a candidate that would make their regulatory and tax burden worlds easier as well as afford consumers more money to purchase their products and services?

corporate_americaIn my opinion, corporations that don’t remain politically neutral are doing themselves a grave disservice. Much like Clinton’s 47% remark about baskets of irredeemable deplorables, they are cutting off their noses to spite their purses in order to make some social justice statement to appear hip. Yet, many with disposable incomes to purchase their goods and wares don’t agree with their political statements; hence, these corporate raiders run the risk of alienating patrons that butter their bread.

I don’t say they should be deprived of their personal politics; however, when serving the public at large, they should keep them mute and certainly not implement them within their corporate practice structures.

I’ve often tweeted that if Corporate America wants government out of their business, perhaps it would be best to keep their CEOs mouths out of politics.

Elections have consequences – a known fact. And while elections are temporary, their fallout is lasting. In a world where money is king, this corporate treason is often economically unforgiven and quite frankly, insidious as it permanent leaves an impression and blemishes their established brands. Most assured, my buying pattern will not revert after the election regardless of whose in the White House!

Special shoutout to John S. Thanks for the inspiration!

 

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