It is clear the days of “Republicans wear sneakers” thinking is coming to an end. Does this negate the efficacy of the market? Indeed, free-market capitalism is the greatest system ever devised in this imperfect world. It has lifted more people out of poverty than any other idea emanating from the socialist governments of Europe and the authoritarian regimes of Asia. The fundamental principles of supply, demand, and free enterprise have liberated billions of people from the chains of destitution. But does this unwavering support and perhaps fetishism of free markets require defending every action of the private sector? The socialist left is confused by this fact: Free-market champions can advocate for the marketplace while still being turned off by the actions of corporations and small businesses. There is no contradiction.
Look, the Wokeologists Are Coming!
Silicon Valley is censoring conservatives. MLB is moving the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta because the league failed to read Georgia’s new voting rules. Businesses could start demanding COVID passports. Hollywood produces content mocking Middle America’s values. It is no secret that the pillars of society, from academia to entertainment, detest anything right of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The mini-Maos of the woke mob have forced entrepreneurs and executives to toe the leftist line – perhaps out of fear of falling victim to the toxic cancel culture movement that would cost them profits and publicity.
Corporate America has transformed into an institution that appeases the vocal minority, the radical left, and the media wing of the Democratic Party to place a spotlight on how woke multi-national corporations have become. No longer are companies refraining from participating in political discourse. They are now demanded to engage in the dialogue and inform the public where they stand on a particular issue.
A January 2018 Morning Consult survey found that a majority of adult consumers want brands to take positions on political or social issues. And this is a bipartisan approach to policing the marketplace. Most Democratic and Republican shoppers want to know a firm’s stance on a hot button matter, while about half revealed they care about donations made by businesses.
Does a soda brand’s opinion on abortion matter? What about a paper towel firm’s stance on tax policy? Will consumers stop purchasing disinfectant wipes from a leading maker because it stayed quiet on LGBTQ legislation? Imagine living a life where politics govern every aspect of your existence.
Whether it is the anarcho-capitalists of the libertarian movement or the conservative thinkers of the Chicago School of Economics, should free-market acolytes come to the defense of every business?
Shut Up and Take My Money?
It is mistakenly believed by the left that everyone who endorses the free market needs to champion every decision made by Walmart, Facebook, Pepsi, or the National Basketball Association (NBA). This is a misunderstanding between the support of voluntary transactions and lamenting on businesses caving to the radical fringes of society.
Indeed, two things can be true at the same time. First, individuals can endorse the concept of private companies doing whatever they want as long as they do not violate the non-aggression principle (NAP). Second, those individuals can lambast those same entities for ridiculous policies.
Sure, MLB can relocate its annual national pastime for political reasons, but it can also be called out for an asinine move that will ultimately prevent many minority-owned small businesses in Atlanta, GA, from generating impressive revenues amid the pandemic economy. Yes, Facebook can exploit user data since customers signed up for its free service, but the social media giant can also be slammed for its egregious mechanisms. No doubt, Coca-Cola can ask its employees to be “less white,” but the public can mock the soda juggernaut for its blatant racism. At the same time, a baker should be able to refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding, but it will need to endure the wrath of a perpetually perturbed public. It is a blend of trade-offs, sacrifice, and acceptance.
Do these corporate behemoths offer impeccable products and services? Their bottom lines suggest yes. But their turn to the woke side is a phenomenon that will be met with the mighty digital pen of The Babylon Bee for years to come. As Fox News personality Laura Ingraham is known for saying, “Just shut up and dribble.” In other words, continue doing what you do best and stop pandering to militant progressives by informing the world how woke you are.
The Nuance of Free-Market Economics
Is the free market perfect? It has a great track record of giving people what they want and need. However, businesses, entrepreneurs, and investors make mistakes or confounding decisions that deserve to be called out every day. Free-market advocates can endorse the successful system and still lament companies mandating COVID passports, censoring literature, or sourcing material from Uighur labor camps in China. Contrary to leftist doctrine, life is more nuanced than they might think. It is not as black and white as the progressive orthodoxy’s chief tenet of Orange Man Bad and everyone leftists do not like are Literally Hitler (TM).
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