Liberal-Minded Businesses Never Learn

Kelloggs probably won’t learn the lesson sitting right in front of them any more than Target did: playing politics and alienating large groups of consumers isn’t wise.  You’d think that when presented with a blueprint of how to wreck sales growth that’s been proven effective, in the worst sense, by several other companies, executives wouldn’t choose to follow that blueprint for their company, but no, liberal virtue signaling trumps good business sense.

#DumpKelloggs pays off, but not for Kelloggs…

Although the company was already planning to downsize, new reports show the damage to Kellogg’s brand is much worse that executives are letting on. In addition to closing 39 distribution centers, the company has shifted from letting go of “several thousand employees” to as many as 11,000 and counting. Reporters for the Philadelphia Inquirer did a little digging and think the job loss is a lot more expansive than the cereal giant wants to admit. “He figures those losing their jobs include at least 1,500 sales reps, plus several support workers and merchandisers for each rep, plus Teamsters truck drivers, loaders, and warehouse support personnel.”

More than a half-million shoppers boycotted the company after its spokesman, Kris Charles, said the conservative Breitbart and its 45 million readers “aren’t aligned with” the cereal giant’s “values as a company.” From there, the #DumpKelloggs movement was born. You’d think more CEOs would connect the dots after the spectacular collapse of Target’s stock when they threw open bathrooms to both genders — or the fierce blowback to radical executives at GrubHub, Pepsi, ESPN, and Penzey’s Spices. It shouldn’t be too difficult for America’s top retailers to realize that declaring war on the values of half of America is not a secret recipe for success. On the contrary, it’s been a revenue-killing disaster for the companies who’ve joined the public rant against the White House and conservatives in general.

The message is simple: stay out of the culture wars or you’ll pay for it. These CEOs should stick to selling products — not politics. If CEOs want to use their profits to push the liberal agenda voters rejected, then they shouldn’t be surprised when consumers reject their products and send their dollars elsewhere.

Paris Climate Agreement: a scam we’re lucky to escape

President Trump just outed the US from the Paris Climate Agreement: cue outraged hysteria.

After days of drama and suspense, President Trump announced Thursday that his administration will exit the Paris climate agreement.

“So we’re getting out,” Trump said. “The Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States.”

Trump’s decision fulfills a campaign promise and satisfies strong Republican opposition to the global climate deal but also isolates the U.S. and is certain to bring condemnation from world leaders and critics in the scientific community.

But even people who think “climate change” is a “real problem” don’t think that the Agreement would have done much of anything to fix the “problem.”  It just would have further crippled the US economy.

Convergence Kills (Businesses)

Barbie doll sales fall by 15% after a ‘curvy’ version is introduced along with others featuring different skin tones

She was given a more ‘curvy’ figure for the first time in an effort to make her more realistic to young girls.

But it seems Barbie’s image overhaul has failed to prove a hit – with sales tumbling by 15 per cent.

Despite an initial rise when the change was introduced last year, US makers Mattel said revenues dipped in the first three months of the year to £574million.

The toy giant brought in a more diverse range to counter criticism that the doll set an unrealistic body image for girls.

Those horrible awful people who are racist and fat-shaming monsters aren’t buying toys!  Don’t they see this is Current Year?  They need to get with the program.  Well, we don’t need their money anyhow.

That does seem to be, however, what some companies are saying.  We don’t need their money.  Don’t want to get those bigot cooties on you y’know.  This attitude is showing up in online advertising.

Now Barbie’s sales have been in a slump for years.  But taking the SJW pandering path clearly hasn’t helped.  Other companies are way ahead of them (all of the publishing industry for example) and they haven’t shown massive profits either.  The advertising companies who are now getting the vapors at the idea that a bigot somewhere, somehow is looking at their advertisements are going to strangle small, online content creators, but in doing so, they’ll be strangling themselves.

Compassion Cannot be Globalized

I am weary of attempts to guilt-trip me into caring about people on the other side of the world or about every single living human being on the planet.  This morning I read this:

“Do we have Jesus’ priorities?  Are we living Gospel values?…Our collective lust for money and things has blinded us to the real and legitimate needs of so many people.  Some of these people live just a few blocks from us.  Others live on the other side of the world.  All are children of God, and that makes them our brothers and sisters.  The problem is we value some people more than other people.  Jesus doesn’t do that.  If a hundred people died in a natural disaster in our city, this would capture our attention for days, weeks, months, or even years.  If a thousand people died on the other side of the world, we might barely think of it again after watching the story on the news.  Why do we value American lives more than African lives?”

Of course there is nothing wrong in directing us to the Gospel as guide for how to live a good life and reminding us to not be so selfish or materialistic.  But this author errs in pushing us to care for people on the other side of the planet just as much as our neighbors.  In an abstract way this is possible, to acknowledge that yes, we are all children of God and deserve respect and love, that the world’s people are my brothers and sisters in Christ (whether they know God or not).  But to actively feel for everyone?  Or to do some sort of work that will impact the lives of all the suffering or downtrodden people in the world?  Impossible.

Human beings cannot handle a scope like that.  I am not Jesus; neither are you.  Only God can hold the world in His hands.  We are incapable of even fully grasping it in our minds. The push towards globalization hasn’t just been about economics; it’s been about Compassion as well.  As one mere human, I cannot feel for the world.  To attempt to do so, is crushing, depressing, overwhelming, and inevitably completely unproductive — worse, it might even negatively affect how I treat my actual neighbors.  To do something actively, practically to help the whole world is physically impossible. Most work that compassionate people do, whether in their writing or speech, is really just virtue signaling to make them feel good, to feel like helpful, caring people but has zero results in the lives of others. There is a better way to improve the lives of others.

According to innovative farmer and author Joel Salatin,”Most of us spend a lot of time and money dealing with and worrying about things that we can’t do anything about anyway.  If we would devote that same energy to our little realm of influence, the cumulative effect would be a much better society.”  He notes that one of his favorite writers, Wendell Berry, agrees that “there are no global problems; only local ones:”

one cannot live in the world; that is, one cannot become, in the easy, generalizing sense with which the phrase is commonly used, a “world citizen.” There can be no such think as a “global village.” No matter how much one may love the world as a whole, one can live fully in it only by living responsibly in some small part of it. Where we live and who we live there with define the terms of our relationship to the world and to humanity. We thus come again to the paradox that one can become whole only by the responsible acceptance of one’s partiality. (Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays)

In a speech Berry gave particularly focusing on environmental issues (about which we are also often guilt-tripped), he again points to local solutions to so-called global problems:

“All public movements of thought quickly produce a language that works as a code, useless to the extent that it is abstract…  The same is true of the environment movement. The favorite adjective of this movement now seems to be planetary. This word is used, properly enough, to refer to the interdependence of places, and to the recognition, which is desirable and growing, that no place on the earth can be completely healthy until all places are. But the word planetary also refers to an abstract anxiety or an abstract passion that is desperate and useless exactly to the extent that it is abstract. How, after all, can anybody – any particular body – do anything to heal a planet? Nobody can do anything to heal a planet. The suggestion that anybody could do so is preposterous…  The problems, if we describe them accurately, are all private and small. Or they are so initially.

The problems are our lives.  In the “developed” countries, at least, the large problems occur because all of us are living either partly wrong or almost entirely wrong… The economies of our communities and households are wrong.

The answers to the human problems of ecology are to be found in economy. And the answers to the problems of economy are to be found in culture and in character. To fail to see this is to go on dividing the world falsely between guilty producers and innocent consumers…

Understand that no amount of education can overcome the innate limits of human intelligence and responsibility. We are not smart enough or conscious enough or alert enough to work responsibly on a gigantic scale. In making things always bigger and more centralized, we make them both more vulnerable in themselves and more dangerous to everything else.

Learn, therefore, to prefer small-scale elegance and generosity to large-scale greed, crudity, and glamour.

Make a home.

Help to make a community.

Be loyal to what you have made.

Put the interest of the community first.

Love you neighbors – not the neighbors you pick out, but the ones you have.

Love this miraculous world that we did not make, that is a gift to us.

As far as you are able make your lives dependent upon your local place, neighborhood, and household – which thrive by care and generosity – and independent of the industrial economy, which thrives by damage.  (Berry, commencement address)

During her lifetime, Mother Teresa, now St. Teresa of Calcutta, said many profound things. When she was asked how to influence the world, she replied, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”  Her answer wasn’t: drop everything and come work with me in the slums of India.  Some people may have that calling, but most do not. She also said, “I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?”

Christian authors would better serve God’s people by encouraging readers to seek God’s will, to ask “how is God calling ME to serve His people?”  It is discouraging and unhelpful to tell people they should care for the whole world, just like Jesus did — though as a flesh and blood man on Earth, he actually did not.

Why Utopia Fails

The battle of the day is about government/leftist attempts to control speech (and just about everything else), but this is a symptom of their core mission to create (force-ably if necessary) the “perfect” society of their dreams — where everyone obeys their wishes.  This desire to create their vision of “heaven on earth” comes with a hefty price.  Even a cursory look at history paints a somber picture of experiments in utopianism; they tend to fail, lead to great human suffering and frequently high death tolls (of which people today are often ignorant).  There’s a reason that depictions of these attempts in fiction, whether text or film, also end badly.  Storytellers understand something about human nature that liberals cannot allow themselves to recognize: Eden was lost by the sin of our first parents and there’s no going back; human nature and our world are fallen, broken, incapable of perfection until the end of time.  You cannot will Earth back to the state of an Eden.

The term Utopia, from the title of St. Thomas More’s influential book, has a bit of a double meaning even from its inception:

Derived from the Greek, that title means “no place”, but it hints at an alternative meaning: when the book was first published in 1516, it included a short poem claiming that the better world More described really was “Eutopie”, a “happy place”. It’s a paradox and a pun, playing on the British inability to distinguish between the pronunciation of the two terms, and it suggests that something’s not quite right. (The word “dystopia” seems to be a much later invention.) Is this paradise, whichever name you give it, unobtainable? That’s assuming the place really is meant to be a paradise in the first place.

[The] description of Utopia has meant different things to different readers. In the 19th century, it could be drawn on as a prototype for Communism. A historian interested in the Tudor period could draw satirical lines between Utopia and the disorderly London that More knew all too well in his capacity as one of the city’s undersheriffs (he once had to face down a rioting mob). A good Roman Catholic familiar with him primarily as Saint Thomas More (he was canonized in 1935) could point out how divorce, married priests and euthanasia might not fit that easily with their beliefs.

All of these approaches ought to make us question what we think is going on in the book, just as More’s contemporaries and fellow humanists were invited to do… there is also a fine tradition of Utopias going terribly wrong when people tried to put their ideals into practice… acting on a dream can sometimes land you in a nightmare.

Utopia, And Why It’s A Bad Idea:

Everyone who knows their political philosophy, knows that the main difference between conservatism and communism lies in utopianism – communism supports it, conservatism rejects it. The striving for utopia is old. No-one knows when it started, but the idea of the “perfect society on earth” has always had a strange appeal on humans. However, conservatives, being realists, reject utopianism: We don’t think we can great the perfect society. As a matter of fact, conservatives have always found utopianism – the idea that humans can turn the world into paradise – to be harmful…

Those who believe utopia to be possible are willing to do anything to achieve it.  Let that sink in. Doesn’t it kind of make sense? If it is possible to create a perfect world, then we should do whatever it takes to achieve it. It’s basic economics really: The bigger the reward, the more work you’ll be able to put in to earn that reward. You may be willing to work 1 hour for say $25, but if someone wants you to work 4 hours, you want $100. Now, what if the reward is infinite? What if someone offered you an INFINITE amount of money? How many hours would you be willing to work, and what would you (not) be willing to do, to get that? The entire cost-benefit analysis gets screwed up, as the benefit is so big it can’t be measured – it’s infinite. And that, dear readers, is what communism offers – or claims to offer. If you believe in the promises of communism, then you’ll be willing to sacrifice anything to reach the “worker’s paradise” that is promised. Anything.

And that is why communism leads to totalitarianism.  Think about it: Wouldn’t it be OK to restrict freedom of speech a little, if it led to paradise? Sure it would – I mean, you get paradise in return, of course it’s worth it. And wouldn’t it be OK to do away with a few dissenters, who might otherwise threaten the coming paradise society? Sure, can’t let them stand in the way. Oh, and what if you had to do away with a little bit of material wealth, just temporarily for a while, just so we can be happily ever after? No problem.

The focus on paradise allows the government to infringe on basic democratic rights – “just give up your rights and paradise will be just around the corner”.

Now suppose someone said “Give up your right to vote and the economy will grow 2 % faster”, or “Give up your right to vote and unemployment will be cut in half” – you probably wouldn’t agree to it. Why? Because now suddenly, the benefit isn’t infinite anymore – it’s measurable. Once goals become measurable, people become less willing to give up essential freedoms, and they begin to ponder other ways of reaching these measurable goals (maybe we could just cut down on regulation to reduce unemployment?). However, with immeasurable, infinite benefits, that isn’t nearly as easy. Utopianism is blinding. It makes us ignore our rights and instincts. Anything can be done in the name of paradise. Those on the far-left like to claim that the fact that every communist country that’s ever existed has been a dictatorship, is just a coincidence. Or that it’s a result of external factors. Or that those weren’t “real” communist countries. And, even among more moderate leftists, you will hear things like “communism was a good idea, applied badly”, or “the concept is good, the leaders were evil”. That to me shows that they just don’t get it – communism is not a good idea, because it assumes that every negative human trait (you know, those traits that makes paradise on earth an impossibility) was caused by capitalism and can be removed. It assumes that humans really have a perfect “core” that has been corrupted by a bad economic system. Therefore, all we need is a state that can remove these traits, and we will get a perfect world – a utopia. Now if this means re-education camps, sending dissidents to Siberia and just in general oppressing free thought – so be it. This flawed assumption – that humans are good – is what makes communism flawed. The totalitarian governments and genocides are just natural consequences.

Pandering to the Alphabet Soup Gang Doesn’t Pay

Target is learning this the hard way —  nix that; they actually aren’t learning anything. But it’s obvious to the rest of us that putting transgenders over consumers might not be the wisest business move.  I don’t think even the whole LGBTetc. folks can buy enough crap to keep Target going if everyone else drops them.  Besides, Target is just a slightly nicer Walmart with much higher prices.  Who needs ’em?  Target Shares Drop 25 Points:

Just when you thought the news for Target couldn’t get any worse, it did. Turns out, families aren’t the only ones dumping the retailer — so are shareholders. In a report that’s “rattling Wall Street,” Target’s worst fears for the fourth quarter came true, with a stunning 43 percent decline in earnings. For the LGBT ally, the bleak outlook won’t improve any time soon. Already, executives are warning of an “awful 2017,” thanks to the unpopular decision to turn fitting rooms and restrooms into a predator’s paradise.

Now that the stores are gender-free, they’re also becoming profit-free! When the numbers hit the wire, the Minneapolis-based company watched stocks take another tumble, dropping 13 percent before today’s opening bell. CEO Brian Cornell, who saw shares freefall from more than $84 to $59 in a matter of months, has tried everything to revive sales — except the most obvious: nixing its unsafe bathroom and changing room policy. As usual, Cornell tried to deflect attention from the boycott and claimed, “Our fourth quarter results reflect the impact of rapidly-changing consumer behavior, which drove very strong digital growth but unexpected softness in our stores.”

That’s interesting, since this “rapidly-changing consumer behavior” hasn’t affected Wal-Mart at all. In fact, sales at the retailer’s biggest competitor are climbing — and fast. Although Target’s team may be in denial about the boycott’s impact (at least publicly), investors agree “it’s at least part of the reason Target’s top line has been dwindling for most of the past few quarters.” And based on the latest polling, it’s no wonder. Americans by a two-to-one margin oppose extremism like Target’s. They overwhelmingly support common-sense bathroom, shower, and locker room policies that put safety and privacy first. Still, groups like the NCAA and NBA continue to thumb their nose at consumers and chase agendas that show just how far outside the mainstream they are. And what has it gotten them? A decline in respect — and more importantly, revenue.

A Good Definition of Distributism

Cows and Computers by Kevin O’Brien

Kevin gives a clear idea of what distributism is in this post.

He says that the people in his Chesterton group came up with this:

  1. Instead of criticizing Capitalism as Capitalism, we agreed that its current form in the U.S., which my friend Tom Richard calls Corporatism, is dreadfully broken.
  2. Corporatism’s political arm, the One Party System disguised as the Two Party System, is likewise a disaster.

It is a good idea to avoid comparing Distributism to Capitalism, because Distributism is really a kind of small scale capitalism. As Chesterton said, “The problem with capitalism is not too many capitalists, but not enough capitalists.”