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Should companies stay out of politics?

Popularity 2Viewed 736 times 2017-3-18 19:19 |System category:News| government, companies, politics, marriage, business

The big news from Australia today is that our Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has told 20 of Australias top CEOs to stay out of social debates. The 20 CEOs all signed a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that pressures Turnbull to legislate for gay marriage but the governments position is that they went to an election promising a plebiscite and that remains their policy.

It is somewhat rare for the liberal-conservative LNP government to so openly and publicly attack our nations business leaders. For Dutton to make the comments he did indicates not only that the government considers the actions of the 20 CEOs to be unacceptable but also that Dutton and the LNP believe that public opinion favours their policy of a plebiscite over the Australian lefts desire for government to legislate gay marriage without the public getting a say.

We have the odd situation in Australia that the LNP won the last election and one of the first things they did was put forward legislation for a gay marriage plebiscite like they had promised they would but the Labor Party and the Greens blocked the plebiscite claiming that a public vote would cause gay people to become distressed. Instead of a public vote the left side of politics wants gay marriage to be legislated in parliament without allowing the Australian public to have a say. So these top 20 CEOs that signed this letter to the PM to put pressure on him to legislate for gay marriage are aligned with the left on this issue and I can understand why the government would be upset with them.

The fact is that the real reason the left do not want a plebiscite on gay marriage is because they are afraid that they cannot win. The neoliberal corporate media loves to tell us that opinion polls show that the majority of Australians do support gay marriage but few of us actually believe that. The truth is that the Australian public are sick to death of having a liberal agenda jammed down our throats by government and corporations so the potential that the gay marriage plebiscite could be used as a vehicle for the Australian public to protest the liberal agenda is great and that is why the left do not want to risk a public vote on the issue. So in my opinion Peter Dutton and the LNP are correct that they can and will win this fight with the left and these 20 social leftist CEOs.

Here are Peter Duttons scathing comments to the 20 leftist CEOs-

"It is unacceptable that people would use companies and shareholders money of publicly listed companies to throw their weight around," Mr Dutton said on Saturday.

"If Alan Joyce and any other CEO wants to campaign on this or any other issue in their own time and on their own dime, good luck to them," he told Queensland's Liberal National Party state council meeting in Cairns.

"Don't use an iconic brand and the might of a multibillion dollar business on issues best left to the judgement of individuals and elected decision-makers," he said.

"If you want to run for politics, run at the next election and have your say," he said. "We don't want multibillion dollar companies with all their resources weighing into social debates. That's my call."

"The party went to an election with a policy," he said at a press conference on Saturday. "We're not going to deviate from that position. We aren't going to be bullied into action or non-action by CEOs or anyone else."
- SMH

In this age of so-called 'corporate social responsibility' it is rare and perhaps unprecidented for a government to tell companies to stay out of public and social debates but I think that Dutton makes some outstanding points and in my opinion these leftist CEOs would do well to take the advice. It truly is unacceptable for a company/corporation to use shareholders money to engage in public crusades, especially when many of the shareholders may not agree at all with the companies/corporations political and social ideology.

Dutton seemed to single out Qantas CEO Allan Joyce in his blistering attack and I think that this was a great strategy because Allan Joyce is hated by the much of the Australian public due to his outrageous decision to ground the airline to get his way in an industrial dispute that he was having with Qantas workers. Joyce is an openly gay CEO and he is a strong advocate for gay marriage but Dutton is 100% correct in my opinion that Joyce should not be using the money of Qantas shareholders to promote his own personal political crusades and nor should any other CEO.

The argument could be made that companies like Qantas are helping their brand and doing the right thing by shareholders by promoting social causes that the majority of the public agree with but like I said, the opinion polls on support for gay marriage in Australia are just not trustworthy and in all likelihood Qantas CEO Allan Joyce and the rest of the leftist CEOs that signed this letter are taking a position that does not favour public opinion at all and by doing so are doing no favours to their brands or for their shareholders.


- Openly gay CEO Alan Joyce ( left ) with his boyfriend.

Beyond the fact that the actions of these leftist CEOs are certainly at odds with the political views of many of their shareholders, these companies also need to consider the fact that many of their customers do not agree with these leftist corporate social crusades. One of the most successful brands in modern capitalism is the Jordan brand and it is without a doubt that Micheal Jordans decision to avoid taking a political stance on social issues ensured that Jordan was not alienating any consumers. The quote "conservatives buy sneakers too" is often attributed to Jordan and whether he said it or not his political neutrality certainly helped the Jordan brand to have a wider appeal than it would have had if it had been used to promote liberal social crusades. In case companies have not noticed we have conservative governments in USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand etc and the main reason is the a large part of the western public is sick to death of the liberal agenda that corporations seem to think is such a winner.

Corporations must not act as NGOs. I am sick to death of seeing Australian Banks run commercials for things like gender equality or any other type of affirmative action and in my opinion this kind of thing should be illegal. I do not agree with gender pay gap propaganda and I find it utterly outrageous that Australian Banks would use their resources to push these issues in their commercials. I am not a shareholder of the CBA Bank but I am a customer and they are one of the worst offenders as far as these political commercials are concerned and the CBA CEO is also one of these 20 leftists that signed this marriage equality pressure letter that was sent to the PM. I want this kind of thing to end and I think that we do need laws to prevent companies from engaging in politics.

I am no great fan of the USA and in my opinion it is America that is to blame for this problem of companies engaging in politics. We see all the Silicon Valley companies come out against Donald Trumps first Muslim Travel Ban ( they are quiet on the second one though arent they? ) and even though I disagree with Trump travel ban myself I do not want US tech companies using their resources to try to sway public opinion on that or any other matter because it is not their place to do it. A lot of these problems with companies engaging in politics do come from USA but if we look back to the beginning of US history we can find the solution. One thing that the USA Founding Fathers would not tolerate was corporations engaging in politics in any way.

The Founding Fathers considered incorporation to be a privilege and they only allowed corporations to exist if they served the national interest and one of the ways the American Founding Fathers made sure their corporations did not get out of line was to make laws that made it illegal for corporations to make any political or charitable contributions and laws were made to make it illegal for corporations to try to influence law making in any way. In my opinion we need global laws like this to not only protect the public from the political crusades of corporations but also to protect shareholders and to protect these corporations from themselves.

It is this idea of so-called 'corporate social responsibility' that has created this social climate that encourages sections of the public to believe that they can bully companies into supporting their ideologies by threatening social media boycott campaigns. By pandering to mostly leftist liberal sections of western populations since the days of the AAM our western corporations are encouraging the bully tactics of leftist groups and in doing so they have encouraged the bullying and boycotting of entire nations like the BDS movement against Israel for example. The BDS movement that targets Israel would not even exist if corporations did not spend so much time pandering to these leftist crusaders. Not only do we need laws to keep companies out of the politics but we also need laws to make social media boycott campaigns and bullying of companies/nations illegal.

So what do you think? If we had laws to make organized boycotts illegal then would we even need laws to keep corporations out of politics?

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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