The power of the purse, particularly in a capitalistic society, is mighty, and business boycotts are a potent tool in the hands of the masses to enforce economic and social fairness. Through the use of the ballot and the wallet, we the people have life-or-death power over virtually every aspect of our nation.
Astute business people generally do not make their political views widely known, because they realize that about half of their customers agree with them and half do not. There is no need to unnecessarily create animosity, especially when you are trying to sell products. In the case of Costco, a company highly respected for wise business practices, Jim Sinegal, the co-founder and former CEO, has made no secret of his profound admiration for President Obama and his policies.
For the sake of disclosure, I should reveal that I have been a member of the Costco board of directors for 15 years. There are people on the board of several political persuasions, and we are all friendly and work well together because politics plays no role in business decisions. In the years that I have had the privilege of serving on the board, I have never witnessed a single incident where politics influenced a business decision. Not only would that be unwise, but it would lead to mass resignations and membership cancellations, including yours truly.
Because of Sinegal's public support of Obama, the recent withdrawal of Dinesh D'Souza's book "America: Imagine a World Without Her" from Costco warehouses nationwide, just before the release of the movie by the same title, was widely interpreted as a political move -- the movie is very critical of the president. I spoke to current Costco CEO Craig Jelinek, who was so absorbed in the business of the company that he had been unaware of the movie prior to the resultant backlash. He readily admitted that those responsible for managing the limited book space in Costco warehouses should have been aware of the imminent release of the movie and retained the book in anticipation of a brisk stimulation of book sales, which had been sluggish.
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