There Are Two Types of Boycotts: The Elite-Supported and the Invisible
Guess which ones usually get results.
August 28, 2009 - 12:00 am
Not coincidentally, boycott fever seems to be sweeping the nation. Two of them, assisted heavily by establishment media coverage, are quite visible. One that is perhaps as effective is largely unrecognized in elite circles. Finally, the most effective one may be a totally unorganized refusal to buy largely lurking behind the scenes.
First, there is the situation with Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFMI). In an August 11 Wall Street Journal op-ed entitled “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare; Eight things we can do to improve health care without adding to the deficit,” company CEO John Mackey enraged single-payer partisans when he argued that:
The last thing our country needs is a massive new health care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction — toward less government control and more individual empowerment.
He then identified eight things that could be done to reduce government involvement and empower individuals, in the process citing several steps his company has taken in the U.S., Canada, and the UK that are in sync with his ideas.
In a company blog post three days later, Mackey noted that he had not included his company’s name in his originally submitted title (“Health Care Reform”), was speaking for himself and not as Whole Foods CEO, and observed that he was responding to “President Obama’s invitation to all Americans to put forward constructive ideas for reforming our health care system.”
By that time, the founder of SinglePayerAction.org had called for a boycott of WFMI. (Aside: if the various health care plans floating around Washington really won’t lead to single-payer, why aren’t these organizations directing their fire at the president and Congress?) On August 20, the official WFMI boycott site “boasted” (you’ll see later why that word is in quotes) of having 23,000 participants.
Since the company’s next set of financials won’t come out until early November, whether the boycott will have any real effect will be unclear for quite a while. That hasn’t stopped establishment media outlets like the New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC News, and even the BBC from generating glowing boycott write-ups. Opportunists at the United Food and Commercial Workers union, where at least ten executives “earn” at least $250,000 a year, are at least partially funding a coalition of “activists, consumers, and labor groups around the country” who don’t like a company that has been named one of the 25 best companies to work for and where Mackey more than earns his annual salary of a whole dollar.
The WFMI boycott seems not to have harmed the company’s stock, which rose from $27.10 on August 17 to $29.52 nine days later, and was very close to its 52-week high at the time this column was finished Wednesday afternoon. NASDAQ.com’s WFMI company headlines section is devoid of any mention of the boycott’s existence, indicating that at least for now the markets don’t care about it.