A cursory look at the state of the economy, the political landscape, and the turmoil that exists in many parts of the world suggests that Thanksgiving dinner in 2008 may be very difficult to swallow. I am not certain that the future is as bleak as Pat Buchanan suggests, however, if things turn really sour next year, I’m hoping that our national distress may serve as a catalyst for a much-deserved reexamination of our business and social priorities.
I, for one, would welcome a thorough assessment of what decades of corporate appeasement of radical activist groups has meant for the American economy. A fair and balanced appraisal of the price we are likely to pay for the current worldwide experiment with corporate socialism—the so-called Corporate Social Responsibility movement—would be nice too.
A recent propaganda piece published by the Environmental News Service (ENS) reminded me once again that many large corporations have become the hand-maidens of anti-capitalist forces that masquerade as environmental and consumer advocacy groups. The ENS release proclaimed that Target Stores had joined “a group of companies including Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Nike, and Apple that are eliminating or reducing PVC in their products and packaging.”
PVC, a.k.a. vinyl, is a plastic used in a wide array of packaging, consumer products, medical devices and construction materials—from baby bibs to the siding found on homes. Environmentalists hate PVC because it is made with chlorine which the Greens consider the devil’s element. As a result, PVC has been under attack since Al Gore was in knickers.
First, the activists linked PVC with dioxin. That didn’t stick so they claimed it wasn’t recyclable. Wrong again, so the activists shifted the attack to additives used to improve PVC’s performance. The environmental nannies charged that additives in PVC toys caused early puberty in girls and reduced testosterone production in boys. Truth be told, the same could be alleged about soy beans. That’s because it’s the dose that makes the poison. If a child is slurping down gallons of soy formula and devouring several PVC toys each day, my guess is that could create both medical and dental problems, but I’m no physician. Nonetheless, when Greenpeace portrayed babies as victims of the mean and evil PVC, politicians in Europe jumped on the appeasement bandwagon and banned the additives, known as phthalates, from certain toys and baby products. Europeans engaging in appeasement? Shocking!
The attacks on PVC produced little damage in the U.S. until major retail operations decided to appease their activist critics by embracing the Corporate Social Responsibility movement. That’s right folks. The same companies that owe their success to capitalism and free enterprise decided to head down the path toward corporate socialism. In doing so, they allowed environmental predators to dictate the terms of their surrender. PVC was high on the list of items deemed socially irresponsible. So, Target Stores, Wal-Mart, Microsoft and their fellow travelers apparently kow-towed to their activist group handlers and announced plans to phase PVC off the shelves. San Francisco and, ultimately, the State of California enacted legislation that parodied their European Union (EU) counterparts—confirming once again that California considers itself a suburb of Paris, or perhaps Vienna.
Have I mentioned that science doesn’t support the draconian measures taken against PVC? Various U.S. government agencies have determined that vinyl products aren’t posing a risk to humans and no one, to my knowledge, has presented evidence that a single baby has been harmed by the material. But science and facts don’t matter in an environment dominated by agenda-driven activist groups and their corporate lapdogs. What matters is whether your product ends up on the “socially irresponsible” list. If that happens, your goose (or turkey) is cooked.
If there is a sober assessment of the Corporate Social Responsibility movement at some point in the future, I hope Target Stores, Wal-Mart, Microsoft and the rest of their ilk are asked whether it is “socially responsible” to jeopardize the jobs of over 100,000 U.S. workers just because the activists decided to put PVC on their hit list? Imagine if that question was posed at the appeasers’ annual shareholders meetings? And just think what Thanksgiving 2008 would be like if those 100,000 PVC workers took advantage of their power as consumers. How cozy would the corporate appeasers be with their activist brethren if 100,000 workers, their families and friends decided to target Target Stores, Wal-Mart and the rest by doing their shopping elsewhere? Just a thought and a hope for Thanksgiving 2008.