The progressive nature of big business

That is my new opinion piece for The Washington Post, derived from my Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero.  Here is one excerpt:

Yet big business often has been a strong progressive force in U.S. history, not only by providing jobs but also by spreading emancipatory practices and norms.

For instance, McDonald’s, General Electric, Procter & Gamble and many of the big tech companies offered health care and other legal benefits for same-sex partners well before the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2015. In addition to dramatically improving the lives of thousands of Americans, the companies’ moves put a mainstream stamp of approval on the notion of same-sex marriage itself.


The larger the business, the more tolerant the institution is likely to be of employee and customer personal preferences. A local baker might refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple for religious reasons, but Sara Lee, which tries to build very broadly based national markets for its products, is keen on selling cakes to everyone. The bigger companies need to protect their broader reputations and recruit large numbers of talented workers, including from minority groups. They can’t survive and grow just by cultivating a few narrow networks as either their workers or customers.

There are further arguments at the link.


'It doesn’t want any group of customers to feel put out or discriminated against or to have cause for complaint, particularly in the social media age.'

Well, that certainly explains Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby's behavior. Or not, as the case may be. As for those companies manufacturing and selling firearms? Yep, as long as the profit is there, they will be too.

'led to successful emancipation movements'

The Civil War was the largest disaster in American history, and was also not a 'movement.'

'it is a ray of normalcy and predictability in its steady focus on producing what can be profitably sold'

Like semi-automatic firearms. Other countries might be rejecting such things, but at least in the U.S., firearm manufacturers can continue to provide more progressive social impulses as they sell their wares to as broad a market as possible. Guns aren't just for guys anymore -

'Progress often starts with business, not government.'

Well, if the article's logic is to believed, it starts with the customers actually, with business just chasing as much profit as possible.

Citizens have the right to keep and bear arms. Serfs do not.

The current insanity in the U.K. regarding “knife crime” shows where this goes.

'Citizens have the right to keep and bear arms.'

Yep, the Australians and New Zealanders are now serfs, having lost the right to keep and bear semi-automatic weapons.

'shows where this goes'

To a rate of firearm death (combined murder, suicide, and accidental) that looks like this?

Firearm-related death rate per 100,000 population
UK (2011) 0.23
US (2017) 12.21

UK murder rate (all comers): 1.2/100,000 per annum
US murder rate (all comers): 5.4/100,000 per annum
US murder rate excluding gun deaths: 1.8/100,000 per annum

The US murder rate without firearms exceeds the entire British murder rate, and does so handily. This leads me to suspect that guns are a symptom rather than a cause of the disparity.

Suicides, again the gun thing makes little sense to me. Japan, Korea, Hungary, and Belgium all have higher rates of suicide (all comers) than the US does. This without the US's burden of gun suicide.

Guns may make these problems worse, but the data highly suggest the root problem lies elsewhere.


You really like to talk about murder rates, even when the source of the information explicitly says 'To a rate of firearm death (combined murder, suicide, and accidental).'

And the accidental/negligent discharge rate of firearm death in the U.S. is over 500 fatalities in a year. A rate of roughly 2 Americans per million, which is an interesting figure when compared with the UK's total homicide rate of 12 per million.

'Guns may make these problems worse, but the data highly suggest the root problem lies elsewhere.'

Except we have had two English speaking countries basically restrict gun ownership, with an appreciable decline in firearm fatalities (in part due to the reduction of gun ownership as part of a changing legal framework, accomplished in major part through buyback programs). Now, we have the opportunity to see what happens in New Zealand, even if the example is more along the lines of Canada's restrictions compared to the UK's. Somehow, one assumes that any empirical data showing an actual effect on firearm fatalities, to the extent they occur, will be equally explainable as America's root problem lying anywhere but in how firearms are handled in the U.S.

Of course I like to talk about murder, suicide seems to be entirely culturally driven. The R value for gun control suggests that gun control causes suicides when you examine all comers. Japan and Korea, after all, have some of the strictest gun control on the planet, yet lead the developed world in suicides.

Further, we saw a greater decrease in gun deaths in the US than the decline in Australia or New Zealand ('93). We have likewise seen drops in suicide and homicide rates with influxes of guns throughout the world.

The truth is the R value connecting suicides or homicide to guns per capita is terrible. If you compare among US states you find essentially no relationship and it gets weaker when you compare more like states (e.g. Maine has significantly higher suicides than Vermont or New Hampshire even though the latter two have the least restrictive gun laws in the country). Similarly for European countries there is no correlation (e.g. Serbia has one of the lower suicide rates in Europe, yet has vastly more firearms than most while Belgium has much more restrictive gun laws and fewer firearms per capita, yet leads European suicide rates).

Pretty much every association is driven entirely by the US being a crazy outlier. This suggests that there is something special about US. Firearms do not get magically more dangerous when they enter the US, so I am going to chalk it up to US culture again.

Maybe it is "frontierism", maybe its racism, maybe its capitalism, maybe it is individualism. What we know is that the US, alone, is driving basically all the statistical correlations.

Finally, do you have any idea how expensive a buyback would be in the US? An Australian style buyback would require the better part of a trillion dollars. How many lives would it save? Estimate range from 0 to maybe a few thousand a year. Let's go 4000 to make the math easy. that's 400,000 lives saved in a century. Ignoring the enforcement costs (because hey, prohibition never has enforcement costs) that recur, that suggest that the US will pay about $1 million per life. Given that most suicides are late middle age or older, sorry the QALYs tend be north of $25K/year.

In other words, dumping 400 billion on gun control is much less effective at saving lives than most other things we could do. Like say pharmaceutical research (which for the poor performing drugs is around $12K/QALY).

At the end of the day, gun violence is tragic, but dead people are dead people. "Solving" things with a buyback and prohibition is vastly less cost effective than other investments in saving lives.

'Firearms do not get magically more dangerous when they enter the US'

Actually, they do. Or at least American gun owners seem to be much less competent than gun owners in countries like Germany or Switzerland or Finland.

And still not a word about the over 500 dead Americans every year through accidents/negligent firearm discharge. Which may be too low, as a further almost 300 deaths are associated with 'undetermined intent.'

'gun violence is tragic, but dead people are dead people'

You really, really want to hammer that 'violence' aspect. Almost as if dead people only matter when their death is due to violence, and not improper handling of firearms.

'"Solving" things with a buyback and prohibition is vastly less cost effective than other investments in saving lives.'

Such as passing laws requiring firearm training along with safe storage of firearms? The death toll from firearms in the U.S. is truly an outlier - just getting the U.S. anywhere near the standard of responsible firearm ownership considered normal in a place like Switzerland would be a good first step, and likely save a couple of hundred lives per year.

And New Zealand will still provide some data - they are not planning on an extensive Australian or UK style buyback program.

If firearms are magically getting more lethal, why would not expect other weapons (like explosives, cars, or knives) to replace them? Why would we expect 3D printing to not result in the same problems? Again, focusing on guns seems unlikely to solve the problem given that so many of these gun deaths are already violating laws.

As far as violent, well maybe there is a non-violent way for a bullet to hit you, but in my line of work "violent" refers to the amount trauma inflicted during the incident. I regular have violent MVCs with no criminal action. I mean suppose if you want to get all nitpicky I could just please accept that I am referring to all the firearm ICD10 codes.

Okay, how much will this "training" cost? How effective is it? What is your enforcement mechanism for people who do not comply with the training? I mean, personally, I would like the military to go to every high school and have basic rifleman training for all students. But that is going to be expensive.

The big thing is that in the US we have bigger fish to fry. We are losing vastly more people to alcohol, obesity, and now opioids. The QALY numbers I have seen floating around for suboxone, community engagement, etc. are orders of magnitude better than guns.

Guns are a difficult problem. For virtually all the homicides and a huge percentage of the suicides we already have legal limitations. Just enforcing the ones we already have is difficult. Adding more is unlikely to be cost effective, and we have so many more causes of death.

After all the old trope is completely true, swimming pools cause more accidental deaths than firearms.

At the end of the day we get gun hysteria because the powerful of the world like a little alcohol, a little drugs, and a little too much tasty food. These are far bigger killers with far less difficult answers ... it just requires the people to make the sacrifice be the wealthy, educated folks who run society.

'If firearms are magically getting more lethal, why would not expect other weapons (like explosives, cars, or knives) to replace them? '

You really, really do not want to talk about fatal firearm accidents. Which result in a death rate per million in the U.S. that is about a sixth of the total UK murder rate.

'Okay, how much will this "training" cost?'

Probably a fraction of the cost an AR-15, which seems to retail for around 500 dollars or so. And such training would only be required by those buying a weapon - no need to attempt to cover everyone at the start. Much like how much automotive safety equipment was mandated - only the buyers of new vehicles were 'burdened' with the cost of air bags.

'How effective is it?'

Well, clearly better than no training at all. Unless you wish to argue that America is also an outlier there, too.

'What is your enforcement mechanism for people who do not comply with the training?'

Well, pretty much the same as checking driver's licenses comes to mind. You know, like a license is checked after an accident. And since you undoubtedly already know that the police visit a hospital on a regular basis checking all sorts of accidents - including gun shot wounds - it would not be a major burden. Except for the unlicensed, who would face penalties, of course. Much like unlicensed drivers already do.

'At the end of the day we get gun hysteria'

Apparently because a lot of Americans prefer Hollywood fantasies of gun ownership compared to the sort of firearm training that the Boy Scouts provided a generation ago.

'We are losing vastly more people to alcohol, obesity, and now opioids.'

Almost as if the U.S. is so messed up that the best answer when looking at a steadily climbing rate of firearm deaths is just thoughts and prayers, since we have bigger fish to fry.

'it just requires the people to make the sacrifice be the wealthy, educated folks who run society.'

Well, maybe in the U.S. In this part of Germany, the firearm owners tend to be the wealthy, educated folks who play a major role in running society. 'A Schützenverein (German for "marksmen's club") is in a local voluntary association found in German-speaking countries revolving around shooting as a sport, often target shooting to Olympic rules or with historic weapons. Although originating as a town militia, a Schützenverein has no military aspects and in many cases often has a more social than sporting purpose.'

So in other words a useless measure that has no statistical basis for believing it will reduce accidental firearms deaths.

The vast majority of accidents stem from children (unaffected as they are not trained), alcohol (unaffected because a cheap training course is not sufficient to change baseline behavior in an inebriated state), and dementia.

I am not sure what you hope to achieve with license penalties. The vast majority of accidental firearms deaths already carry criminal charges through various negligence charges. Is adding a year or two on top of the five or ten already in the offing going to make that big of a difference? Or are we talking about fines? For the majority who, again, already cannot pay their court fees?

I just don't see who this training is going to help. There are over 100 million gun owners in the US. Total firearms deaths are only going to hit 0.03% of gunowners. You are chasing a long tail with a median user approach. This is just not going to be effective.

Which again goes back the Europe thing. The US is in a weird place. It has more guns and more guns per capita. Solutions focusing on guns are going to be more expensive. Solutions focusing on people are going be vastly more cost effective, if less likely to win accolades.

All your fake "facts" are unconvincing. We really need to think about banning guns.

Canada is an interesting control case. We have a LOT of guns in Canada, including handguns. You can buy 'assault rifles', handguns with large magazines, and just everything you can buy in the U.S. And yet, our murder rates and rates of other violent crimes are very low. Canada's murder rate is 1.4 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to the OECD average of 3.6. The US has a murder rate per 100,000 people of 4.9.

If you dive into the numbers, a better correlation for murder rates than gun ownership is the existence of large cities with large populations of poor people. Even within cities, the murder rates are dominated by the smaller inner city regions. This is true in Canada as well, where the downtown cores have markedly higher rates of murder and violence than the outlying suburbs and exurban areas.

Remove Baltimore, Detroit, and a few other dysfunctional cities with large disadvantaged inner city populations and ineffective city management, and the U.S. murder rate will probably look a lot more like the OECD average, despite the fact that it's swimming in guns.

Perhaps it would be more useful to look at the massive dysfunction in a few large cities, rather than guns. Of course, that would involve criticizing a very different political cohort. One the media really hates criticizing. Guns are a much more useful foil if you really don't want to address America's failing large cities.


Many firearm injuries and deaths in California occur in the Latino communities in the rural areas, suburbs, and small cities. Most are gang related. The gangs include the Norteños, Sureños, MS13, and other independent gangs. Through in the machismo culture and a general disregard for the law and you have quite a problem.

Most of these conversations, like this one, conflate the tool of the murder, with the murder itself. Murder rate using a gun is different in these countries. Murder rate BY a gun is a constant 0 across the world. As suicide figure show, if tool A is not available, tool B will be used.

'like this one, conflate the tool of the murder'

Well, they sure seem to end up that way, even when 'To a rate of firearm death (combined murder, suicide, and accidental)' appears first, when comparing the total rate of firearm deaths in the US and the UK.

Google Lexington and Concord. Most Americans don't care how the UK governs itself. Read some history.

The commentor "Sure" is correct - there are much more significant causes of deaths - vehicle accidents, alcohol abuse, diabetes, obesity, and smoking.

We also have significant mental health problems that are major contributors to premature death.

I don't think you really care about deaths or people. You care about your precious little obsession with guns.

The truth is, we live our guns in the US and you aren't going to take them away. Especially you, since you are a pussy. You will hire some poor souls whose best option in life is a job in law enforcement which requires no college education and an IQ of around 90. You will send them to disarm someone at considerable risk you coward.

Then again, law enforcement agencies might not comply because, as the left continually tells us, civil disobedience is good.

Ponder this question: What would conservative civil disobedience look like?

Molon labe.

New Zealanders are serfs. Free men do not go to prison for sharing factual videos of current events.

Who do you think Chik-fil-A is discriminating against exactly? Do you have a single example of a gay person being denied a job or sandwich?

Considering this is the text - 'to feel put out or discriminated against or to have cause for complaint' - two out of three is likely acceptable enough, even if discrimination per se is not occurring.

Maybe, but still. Go find one. The press tried when this was going on and interviewed many gay employees. They were well treated and respected just like the rest of the employees.

I do not think Chick-fil-a has ever broken the law by denying a gay person a job or a sandwich (and I'm sure it would be major news if they did). However, there do seem to be people that have said they feel put out or have cause for complaint against Chick-fil-a, even if you or I may not agree with why they feel put out or complain.

Two out of three is enough for me. Maybe next time, I will just make an ellipsis - and likely end up needing to defend doing that too.

'to feel put out' is listed with ' discriminated against or to have cause for complaint' because it isn't ' discriminated against or to have cause for complaint'. So by this definition there is no 'cause for complaint'.

Unfortunately, these days all it takes to make some people feel 'put out' is be in the presence of people who do not think exactly like them. Even if Chick-Fil-A was warm and welcoming to such people, they'd feel 'put out' simply because Chick-Fil-A exists and has a Christian ownership.

Non-discrimination is not enough any more. Now the activists demand not just that you accommodate them, but that you wholeheartedly agree with their social and political views. Personal disagreement is enough to make them feel 'unsafe' and demand punishment for the transgressors. It's a very totalitarian attitude, and it's permeating the activist left.

Denying people the right to marry who they want is also very totalitarian and it's permeating the virtue signaling right.

False. I am a conservative and have a gay son. I want him to be happy.

He is also a conservative.

He likes guns.

He loves to poke fun of political correctness.

He likes Trump.

On a side note, a local teacher's aid participates in an Instagram "group" with one of my sons and his friends. She is PC to the hilt - single with three cats- and the teens troll her mercilessly. They are much more conservative than you might think. I tell my son not to troll her, she is pitiful, she should spend her time socializing with adults, and hanging out online with teens is both pitiful and ethically questionable. Sadly, she persists and the trolling continues.

The vast majority of teachers at my kids schools are PC women, and the kids, boys and girls both, just laugh at them, especially the clowns that cried in class after the presidential election. The teens treat these women with contempt.

It would be wrong to assume that the US is going to become more PC over time.

Conservatism, the recognition of the value of traditional, but ever evolving, social institutions is thriving.

You folks are just precious

Chick-Fil-A donated millions to anti-gay groups. They've backed off of that since they were called out.

Follow the money. Big business is not a strong progressive force but (recently) a strong progressive follower. Management needed to anticipate changes affecting labor supply and adapt accordingly.
BTW, why does Quaker Oats still own the Aunt Jemima pancake brand?

Exactly. Another dud argument from Tyler.

To appeal to Black consumers.

Progressive != stark raving mad.

Clock the embittered thread hijacker is wrong again, but please do blunt your pick on that stone - eventually you will wear yourself out.

The 2nd amendment is an "unalienable" right and cannot be taken away even by a constitutional amendment.

We don't care about what the UK or Australia, or New Zealand does. We used our guns to tear away from Great Britain. The USA is unlike any other country, do appeals to their norms are uninteresting to us.

The 2nd amendment exists not to protect us from burglars or armed robbers, but from people like you.

Molon labe!

Taleb's essay on the tyranny of the minority seems relevant here. In particular, lately we are witnessing big media companies getting pushed around by the prejudices of angry low level female employees.

Along with the occasional successful law suit - though this is not an example of a low level female employee. 'Fox’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, agreed to pay $20 million to former Fox host Gretchen Carlson to settle her sexual-harassment claims against Ailes, the network founder and former GOP strategist who was ousted in July amid widespread allegations of unsavory behavior. The payment, which was accompanied by a public apology by the company to Carlson, is apparently unprecedented in size for an individual sexual-harassment case.'

Actually, Weinstein's court case does not involve low level females either.

Admittedly, the female victims are angry, regardless of their level.

You may not be aware of it, but there are other big media companies besides Fox. What's that? Didn't you know that CNN, NBC, NPR, NYT, WP and the rest of the "mainstream" legion are companies and not NGOs and nonprofits?

So, you mean that sexual harassment is a problem throughout the entire media industry?

Who would have guessed? Of course, the Fox example was chosen to show that the anger does not merely reflect that of 'low level female employees.' But please, feel free to list all the examples of female employees filing and winning suits against big media companies involving sexual harassment - there are plenty more than the ones you listed, after all.

And it is working.

The "low level" employees know that they have the law at their backs, causing management to cave to their attacks almost instantly, to do anything else would be to risk immediate dismissal.

This has resulted in steady increase in title and compensation of those with any demographic grievance.

The inmates are running the asylum and no one has any idea what to do about it other than try to run out the clock.

This is great work re-framing the book for different audiences to boost sales. Solid A-.

A+ would have been if TC had worked something like "Big business also thinks Trump is an idiot" for the WaPo demographic. Maybe he's saving that gem for his NYT piece or the CNN interview.

"Big business also thinks Trump is an idiot"

Too obvious even for the Post demographic. On the other hand, the home of Brooks and Friedman might think such a trivially banal observation to be worth printing.

President Captain Bolsonaro has oficially cancelled his trip to the United States. I hope Americans are proud of their slanders against an ally and their kowtowing before butcher Xi. There will be diplomatic consequences.

Maybe that's for the better. Internationalist interventionism is overrated anyway. If Russians and Chinese want to pour billions down Latin American ratholes, more power to them.

So that is it. Peace for our time. Nuremberg. Better red than dead. Why die for Danzig?

It's a tough lesson, but all people in public life eventually learn that they can do anything they want, as long as they don't run afoul of progressive heresy laws.

It is sad to see a bunch of meddling yahoos beingballowed to ruin the Brazilian-American alliance, the foundation rock of collective security in the American continent. The gates of chaos are now wide open. As American President Ronald Reagan famously said, "history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening".

Tyler: The larger the business, the more tolerant the institution is likely to be of employee and customer personal preferences. A local baker might refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple for religious reasons, but Sara Lee, which tries to build very broadly based national markets for its products, is keen on selling cakes to everyone.

Maybe, but on the flip side the local "Big Business" chain bar that caters to everyone may be putting the local gay bar out of business. Is this "progressive"? Do gay people actually want this?

Similarly, maybe KFC draws more diverse customers in than that black run and patronized local mom'n'pop fried chicken joint, and so in a sense it's "progressive" for KFC to run them out of town. But is it really "progressive" to have fewer black owned, run and exclusively patronized businesses?

Is it progressive to eliminate all the differentiated chai-wallahs of Delhi and replace them with Starbucks, because Starbucks may cater to a wider set of Indian social groups?

I'll draw out the standard Chomsky quote:

"See, capitalism is not fundamentally racist — it can exploit racism for its purposes, but racism isn’t built into it. Capitalism basically wants people to be interchangable cogs, and differences among them, such as on the basis of race, usually are not functional. I mean, they may be functional for a period, like if you want a super exploited workforce or something, but those situations are kind of anomalous. Over the long term, you can expect capitalism to be anti-racist — just because its anti-human. And race is in fact a human characterstic — there’s no reason why it should be a negative characteristic, but it is a human characteristic. So therefore identifications based on race interfere with the basic ideal that people should be available just as consumers and producers, interchangable cogs who will purchase all the junk that’s produced — that’s their ultimate function, and any other properties they might have are kind of irrelevent, and usually a nuisance.”

Delivered with normal leftist doom-saying aplomb ("anti-human", really?), and there are caveats of course that sometimes companies want us to pursue identity products (differentiated niches to sell to), and probably the word "anti-racist" being used in anything other than a wholly, unreserved positive bit of mood affiliation will scare the horses here, but the central point, shorn of leftist rhetoric, stands. Business smashes and deconstructs communities built around human characteristics when this generates commercial difficulties and this is entirely morally ambiguous.

Is this all "progress"? Is it even desirable if it is? I dunno. I'm skeptical enough of it that I don't see it as a reason *for* big business, even if it's not a good reason to be *against* it.

what is the formal economics definition of Tyler's "a strong progressive force" ?

How would one recognize a progressive force from a non-progressive force in the economic sphere?

Well, supporting worker rights, paid maternity leave for all employees, health insurance for all employees, and not attempting to prevent unionization would all seem to be signposts in recognizing a progressive force.

"The larger the business, the more tolerant the institution"

Facebook, twitter et al. beg to differ.

He should have said: "the more tolerant to the progressive religion."

Supporting the rights of gays to marry is "progressive religion"? How about pro-freedom?

Good attempt at putting words in my mouth. Try again when you have a clue about thereligious zealotry of the progressives.

I attempted to put my large cock in your mouth.

It's disingenuous of you to imply that the recent suspension of radical right-wing garbage accounts by these companies is a rebuttal of the original argument. I'm actually surprised these companies allowed their brands to be damaged for so long by hosting these sociopath conspiracy nuts.

He may be speaking of the ban of centrist or moderate right wing accounts when responding to radical left wing accounts, when the radical left wing accounts are left alone. Or maybe the account that got banned for quoting Mother Theresa.

And, of course, the radically intolerant political monoculture among those companies' employees.

Advertisers will pay them no money if they give a platform to the Farrakhan, Jones, and the looniest of the alt-right. This is strictly a business decision.

So you're saying business considerations made them less tolerant...

Sounds like we at least mostly agree with each other while disagreeing with the post's hypothesis.

It is an interesting argument, but I think it sets up modern progressives in a straw man argument.

The progressive critique of big business is that it had a major hand in the biggest policy failure of the last 40 years, the growth in income inequality. Progressives have welcomed business as allies in the case of human rights and equality, but they would quickly point out that big business loves to throw out low-cost sops like bathroom parity but takes a different stand on issues like cutting Social Security and Medicare to pay for corporate tax cuts.

For instance, McDonald’s, General Electric, Procter & Gamble and many of the big tech companies offered health care and other legal benefits for same-sex partners

It's indicative of the mentality at Mercatus that the moderator blithely offers this as a point in their favor.

Well, we know these bloggers are homo-loving shitlibs, no matter how often we berate them for it. Let them have their fun, our side is in control now!


I would agree with the post if we replaced progressive by leftist, nihilist, or egalitarianist

Big business, like politicians, tend to pander to those most likely to be sectarian and feel offended. Those who need constant attention and care. Big business and politicians tend to pander to leftists, cat lovers, women, and other groups that were unlucky in the genetic lotery.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

As opposed to pandering to religious zealots, "veterans" and "family farmers?"

This is so much nonsense.

Big business has absolutely no problem being discriminatory. After all Google is willing to fire people for holding wrong views. Not a single big business cut ties with Mozilla after Eich was forced out explicitly for his religious views.

Nor do they have a problem discriminating against those who have done no personal offense. When North Carolina or Indiana passed laws that big business leaders disliked they had no qualms, at all, about subjecting all residents of those states (including areas that voted otherwise) to real sanctions. Threatening to curtail engagement with North Carolina is simple discrimination. And lest we believe these corporations have dear values they wish to enforce, let us remember that even as they pulled investment for North Carolina, they continued to dump it into such paragons of virtue as Saudi Arabia and China.

Maybe they just are avoiding controversy, yet major corporations give donations to the likes of Planned Parenthod (e.g. AT&T, The Container Store, Netflix); which is a highly polarized organization with about 40% of the country hating them. Nor is this uncommon, we routinely see big business contribute to places like the ACLU, which again about 40% of Americans dislike or detest (e.g. Lyft just helped out with a multi-million dollar fund raising campaign).

The truth is, no, big business is not some bastion of liberalization and emancipation. It has now, and always, been a parrot of elite prejudices. When the elites were racist, so was big business. When the elites were anti-feminist, so was big business. Now when the elites are anti-traditionalism, so is big business.

They have no problem working with highly repressive regimes like the those in Saudi Arabia, China, Myanmar, or Sudan. They do, however, have problems with anything that smacks of Western traditionalism. When Big Businesses preference so closely match those of the elite colleges, the elite media personalities, and all the other folks who have disproportionate power in society ... methinks they are just another lever for the elite to implement their desired social policies.

I cannot fathom how anyone can look at the willingness of big business to stake positions anathema to 40% of their domestic customer base for no good economic reason and say this is all about building a broad national customer base.

'After all Google is willing to fire people for holding wrong views.'

Any company will fire any employee for holding the 'wrong' views. To put it differently, see what happens to a Coke employee that wears a Pepsi shirt in the office, particularly in an at will employment state.

'about subjecting all residents of those states (including areas that voted otherwise) to real sanctions'

Boycotts - a 1st Amendment freedom, or an unfair sanctioning of people who feel that their actions should not cause anyone else to react?

'Threatening to curtail engagement with North Carolina is simple discrimination.'

And if one 'threatens' to buy a chicken burger at Chik-fil-a instead of McDonalds, is this 'discrimination,' or simply exercising one's right to choose who to buy from?

'we routinely see big business contribute to places like the ACLU, which again about 40% of Americans dislike or detest'

Amazing how many Americans really, really don't seem to like the 1st Amendment, and an organization that reliably defends it, whether for those wishing to boycott, or those neo-Nazis wishing to march in a Jewish neighborhood.

'to stake positions anathema to 40% of their domestic customer base'

Who knew that Chik-fil-a had such a huge customer base? If only they didn't close on Sunday, they would be bigger than McDonalds, wouldn't they?

(Surprised neither you nor Prof. Cowen brought up Disney when having this entertaining version of Kulturkampf, American style.)

I can't really wrap my head around the idea that the same people who demand free markets also demand that companies must keep employees they deem disruptive.

It couldn't possibly be that there is no consistent moral principle, just tribalism ..

"Free market" does not mean "any company can do anything for any reason."

Actually it does. A true free market is:

It's fine that you have come to accept the checks and balances of our system, but that isn't the same thing.

Only a very tiny number of advocates use the word "free market" to mean "night-watchman state." Mostly it's used as a strawman by individuals such as yourself.

What I see more often is that people invoke laissez-faire markets whenever a proposed regulation looks bad to them.

As in "we can't do that, it violates free market principles!"

Damore was fired for expressing a completely valid view in a forum that was designed for such conversation. Had they fired him for no reason, that would be acceptable to those who complain; but those who complain are just using their 1st amendment rights that the left is not so keen on, aren't they?

My contact said I worked by mutual agreement. If either of us changed our minds, the contract ended.

As I say, fairly capitalist.

What are you proposing instead? Some kind of government labor board to enforce fairness?

"What are you proposing instead? Some kind of government labor board to enforce fairness?"

That's how it works in much of the developed world. America is exceptional in the freedom it gives employers.

Consulting was widespread in US tech, until some a-hole sued for unemployment. Naturally after that they legislated most of it out of existence. I could keep going based on personal relationships, but employers or I would occasionally get legal advice not to do it. With just 1 or 2 consultants on staff, the IRS etc never cared. I was honorable of course, and never asked for "unemployment" at an end of contract.

I did not propose any such thing. I referenced my 1st amendment right to call them assholes for doing so.

And Google exercised their right to "at-will" employment by firing James Dumbass. Kicked his sorry white ass to the curb.

So, you think Google was engaging in racism?

'Damore was fired for expressing a completely valid view in a forum that was designed for such conversation.'

And his company disagreed. Result? He was fired. is law suit will go nowhere, so it will be interesting to see how arbitration will work out for him (hint - not well, in all likelihood - big business much prefers arbitration to the courts). 'For Google, as with most companies being sued by employees, the move into arbitration was a victory, Damore’s lawyer Harmeet Dhillon said. “They all would prefer to handle these things secretly and with no right of appeal,” Dhillon said, adding that plaintiffs in a court process also have more rights than in arbitration to obtain information from companies they’re suing.

A Supreme Court ruling in June that essentially changed the law around class-action suits about working conditions led Damore to agree to arbitration, Dhillon said.'

Something that the 1st Amendment has absolutely zero to do with.

When people criticize Google for firing Damore, I don't think the implication is that they should be legally able to do it, but that society should mock and shame them at every opportunity for firing someone who was probably pretty much correct and openly telling the truth.

Preventing free hiring and firing, after all, would also prevent the blacklisting of Colin Kaepernick, and I think everyone agrees that it's fine that this disruptive "son of a bitch" should've been blacklisted and should have no recourse.

There was fair controversy about the controversy:

But again, as an old consultant I'm still of the "by mutual agreement" mindset.

I presume you think employees should be allowed to quit for arbitrary reasons?

'but that society should mock and shame them at every opportunity for firing someone'

Please, go right ahead. However, to say that a company cannot fire someone for whatever legal reasons the company deems adequate is simply silly. At least in the U.S. - and in an at will employment state, the employer needs no reason at all.

'would also prevent the blacklisting of Colin Kaepernick'

Probably not, Particularly when one looks at what happens to whistleblowers in general, regardless of laws intended to protect them from retribution when reporting on criminal actions involving an organization.

'and I think everyone agrees that it's fine that this disruptive "son of a bitch" should've been blacklisted and should have no recourse'

You keep using blacklisted. Of course, if there is a proven conspiracy among NFL owners to prevent him from being hired even if one owner wishes to, then one can say such blacklisting is a problem. If no NFL owner wishes to hire someone that brings bad publicity (such as criticism from a president), that is not blacklisting. It may still be deplorable, of course, but no is forced to hire a particular employee in the U.S.

Remember, prior and anonymous are longtime trolls. They don't really believe that the First Amendment protects corporations from being criticized for their actions by private individuals. They're just staking out these nonsense positions to try to get you sidetracked into arguing against a fake strawman.

Isn't a "troll" the kind of guy who tries to turn a reasonable discussion into ad hominem attack?

'They don't really believe that the First Amendment protects corporations from being criticized for their actions by private individuals.'

That is a complete misrepresentation, though it might be a mistaken formulation.

Of course the 1st Amendment does not protect anyone from criticism from anyone else. Any American is free to criticize anyone or anything they like, for any reason they like. So you are absolutely right, in the sense that I do not believe - and never will - that the First Amendment protects corporations from being criticized for their actions. (Really, even suggesting that the 1st Amendment protects anyone or anything from criticism is just bizarre.)

However, the 1st Amendment has nothing to do with private employment arrangements (it is more complicated in terms of working for the government). Any individual can criticize any company any time they want, for any reason they want. This includes calling for boycotts of a company, for any reason at all.

And companies, particularly in an at will employment state, are welcome to terminate employment at any time they want.

BTW, I worked as a consultant most of my life, and never had to even be fired. My contact could have been declined for renewal any week, for years on end, and I was fine with that.

Fairly capitalist, I think.

Discrimination is exactly what the word means - choosing one thing at the expense of the other. Big business is, and always has been, perfectly willing to discriminate against people unlucky enough to be acceptable targets for discrimination to society's elite.

Big business is well within their rights to donate to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, or whomever. They can fire people who hold positions they do not wish to associate with. They can do many, many things ... this just means that, like everyone else, they discriminate.

But does big business have some core ideology towards liberalization?

No. They are willing to discriminate everyone who earns a living in North Carolina, regardless of those individuals support or opposition to a mostly unenforceable law that might make people uncomfortable. They, however, all go to China and work neatly with the CPC while the CPC is in the middle of running the largest concentration camps in a few decades. That fact that the CPC is de facto if not just flagrantly racist is immaterial. The fact that the CPC actually kills people who oppose their legislation, is also immaterial. Heck, Netflix is willing to work directly with Saudi censors a regime that still executes gay people.

So I look at the actual behavior of big business - willing to grandstand in the US for LGBT rights even when such discrimination hurts people, willing to donate to organizations deeply reviled by a significant minority of its customers, and willing to work with governments overseas that execute LGBT individuals - I see a pattern not of market maximization nor of deep commitment to ideals. I see a pattern of mimicking the preferences of rich, educated liberals.

Those preferences are completely legal, but let's be honest business leaders are drawn from the same narrow pool as all the other highly educated, highly remunerated positions. And this is not a new phenomena. Businesses have long mimicked the prejudices of others with wealth and education.

Ok, that's legit

Maybe Americans should rise up against economical royalists.

'choosing one thing at the expense of the other'

Except there is also a legal definition, for example in not being allowed to choose to rent a hotel room to based on their skin color.

'they discriminate'

No, they choose. Discriminate in this context has a legal definition. But you likely already knew that.

'They are willing to discriminate everyone who earns a living in North Carolina'

No, they are choosing to spend their money somewhere else. One assumes that you do allow companies the right to decide where to spend their money, because the idea that any company needs to spends its money in a rigid formula corresponding to the population of any definable geographical unit is pretty absurd.

'I see a pattern of mimicking the preferences of rich, educated liberals.'

Or maybe the wealthy do whatever they want, unconcerned about what anyone else thinks? And is Buffet or the Kochs or Ellison really representative of liberals? (Possibly, of course - you are free to define liberal however you wish.)

'business leaders are drawn from the same narrow pool as all the other highly educated, highly remunerated positions'

The above examples do not fit that statement, however.

Actually no. The legal term, as written in the US Code, is "prohibited discrimination" (31 USC 6711). Legally, as was made explicit when debating the Civil Rights Act, discrimination itself is legal provided it does not do so for a prohibited reason. The law recognizes that businesses may well discriminate against for reasons that are not prohibited and these are legal. For instance, a business may blanket fire an individual because the boss dislikes hearing the individual talk. Things get dicey when you use a seemingly legal pretext to discriminate on a prohibited basis.

As noted, I believe business should legally have the right discriminate against the populations of US states (I don't think they should actually discriminate, but that is a question of ethics). I am kinda weird this way, normally redlining populations you dislike is frowned upon, but I guess you think it is okay if banks charge higher rates to urban polities or just stop serving them altogether.

Ultimately the pattern I see is the same pretty much across the board, throughout the world. The wealthy dislike being bound by social mores. They actively work to liberate society from any vestige of traditionalism. They treat foreigners as fetish objects and refuse to apply the same standards across the board. They may (though less often) disagree about economic policy or tax rates, but in the main the social opinions of the leading Democrat(ic Socialist) politicians, academics, news personalities, and CEO are not terribly different. It is almost like they went to the same schools and socialized in the same facets of life.

It thus shocks me not at all that Netflix helps KSA censor liberal ideas from reaching their citizens. Nor does it shock me, at all, that Coca Cola invests heavily in states that execute gay people. Nor do I find it surprising that OKCupid, a major hub for tech romance at the time, blocked Mozilla until Mozilla fired a religious minority for daring to follow through on an obligatory belief of his religion. For modern liberals it is fine to hassle Mormons, but not Muslims, even when they hold the same opinions about gay marriage (though the Muslim states will execute people over it).

See, you did know - 'The legal term, as written in the US Code, is "prohibited discrimination" (31 USC 6711).'

'I am kinda weird this way, normally redlining populations you dislike is frowned upon, but I guess you think it is okay if banks charge higher rates to urban polities or just stop serving them altogether.'

I think companies make decisions based on factors that end up with them charging higher rates in urban polities - ever seen how much a Big Mac costs in NYC compared to Springfield, Va? And Walmart is not known for serving places like NYC or SF or Boston, either.

'The wealthy dislike being bound by social mores.'

Only when it applies to themselves. But hypocrisy has never been something only the wealthy practice.

Such a fine fixation on liberals, though this statement applies with as much accuracy with just a bit of changing - 'For modern conservatives it is fine to hassle Muslims, but not Mormons, even when they hold the same opinions about gay marriage (though the fact that Muslim states will execute people over it can seem a minor concern)' That parenthetical may seem a bit harsh, unless one is familiar with things like this -,_2014

Big business discriminates just as much as everyone else. When it was popular to discriminate on religious identity, they did. When it was popular to discriminate on the basis of race, they did. Now it is popular to discriminate on the basis of "political" beliefs, even in cases where those are part and parcel of religious identity, and they do.

Legally discrimination is exactly the same action for what is banned and what is not. Big business has no deep commitment to antidiscrimination, it is just fine discriminating against the popular targets in the US and ignoring rampant discrimination in foreign countries.

It is good to here that you support redlining as a business decision. You fit in most nicely with the 1950s realtors and banks who helped maintain the ghetto.

Your argument is all over the place. It is very simple. Political beliefs is not a protected class like race, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, etc so you can discriminate against these activists all you want. A business is there to make money not pander to your pet beliefs.

"Any company will fire any employee for holding the 'wrong' views. To put it differently, see what happens to a Coke employee that wears a Pepsi shirt in the office, particularly in an at will employment state. "

At every company I've ever worked at, we've been able to make fun of the company's product with no fear of retribution. And have political views different from those of the CEO. So it's possible that capitalism can exist without thought control, though if people start seeing the two as inevitably intertwined, they will start opposing capitalism. And it will be the capitalists' fault.

TIS, The current crisis of faith in capitalism has been brought to you by crony capitalists who deny that they are crony capitalists even as they continue to use government to serve their ends at the expense of the rest of us. Trump is a paradigmatic crony capitalist who's capable of denying he's wearing a blue jacket even as we all see that he is. I pity the fool that thinks Trump is anything but a steaming pile of crony capitalism. I hope you like wading in swamps.

A Coke employee wearing a Pepsi t-shirt must ask herself whether she is extremely important for Coke, or extremely unimportant for Coke. The more rules you a subject to as an employee has an inverse relationship with your importance to a company. But either way, the Coke employee is 100% not allowed to agitate for Coke to be liquidated and for Pepsi to gain a monopoly over black-coloured soda.

Sure, you sound like you are going to have a heart attack because Tyler had an opinion different from yours. That is very totalitarian. If it makes you feel better, Tyler is just trying to plug his new book. No need for the sour grapes.

It is increasingly difficult to believe that Cowen takes his own arguments seriously in his attempt to sell big business to self-styled progressives. I'm curious if anyone is buying.

'difficult to believe that Cowen takes his own arguments seriously'

You would think so, but here we are, still being reliably entertained by this web site.

our theory is Dr. Cowen makes serious points and also believe he takes
ideas seriously as opposed to unserious cable news and stupid shows like "the view" where they expect us to take their unserious over-emoting seriously
also we are buying the book!

Unlikely. There's very little market for this kind of stuff(see the sparsely populated bottom-right corner):

The larger the business, the more likely we are also to see diseconomies of scale and the Ringelmann effect. The disbandonment of Google's Advanced Technology External Advisory Council a month after the appointment of Kay Coles James, a black, XX female, at the insistence of a cabal of white supremecist progressive employees is a case in point. Most of the huge corporate tech giants harbor such cabals with the predictible results of corporate intolerance and non-dividend increasing special bureaucratic overhead cost subunits to pay worship to The Stuff White People Like such as all the social engineering efforts listed in the article.

Big business implies success; it wouldn't be a big business if it were a failure. What Cowen is promoting is success over failure. And he/we should. Big business (i.e., the successful business) is more likely to advance employee benefits such as higher pay and health insurance because it can. Big business (i.e., the successful business) is more likely to weather downturns in the economy. And so on. I'm not one to worship big business or CEOs of big business (which Cowen sometimes seems to do), but I am able to recognize the benefit of big business. Success breeds success; failure breeds failure. As between success and failure, I'll take success. The bigger the better.

Big business more aptly implies failure. When was the last major round on bank consolidation? With the wipe out in 2007. What about airlines? Also 2007.

Nor is this a new phenomena. Steel consolidation in the 19th century happened most aggressively with recessions and falls in steel demand.

Mergers are very often an unhealthy sign. It means companies best shot for profitability it is to reduce competition and unifying decision making. This is less costly, but it is also less flexible.

Even the tech giants are almost entirely built on the failures of others. Google arose and became big not because search was a phenomenally successful industry, but rather because every competing option died. Netflix is big, but only from destroying a plethora of other options.

This is likely good for the consumer and makes some profit, but in general the driving force for M&As is not an abundance of successes, but rather many failures allowing assets to consolidate to reap some amount of monopoly profit.

Prioritizing some things necessarily means de-prioritizing others. In particular, big businesses de-prioritize traditional family and community standards, which might impinge on some of their employees and their profits. Hence Marc Benioff being against North Carolina’s restriction of women’s locker rooms to women.
For hiring, they prefer childless people who will spend more hours at work, leading to over representation of employees who have a diminished vested interest in the long term future of the country, which also leads to increase progressivism on the part of the company since single-childless people are more progressive.

In other words, big business contributes to the birth dearth in a variety of ways. I don’t think the cost is worth it.

a mainstream stamp of approval on the notion of same-sex marriage itself.

There's really nothing "mainstream" about the social stances of big business. And the decisions of the supreme court hardly reflect mainstream positions. There's seldom been any real objection to same-sex cohabitation but its current enthusiasts demand not just tolerance or even acceptance but also legal endorsement, truly government moving into the bedroom.

The great thing about modern liberal democracies is that there are many centers of power, in continual contention, forever optimizing for the best blend.

We have the Beyond Meat IPO as a nice illustration of how that can play out in a fairly strange mix of idealism and capitalist greed.

So sure, some of the time some of big business may agree with you, no matter where you stand on the political spectrum. Other times they might be cheating on auto emissions rules, or trying to welch on the terms of your insurance.

The ustated assumption of the libertardian crusade was that if they made socialism or libertarianism the only two choices we'd "have to" choose the latter. Well, that won't be me.

Exactly, it is time for buildingba third way betwern communist and libertarianism, a way that allows most people succeed. We don't want slavery to commissars or billionaires. We want life, liberty and the purfuit of happineff.

And if the political winds were blowing from a different direction, those large companies would be perfectly happy to provide slave owners with the latest GPS-based tracking device to track their property. Stock companies always go with what is politically expedient, and they never do anything for moral reasons.

Such is life in Trump's America.

Progress: the temporal myth sponsored by modernity that we live already in an irrevocable future.

Big Business by TC's account is thus in the business of myth promotion. TC himself evinces his own talent and taste for mythmaking.

That large corporations have become eager to purvey commercial values in economic, political, and social contexts suggests NO enduring triumph of commercial agitprop or any mastery of modes of mythopoetic discourse--it points instead to a deep and severe pending religious crisis, a global crisis of belief that neither Big Business, Big Media, or Big-headed Academia is paying the least bit of attention to.

How much Big Business still does business in the model of progressivity KSA?

Good point. Many years before Obama or Hillary "evolved", large companies were recognizing same gender partnerships.

Who cares what companies do? If they feel something is to their advantage let them do it. A lot of times it blows up in their face, like ESPN, Dicks, and Nike. Let the idiot CEOs take the fall like they should. (has any prog campaign actually help a company?) I only dislike the mandated changes.

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