How boycotts in the market really work
Ginger Gadoci’s letter (“Boycott bad idea,” May 30) is another example of not understanding how the market works.
I did not read Ronald Ross’ letter. I don’t know what “these businesses” are. That the subject appeared to be gay marriage is irrelevant. She said that “Ross believes hurting a business will coerce a business owner to abandon their own opinion and take his stance.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Say I own a small cafe and put a sign in my window that said, “Whites only.” Sixty years ago, most (white) people wouldn’t have given it a second thought. Today, it would be abhorrent. People would be justifiably mortified and boycott my little bistro. I take the sign down and grudgingly serve anyone who’ll pay. Doesn’t mean I’m any less a racist.
So now I put a sign up that says “No f****ts allowed.” The same concept applies, and I take the sign down. Doesn’t make me any less a homophobe.
I have not been coerced into changing my mind about anything except the way I do business. Should businesses be allowed to put some sort of discriminatory sign in their window? Yes. Does it make good business sense? The answer is obvious.
There is nothing “socialistic” about boycotts, and they are quite ethical. Furthermore, I know of no business owners who wear their prejudices on their sleeves — it’s bad for business.
Here's a change that could mean something
Most Indiana city councils spend their time looking for the keys to a better abatement policy under the lamppost, like the drunk in the old joke, because the light is better there.
Councilmen are willing to entertain all manner of reform as long as it does not require them to move outside their sphere of political influence. That rules out making the one change that would restore investment confidence — namely, taking politics out of the mix.
Do that, though, and writing a clean abatement policy becomes as simple as one, two, three:
1. Award abatements on the dollar value of investments only, not on “jobs created” or “environment improved” or any other factor that can be politically or bureaucratically interpreted.
2. Ensure that awards are for new investment going forward. The abatement must truly pay for itself and not be subsidized by existing business operations. And as old abatements expire, new ones are awarded, optimizing your city’s tax profile.
3. Limit council involvement to the establishment of a flat investment floor above which all businesses, without exception and including professional offices, qualify for the same rate.
Anything more complex, and you limit the pool of investors to those who have retained the right law firm and contributed to the right political campaign.