Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
  -- Daniel Webster

Sunday, July 29, 2012 :::

Consumers have every right to organize a boycott because they disapprove of what a firm’s COO has to say. Such boycotts typically fail, however, because of collective action problems. It’s hard to organize these things; most consumers simply don’t care enough about politics to have it drive their purchasing decisions.
And it's a good thing, too. I'm still following this Chick-fil-A story a bit, which I probably wouldn't if mayors hadn't threatened to interfere with the first amendment rights of the Cathy family which owns the restaurant chain. It is a far worse problem when state actors get involved than when private citizens boycott each other. But I also oppose most private boycotts, including this one. It obviously does not conflict with the law or the constitution, as government action against someone for their views would be. But I would prefer not to live in a country in which we split the country down the middle on some political issue and only patronize those on our own side. Boycotts should be limited to those who, themselves, are outside of the bounds of civil society. Some supporters of same-sex marriage believe that opposition to same-sex marriage is that fundamental, but I don't think opposing same-sex marriage is an unconscionable position to hold, nor, importantly, is it a fringe position. Many of its supporters contend that its opponents do so out of "hate," but most of the hate I've seen has been from its supporters. The overwhelming majority of the country opposed it just a decade or two ago and that is still the position of about half of the country. A couple of months ago, Brad Smith and Jonathan Adler noted that secondary boycotts — boycotts of sponsors of organizations with which one disagrees — corrodes civil society. Their arguments apply more to secondary boycotts than to primary boycotts, but they aren't irrelevant to primary boycotts.

::: posted by Steven at 10:24 PM

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Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

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