Good People Bankroll Bad Practices
Now that the whole Chik-Fil-A boycott seems to have died down, let's look at the larger issue. When it comes to not bankrolling organizations with negative views about gay Americans, the Chik-Fil-A boycott was a no brainer—but really, how much of a sacrifice is it to stop eating cheap chicken sandwiches?
It doesn’t mean anything to boycott Chik-Fil-A unless you step back to evaluate what other companies’ offensive political affiliations you’ve bankrolled. Your conscience and your country won’t be any better off if you replace one fast food sandwich with another. I hope you boycott Chik-Fil-A, but I hope you boycott other businesses, too.
Like it or not, capitalism is a powerful form of democracy. Every dollar you spend is a vote in favor of one thing and against many others. So let’s take this opportunity to evaluate how we spend our money, and how it means we vote. Open your most recent bank statement and perform a Conscience Audit.
Where did you spend your money? What did your dollars vote for?
Did you spend money at stores or fast food chains that provide no benefits or sick leave to employees? Did you buy gasoline despite the vast environmental devastation it causes? Did you buy clothes manufactured in sweatshops? Did you eat factory-farmed meat? Did you buy from companies who donate to political candidates you oppose?
If you boycotted Chik-Fil-A, did you buy from other companies whose founders and policies have strong anti-gay views? To use Chik-Fil-A President Dan Cathy’s terminology, I am “guilty as charged.” So in addition to my (almost irrelevant) boycott of Chik-Fil-A, I’m making another resolution: I’m going to do more research before I make purchases, because I want to know how my dollars vote.
Here’s the tricky part: you have to look at the big picture. Let’s use Target as an example. (I don’t know about you, but I can’t seem to escape a Target without spending nearly $100.)
Target extends benefits to same-sex domestic partners. The Minneapolis-based company has a significant presence at our annual Pride Festival, as well as supporting a number of arts organizations in the Twin Cities, all of which I admire.
On the other hand, I’m dubious about Target’s political contributions, and downright infuriated by its anti-union practices and race to the bottom on wages and benefits for store workers.
What should I do? Which one of these causes is most important to me? I may have to compromise on convenience and price, but I won’t compromise my beliefs.