Saturday, March 3, 2018

Puff Adders

     The more you look, the more you see. -- Robert M. Pirsig

     The Left has capitalized on one of the most unworthy of emotions, which appears to dominate the minds of men who should surely know better: the men who set the policies of large corporations.

     Delta Airlines’ recent experience with left-wing pressures provides an excellent example. After the Parkland, Florida massacre, Leftist agitators decided to revive their persecution of the National Rifle Association. They found that Delta, like many other large companies, attempts to attract customers by offering discounts to members of popular affinity organizations. The NRA was one of those groups. A few Leftists harangued Delta into canceling that discount, threatening a boycott and a campaign of vilification against the airline should it fail to comply.

     Why did Delta fold? We are encouraged to believe that it was because Delta’s corporate management feared the consequences of what the Left had threatened. But was there anything to fear, in actuality? What objective successes have Left-wing boycott / hate campaigns had in punishing their targets?

     I don’t know. I don’t even know how to research the matter. And I’d bet the rent money that those corporate managers don’t know either. Their fear of “losing customers” was sufficient to emasculate them.

     Of course, that assumes that losing customers is what they feared.

     Among commentators on such things, another possibility has been raised: that what corporate CEOs who fold to the Left’s threats really fear is losing the good opinion of persons of “their sort:” i.e., other highly placed persons in business and finance, movers and shakers who direct the affairs of their firms. A case can be made for this. Even in the highest circles of commerce, people still prefer to do business with others they like and respect. Therefore, if a CEO were to lose the good opinion of others with whom he hopes to make large deals, it’s possible that they would “stop taking his calls.” Most major corporations depend on inter-corporate arrangements and deficit finance to keep their companies healthy, which makes this plausible.

     Yet there are few enough really big businesses that those who negotiate purchase and finance agreements among them are unlikely to let their personal biases intrude into such deals. The company whose CEO allows his personal opinions to affect the bottom line in those arrangements is likely to suffer for it. That effect seems more to be feared than the fear that Company A will be harmed by any association with Company B which the Left has targeted. Once again, reliable information about such things, especially as affected by political activism, is hard to get.

     There have been a few visible effects of political activism and corporate faux pas. The best current example is the National Football League, whose managers badly misestimated the effect of allowing its players to denigrate the national anthem. Indeed, the NFL’s loss of viewership and aftermarket revenue has been great enough to endanger it as an enterprise. Contemporary Hollywood provides another example: its leftward swerve correlates strongly with a sharp reduction in movie-going and the retail purchase of movie DVDs, though technological developments have played a part as well.

     Overall, it’s hard to say with confidence that threats of boycotts and adverse publicity are anything for a major company to fear.

     I think it more likely than not that left-wing activism against targeted corporations is an attempt to frighten that’s not backed up by an objective capability to do harm to its target. The evidence for any true capability to inflict harm on the Left’s targets is scant and unconvincing. Yet the Left has garnered a fair amount of obeisance, obsequious compliance, and public forelock-tugging from the companies it’s targeted. There’s information in there.

     It puts me in mind of the puff adder, which hisses at one threateningly before it strikes. The salient fact here is that the puff adder’s hiss is a defensive measure. It’s deployed to frighten a creature the puff adder fears. If the “target” should back away, the hiss has obviated the puff adder’s need to deploy its objective defensive capability: its venom. As a venomous snake regenerates its supply of venom slowly, that helps the puff adder to conserve its weaponry for use against other nearby threats.

     The puff adder’s venom is potent. It can kill a man, though there are antivenins available which, if administered promptly, will neutralize it. In that regard, the puff adder may have more objective ability to harm than does the Left through its boycotts and vilification campaigns. But while the puff adder is a well studied and understood creature, to this point insufficient attention has been given to the Left’s true capacity to inflict commercial harm on organizations it targets. This is a knowledge deficit we should eliminate.


Linda Fox said...

Follow this Tweet thread to learn WHY and HOW the Left is doing this.

I'm working on a post that puts a lot of this information in one place

Pointing&Laughing said...

So far Delta has been more than spanked for this: Losing a $50 meelion tax break from the State of Georgia. Hilariously, it turns out only 13 people used the NRA discount.