Disney Threatens to Stop Doing Business with Georgia over Religious Liberty Bill

I mean, that’s the kind of sensational splash headline for this story, and it has people on both sides of the issue very worked up either for Disney or against Disney. And that’s absolutely all part of how the free market is supposed to work.

Really, we don’t fault business for moving from one state to another because of preference for the other state’s tax policy, or because they are given outright tax breaks, or because they are a Right to Work state, or whatever. The whole idea of Federalism says that’s exactly the way these things are supposed to work.

Now granted, generally speaking the stated justifications are business-related; i.e., that a lower corporate tax rate will increase the company’s profit, that being a Right to Work state will increase productivity, etc. Disney’s decision, if it holds, has nothing to do with the business operations of Disney, or their bottom line. It’s sheer corporate social engineering. And while I might have a beef to raise with Disney if I were a corporate shareholder, I don’t find it troubling as a matter of public policy for Disney to do exactly what they did, for whatever reason (generally speaking) they want to do it.

And I also don’t have a problem with conservatives, if they see fit, responding to Disney’s decision by boycotting Disney products. That, too, is part of how the free markets work, which is that customers are free to band together as part of an organized action to influence corporate behavior by refusing to purchase or consume their products until the corporation in question reforms their behavior in some stated way. I get sick of people calling boycotts a liberal tactic; they aren’t. They’re the free market at work, and that’s a conservative tactic.

I suspect, however, that when the rubber meets the road Disney will not suffer meaningful consequences, market-wise. If you’re a parent and you haven’t been alerted to all the nasty stuff Disney is up to behind the scenes by now, then you’ve not been paying attention. Yet nonetheless they continue to churn out stuff that parents consume en masse year after year. The Disney boycotters are running into the same problem as the failed Chick Fil A boycotters – which is that a company that can successfully generate a product for which there is a unique and persistent demand and meets that demand with quality is basically boycott proof.

I would love to see cultural conservatives reassert some force in the marketplace by forcing a company to think twice before angering conservatives, like they used to have to do. But for better or worse (almost certainly worse) we have abandoned this particular battlefield as an illegitimate waste of time.

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