The 2012 Presidential election: a corporate viewpoint


Lots of stuff has happened since last week’s election – almost more than I can keep track of. But here are two wonderful stories:

The day after Barack Obama won his re-election bid, the chief executive of Murray Energy, Robert E. Murray, gathered his staff and began to read a prayer. He asked God to forgive America for its choice of president, and he prayed for “guidance in this drastic time with the drastic decisions that will be made to have any hope of our survival as an American business enterprise.” He closed with a heartfelt “amen.”

 

Then he fired 156 people.

 

Murray explained that the layoffs were inevitable in light of Obama’s re-election. He’s not the only coal baron to cite the president as the cause of the industry’s supposed death knell. CONSOL Energy Inc. President Nicholas Deluliis blamed Obama for 145 planned layoffs, while Alpha Natural Resources CEO Kevin Crutchfield cited the Obama-created “regulatory environment” as the basis for 1,200 job cuts this fall. (See the full story on Slate.)

Isn’t that nice?

Here’s another story:

Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter, who previously said that President Obama’s health care program would force the company to raise the price of pizza, now says the health care law could cause franchises to slice full-time employees’ hours.

Schnatter, who supported Republican Mitt Romney, made the comments Wednesday night to students at Edison State College in Naples, Fla., where Schnatter has a vacation home.

The Anchorage resident’s initial comment came in August when hetold stock analysts during a conference call that the cost of the Affordable Care Act will lead the company to raise its prices 11 to 14 cents per pizza. (From the Louisville Courier-Journal.)

 

 

Some thoughts:

–      I’m sorry to get all Marxist on you, but I need to remind you that owners will always exploit workers, and owners will always howl when government tries to make them treat workers better. This is why regulation is necessary.

–      Unions are vital to uphold the interests of labor. This ain’t just my philosophy – it’s in my bones. My mother (who grew up in a coal-mining area near Seattle) told me that, when she was a little girl, she used to go down to the mines during strikes and throw lumps of coal at the scabs.

–      Is Schnatter serious? Fourteen cents a pizza? That’s horrendous. Imagine! Just to make sure his employees have health care!

–      The coal industry is horribly corrupt as it is. It’s sweetly evil to see that the coal CEO quoted in the first piece began with a prayer for the salvation of America. I imagine a lot of his employees are praying for something quite different.

Now the good news: a majority of American voters backed Obama. Republicans are losing seats – not enough to make a huge difference, but the tide is turning.

So remember not to buy Papa John’s pizza.

(Not that you would anyway. It tastes like cardboard with pepperoni on top.)


Chick-fil-A: the aftermath


I wrote in July and August about Chick-fil-A and gay marriage. I thought it was a passing trifle. Lo and behold, the story continues to evolve!

 

Let me tell it from the start, in stages:

 

1)  The provocation. Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, talked about the chain’s contributions to various anti-gay-marriage causes, clucking and smirking about his Christian values (“We’re all still on our first marriages,” he said).

2)  The backlash. The Henson company pulled out of a marketing deal with them. Boycotts were called.

3)  The backlash to the backlash. Various conservatives, led by those two intellectual giants Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, declared their solidarity with Chick-fil-A, and invited their fellow True Believers to come eat a chicken sandwich on the first of August. Thousands responded. (It turns out that it’s easier to get people to get involved in politics if there’s food involved. I think we should start letting people vote at McDonalds and Burger King and KFC; participation would go through the roof.)

4)  The backlash to the backlash to the backlash. Gay activists had kiss-a-thons at Chick-fil-A. These were less well attended and not much covered by the media.

5)  The political reaction. A number of northern and western localities, including Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco, declared that they would look very carefully in future at any applications made by Chick-fil-A, questioning whether a business that had self-importantly declared itself intolerant should be allowed to open a franchise in those cities.

6)  Now it’s a freedom-of-speech issue! “They can say and believe anything they want,” one side said. “You can’t forbid them to do business just because you don’t like what they believe.” “Oh yes we can,” the other side said. “They have the right to freedom of belief and freedom of speech, but they have no right to open a store in this or that place. We’ll see about that.”

The whole thing simmered for a while, and was almost forgotten, except that a few people realized that eating a chicken sandwich isn’t quite the same thing as making a political statement.

Then suddenly:

7)  Chick-fil-A redefines its policies: “’The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender,’ Chick-fil-A spokeswoman Tracey Micit said in the statement. ‘Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.’” They also say they are reevaluating the contributions being given to anti-gay-marriage groups. (Why? Because they want to expand their business beyond their traditional Southern base, and they’ve suddenly discovered that it might not be good for business to be known as “the chicken place run by bigots and homophobes.”)

8)  Chick-fil-A’s conservative / Christian supporters suddenly don’t like them so much.

9)  Da capo. Dan Cathy (see #1) says nothing has changed since this summer.

And so forth.

Maybe sometime I’ll tell you all about the guy at Papa John’s Pizza griping about how he has to pay for his employees’ healthcare!


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