Boycotts and Franchises

People have asked me if I plan to boycott Papa John’s Pizza and/or Applebees, because John Schnatter and Zane Tankel, CEOs of Papa John’s Pizza and the New York franchisee of Applebee’s, respectively, have rumbled about cutting hours and wages of employees in order get around coming health care requirements.

Well, as it happens, it’s been years since I’ve eaten at either. The closest Papa John’s is eleven miles away and there’s a local-owned place that makes pizza, and, you know, I try to support local-owned business and such, and Papa John’s doesn’t deliver out to me anyway. Likewise, when the Scalzi family has a hankering for comfort food from affordably-priced casual dining restaurant chains, Applebee’s isn’t usually where we go for that. So I suppose I could boycott them both, but as with Chik-fil-A, as a practical matter, boycotting them would be me just not going to them with intent. I don’t know how much of a difference that will make.

However, I think it’s worth looking closely at the details of the Schnatter and Tankel statements, and at the corporate structure of the restaurants in question. Both chains run on the franchise basis, which means that the franchisees are largely responsible for the operations of the stores and the staffing choices. When Schnatter was talking, he was saying how he could see how franchisees would cut employee hours, not (as far as I could see) that he was ordering them to do it. If I found myself in Greenville, at the Papa John’s there, I suppose I would want to know what the franchisee there (which I believe is PJ Ohio, LLC) plans to do with its employees.

Likewise, when Tankel was talking about his plans, his plans affect only those Applebee’s that he’s got the franchise for, not any other. For example, my local Applebee’s is franchised by these guys, who as an example of their own business philosophy have on their Web site a page discussing their commitment to “inclusion and diversity.” It wouldn’t be accurate or fair to boycott my local Applebee’s because of something a different franchisee not operating my local restaurant does; likewise, boycotting the entire national chain because New York’s franchisee is a dick doesn’t seem the right thing to do either.

On the flip-side of things, during the Chik-fil-A blowup earlier this year over same-sex marriage, a New Hampshire franchisee of the company co-sponsored an LGBT pride event. The question there, I suppose, is whether the on-the-ground support for LGBT causes in New Hampshire obviates the anti-equality statements of the company’s CEO. For some people, the answer will be yes. For others, not so much.

The shorter version of this is that the very nature of franchised businesses can make it difficult to figure out whether or not the corporate values of the restaurant or store on the ground near you are something you can support. And simply as a practical matter there’s also the question of how much research one can reasonably be expected to do in order to discover whether, say, the local McDonald’s or Taco Bell franchisee is a company whose politics and policies are in line with one’s own. This isn’t to say it can’t be done, or shouldn’t be done if one feels strongly on a matter. Just that — surprise– things are often not as simple as a call for action on Twitter or Facebook can make it seem.

This may especially be the case when one lives in an area whose general politics are manifestly not one’s own. I mean, look: I live in a county that just went 70% for Romney, surrounded on all sides by counties who went for Romney by similar margins. Franchise or locally owned, if I shopped only at the places where I knew the owners or companies held my personal political values right down the line, I’d be commuting an hour each time I shopped or wanted a burger. After a certain point you have to decide where your line is. There are places that don’t get my business, or will ever get it, because I find their corporate beliefs or practices problematic. But I’m not going to stop going to the local ice cream shop because the owners put a Romney sign in their window.

133 Comments on “Boycotts and Franchises”

  1. Our Papa John’s is locally owned and has been very generous in charitable giving. I don’t like Papa John’s pizza but I do support the local franchise however I can. The local Applebees is owned by a firm out of Cleveland (and it looks like they own every Applebees in the northeast).

  2. I do agree that franchise operations ensure the question is not “cut and dried”… on the other hand, I also recognize that it’s the boat those same franchise owners have chosen to sit in when things like Winshape donations come up and the tar brushes come out.

    On the other hand, I’ve been working at moving more towards what I call “non chain eating”, seeking out local names for when I do eat out, particularly with friends. After all, I can eat chain food any day of the week, regardless of where I am in my city. And a restaurant owner making the decision to go it alone, rather than “shack up” with a name with recognition, earns a certain amount of credit from me right off the bat. And if the service and food is good, I’ll be back on top of it.

    Regarding boycotting businesses for merely putting an “X for President” sign in their window… given the nature of our current politics, where it’s basically just two parties, that isn’t terrifically realistic, as many people choose one of the two for the simple fact of trying to make their vote count, or because they literally can’t see who the independents are from the sheer lack of visibility. Now, changing their business practices for the worse because their pet candidate didn’t win, that’s another story.

  3. I’m a Libertarian. If I shopped only at places where I knew the owners voted the same way I do, I would starve. If Romney supporters and Obama supporters held mutual boycotts against each other, that would do more damage to the economy than any legislation that Romney would have signed (or that Obama plans on signing.)

    Boycotts should be reserved for the worst offenders. Get a bunch of people on board, make you demands known, and state the conditions under which the boycott will continue or end. A perpetual boycott is doomed to failure because your adversary has no incentive to change. An attempt to drive your opponent completely out of business might attract sympathy business, and even a government bailout.

  4. Like any weapon boycotts should be used with care. I live near San Diego. Doug Manchester a local Resort developer became the target of the LGBT crowd by donating to pro prop 8. Californias hate legislation. Boycotts followed natually.
    Interestingly he now owns the Union Tribune and the North County Times. I’m a long time UT subscriber and sometimes visit the NCT’s website. I live in north county. I can’t decide if the editorial views have shifted or if it is just my imagination influenced by my knowledge of the owner. Bob Filner a local canidate thought so.

  5. Simple logic would tell you that businesses exist to make money, putting additional requirements on business would cost money and more cost equals less profit. Businesses, therefore, will do what they can to offset cost in order to keep their profit at the same levels. All of this was brought up from the first talk of healthcare reform, it’s nothing new. Every pro-Obamacare citizen cheered when it was signed into law in 2010 and cheered even louder when Obama was re-elected. Now that businesses are coming up with plans to meet the letter of the law, these same people are calling for boycotts. Come to your senses people; you wanted the health care reform acts, don’t try punishing the businesses for following the guidelines your president put in place.

  6. Yup. This is the natural result of writing the law the way it was written. You can hardly blame a business for reading the law and saying, “Let’s figure out the way we can follow the law that costs us the least money.” If they wanted different results, they should have written a different law.

    Is this, perhaps, a case of finding out what is in the bill after it passes?

  7. Be careful @Kevin Riley- you’re bringing logic into a Whatever politics thread. It rarely plays well here.

  8. I sometimes get the unsettling feeling that if we discovered a restaurant franchise was running its grills on the tears of abused orphans locked in the basements, people would should up to defend this practice based on it being cost-efficient, and the natural result of all those oppressive regulations controlling the proper disposal of fuel sources.

  9. I have a perfect example right down the street from me, in a (very, very good) milk/ice cream chain whose owner’s politics I find odious. However, he and his family seem to run the company in a responsible and worker-friendly matter, overall. There is the matter that he was just elected to the state senate here (though not for my overwhelmingly liberal area), but he’s in the party that holds little political power in my state so it minimizes the damage he can do. So, will I avoid his store? In this case, no.

  10. Well said Kevin Riley. Sadly, the President himself made vengeance a theme in his reelection, as did his top adviser Valerie Jarrett who said, “After we win this election, it’s our turn. Payback time.”

    So I’m not surprised to see calls for boycotts. Papa John’s CEO knew what he was risking when he came out with his comments before the election. He was only stating a fact that everyone in business already knew but was afraid to say for precisely this reason. But good luck to those who are planning on boycotting all the businesses that are forced to lay off employees or cut their hours to pay for Obamacare. It’s going to be a long list.

  11. Unless I’m stuck in an airport or stranded on some other desert island of limited dining options, I pretty much always choose local eateries over chains and franchises – the food is better, and it helps support the local economy. That this often means I get to know the owners and am able to put my money where my mouth is, politically speaking, is a bonus.

  12. Billy, I’ll believe that Valerie Jarrett quote when it appears in places other than an anonymous source called “White House Insider” making things up from inside the Obama campaign,

  13. @Kevin Riley – you seem to be operating on the assumption that all law, and specific ACA is perfect in every way, an that they wish to prosecute the franchise as if it was doing something illegal.They’re well aware the law affords this behavior- they just find it offensive enough that they would rather buy somewhere else until it changes

  14. Come to your senses people; you wanted the health care reform acts, don’t try punishing the businesses for following the guidelines your president put in place.

    Boycotting is adding an economic incentive from the consumer side. If a business makes a decision because it believes that decision will save $X in costs, but a consumer boycott resulting from that decision will cost it $Y in profits, the business will need to decide whether the balance between X and Y makes the decision worthwhile. In the absence of a boycott the need for decision would not exist.

    It never fails to amaze me how often people who pretend to be dispassionate economics know-it-alls throw tantrums at the mention of a boycott. That’s not fair and it’s mean and that’s a cheatyface way of being a consumer, you’re only allowed to make purchasing decisions based on price! Sorry to interrupt the ha-ha-Obama-supporters thing, but boycotts are a perfectly legitimate economic tool. Whether particular boycotts are ill-advised or effective, or whether they cross the line legally (for example, a government official denying operating permits to an otherwise-legal business) is a different question.

    @John, it does seem like the particular instances you’re talking about sound more like CEO doom-and-gloom tales of woe than actual policy decisions, as opposed to noted doucheclock Bob Murray actually firing people immediately after the election.

  15. Mythago:

    Yeah. Anyone firing people because Obama won an election is an asshole. I wouldn’t have a problem never giving that business another dollar.


    I don’t have problems with you linking out, no.

  16. Plop a john is currently giving away 2,000,000 pizzas according to their web site. They ran a promotion with the NFL to give away 200,000 pizzas earlier & a different one to give away 120,000. Let that soak in while you listen to the whiny dick sob about 14 cents a pizza. That number by the way is the worst case scenario he could come up other, more reliable estimates are 4-6 cents per pizza. I can’t boycott the chain because I have never eating a pizza from there anyway. Boycotts can be of marginal effectiveness but people are free to spend their money as they see fit.

  17. I think Kevin Riley summarized the matter quite succinctly. People supposedly wanted Obamacare; now they’re going to have to deal with ALL of it — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

  18. “Keep those people hired or I won’t give you my money!”

    That’s incentive for a business owner?

  19. I used to eat downstairs at the local burger joint. Great food. Period. I ate there a LOT.
    But after 10+ years of listening to the owners spout the worst kind of racial drivel, I made a new year’s resolution: never to eat there again. A year later, not once. It had been hard, their food is divine and close. But my ears have been saved from having to listen to non-stop hate.

    Oh yes, I ate there a lot. 5+ times a week. I figured that they lost from $2,500-$5,000 in business. A year. For the rest of my life.

    Shunning is a beautiful thing.

  20. “If Romney supporters and Obama supporters held mutual boycotts against each other, that would do more damage to the economy than any legislation that Romney would have signed (or that Obama plans on signing.)”

    Not true. Unless there were nowhere else left to shop. The gains and losses would most likely be offset.

    When I stopped eating at the Bigot’s R Us, I started eating elsewhere. One gain, One loss.

  21. When I’m tired and don’t want to cook or go out, I order online for pizza delivery. Selection is narrowed to three choices: Pizza Hut, Dominos, or Papa Johns. Papa Johns website is easiest to navigate and the pizza tastes best of the three. All stores are independently owned and operated. Therefore, I don’t care what the CEO says or does. I also don’t care if some businesses change how they run based on new healthcare laws. They are either going to reduce service, employee hours, or profits. The business owners can choose and I will decide whether to patronize or not.

  22. I think Kevin Riley summarized the matter quite succinctly. People supposedly wanted Obamacare; now they’re going to have to deal with ALL of it — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

    And you know how we’re going to deal with the “ugly” parts? Boycott businesses that take mean-spirited advantage of them! See? That was easy.

  23. Minimum wage, unions, child labor laws and now finally healthcare are all recognized as something that businesses abused when they could and are finally being address for everyone. Am I surprised that some business owners will howl and moan when the margin of profit they make off of every worker gets reduced? No. Will some business somewhere have such a tight margin of profit that the new regulations will be untenable and cause them to fail? Surely. But a business with that tight a profit margin is in great need of some reorganization anyway.

  24. @Andrew: “Throw a tantrum about Obamacare and I will give my money to your non-tantruming competitors”, actually, as Peter illustrates.

  25. The Applebees name is owned by IHOP. The original Applebees corporation was bought by IHOP sometime back around mid 2000 I think. Prior to the sale, some locations were corporate owned, some were franchise operations. IHOP is an all franchised operation.

    I learned this from one of the managers of an Applebees I used to go to in Albuquerque, NM. That one had been a corporation operation, and after about a half a year so so, it was sold to a franchising group.


  26. Good idea, boycott the chain, that way they’ll have less money coming in, and will have to close stores and/or fire workers. Way to show solidarity!

  27. No point arguing with people who a) have not read the actual bill, and b) have never owned a business. As part of wanting to prepare for my retirement, I’ve been doing a LOT of reading on what is coming, and when. That includes multiple re-readings of the bill itself (something the politicians who passed it still admit they have not done).

    Some scary stuff there, and it’s hard to be optimistic about it working well, if at all. And it will hurt people not fortunate to get exemptions (unions, certain businesses, and of course, the people who passed it). The very immediate effect of the law is that I now plan to work longer. And make no mistake; I’m not the “average” retiree. I’m better off than most, and yet I can’t work the numbers to let me retire so I don’t run out of money. Of course, I could plan on dying early . . . or counting on the government to take care of me and my wife. Isn’t that what governments do?

    No, I am not looking for arguments. Just saying (strongly suggesting) people should inform themselves, because if you think you are in a group that will not be affected (probably negatively affected), you might want to think again. At the very least, read the bill.

    Then again, it is the nature of people to believe “stuff” will not affect them.

  28. One of the great strengths of the Affordable Care Act is that, if a business shirks its responsibilities, its employees will still have access to affordable coverage through the exchanges. The employer may or may not get away with it, and even if it does, it leaves itself open to boycotts from the public and a bad rep with employees.

    But the health care will be there regardless. And that’s the whole point of ACA.

    I sat next to a guy on a plane last month who was lamenting how ACA would hurt his business because right now, he offers his employees a health plan, but hardly any of them take him up on it. Why? Because he only pays such a small part of the premiums, they can’t afford to pay the rest. In other words, right now, they have no actual health care avenue beyond the ER. This guy was so sincerely outraged about how he was the victim here…

  29. Yes, firing people just because Obama is elected is asinine as boycotting a business for following the law. Many businesses provided health care before the government mandate and did so in a way that was beneficial for itself and its employees. If an employee was not happy with the benefits their employer was providing they had many options and employers who didn’t respond to their employee needs usually ended up getting stuck with sub-par workers. We don’t need the government dictating what benefits we as employees should get.

    The “Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act” is another example of Obama Care having unexpected (by some) results. Thanks to Michelle Obama trying to “improve” kids lunches, many are not getting enough to eat. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. My athletic son is only allowed to consume the same calories as every other kid and is therefore never getting enough to eat from the cafeteria lunches. He and most of his friends (as well as many others) are now packing their lunches just to make sure they get their fill. As a result, our school is losing money on food that is being prepared and not eaten. Not as many lunch preparers are being needed because of the sudden decrease in consumption, and jobs may end up being lost. Our school is not the only one, I hear of it happening in many schools around the area. Sometime a knee jerk reaction to one problem can cause more/worse problems.

  30. @RobG: while the competition will prosper from the extra money coming in and will open stores and/or hire workers. So yes, great way to show solidarity!

    @disperser, couldn’t agree more about actually reading up on the bill. But what Scalzi is posting about are big-corporation CEOs doing what they always do: whining about Economic Doooooom whenever the government does something other than give them handouts.

  31. When the pizza restaurant I work it raises prices early next year, it will be in response to the price of mozzarella massively shooting upwards. Drought=scarce cattle feed=scarce milk=scarce milk products.
    When Papa Johns does it, it will be because of Obama blah blah blah.

  32. “*Damn* Obama and the Dumbocrats for arrogantly shoving Republican-designed healthcare reform down our throats!! The should have known better!”

  33. Good idea, boycott the chain, that way they’ll have less money coming in, and will have to close stores and/or fire workers. Way to show solidarity!

    Alternatively, they’ll learn their lesson, change their position, people will come flocking back, and they’ll have to hire more people!

    Thanks to Michelle Obama trying to “improve” kids lunches, many are not getting enough to eat

    You know, getting your only information from the right wing media didn’t work out so well for the election, so you should stop doing it now. The Michelle Obama school lunch was ginned up by conservative outlets combined with teenagers who didn’t like having their junk food taken away from them.

  34. @mythago: Don’t stop believing. Yes, and those new ventures will hire fewer workers knowing about ACA provisions, or they will run on a slimmer margin, which means they won’t be expanding to more stores to hire more workers, or they will charge more for their product, but that’s OK, you can boycott them, too.

    All in all fewer workers paying income tax, and fewer small-business owner, like pizza franchises, paying taxes means less money to pay for all that really awesome access to health care promised in the ACA.

    This issue is not only taking about pizza, or food services, this issue affects the decision made by every small and large business owner.

  35. In cases where I have difficulty reconciling my political leanings with my desire to eat at a particular place, I sometimes practice a sort of “moral carbon offset”, whereby I go shop wherever it is I want, and then send a donation of a similar amount to a charity that’s working counter to them. So when I wanted Chik-fil-a, I had it, and then sent $10 to Washington United for Marriage.

  36. I did miswrite, it affects small business owners much more, because most of them can’t diversify their revenue streams, nor can they lobby for tax breaks and ACA waivers in that manner that some large corporations and labor unions have been able to.

  37. Disclaimer: I don’t own a business.

    However, I don’t get the bellyaching from service-oriented businesses about ACA, or minimum wage, or other such things, because all your Stateside competitors have the same problems. If your restaurant has to raise prices because the cost of labor’s gone up, so do all your competitors. You’re not competing against third-world shitholes^Wlibertarian utopias without labor laws, because we’re not going to travel 3000 miles for a sandwich.

  38. @Kevin
    History has shown us over and over that without intervention business will set themselves up in such a fashion so as to make profits at the expense of the work vs to the advantage of the worker. If the business truly wanted to be relieved of the burden of dealing with healthcare then they should be all for a universal healthcare system that is given to everyone. The mindset that is being fought against is that some of us think proper healthcare and nutrition is a right while others think it’s privilege.

    As for your sidebar of the school lunch program, the standards being set are for the benefit of children who come from households where proper nutrition is poor if not absent completely because having 300 calories of nutritious food is more beneficial to malnourished children than 500 calories of junk food especially if the food they get at home is cheap pastas and such that are devoid of vitamins & minerals. If your athletic son needs more calories for his activities skipping the nutritious lunch is an option, but so is just packing him a little bit of extra food in snack form.

  39. Nearly every company in the US is playing with hours and number of employees in order to get around new health care laws. From tech to bus drivers.

  40. @David The problem with Michelle Obama’s lunch program has nothing to do with “teenagers who didn’t like having their junk food taken away”, it’s with the one-size-fits-all response to obesity. The schools 6’2″ 205lb star basketball player is only allowed the same calories as the 5’5″ 125lb chess team captain. Any nutritionist will tell you these two people require different caloric intake. Common sense needs to return to (or make an appearance within) our ruling class. “Some children are fat so let’s starve them all” is not making things better. “Some people do not have health insurance so let’s force it on them” is not helping the majority of people either.

  41. I formerly worked as an Assistant Manager for a fast food franchise and one of my responsibilities there was managing the employee schedule. Many of my employees there were high school or college students, and for the most part they were nowhere near being able to have enough hours to qualify for health insurance. Most of the people were able to work something like 20-25 hours a week.

    Quite frankly, I don’t have a problem with this. When most of your employees are still students, many of them are either still under their parents health care coverage or in good enough health that they really don’t need it.

    Let’s look at what these businesses provide, a lot of jobs and very few careers. Most of the people who work at these stores will work there for 2 to 3 years on average and generally when they’re younger. These aren’t jobs that most people are going to try and make a career from, and we need to realize that.

    On a slight tangent, this is also why I had a problem with Ohio increasing it’s minimum wage as much as it did recently (it went from I believe $5.35 to over $7 in about 2 years). All it does is increase the cost of simpler goods and services provided by places that employ a lot of younger people, which does nothing more than increase the cost of living for those who do have careers in better jobs.

  42. ricknm505 said- History has shown us over and over that without intervention business will set themselves up in such a fashion so as to make profits at the expense of the work vs to the advantage of the worker.

    The company I work for has offered healthcare for all workers sense it was founded. The McDonald’s I used to work for even offered healthcare, so I don’t feel a mandate from the government is needed. If the company you work for doesn’t provide the benefits you want, negotiate with them, strike, go elsewhere, or even start your own business. We are not slaves to the companies we work for or to or government.

  43. @kevin

    I find your assumption that everyone has the resources available to strike, start a business of their own or shop around for employers who pay for benefits because of their magnanimity to be unrealistic. Employers who offer above and beyond benefits packages are trying to attract talent and use the benefits package as a salary enhancement because that talent adds more to the bottom line of the company than the benefit being offered. When it comes to manual labor and many service industry jobs there is a cap on how much even the most talented employee can add to the bottom line and costs rise due to events beyond employers controls (drought causing price increases for instance) those employer will look to sustain profits even at the expense of the general health and well being of their employees. This is why we have safety regulations, and is now why we are mandating healthcare insurance. Businesses have many avenues they can pursue to reduce costs, innovation to make their processes more efficient, conservation measures to reduce waste and even reduction in workforce. The idea is that if a business needs to enact one of those measures it would be better if they had to eliminate an employee altogether than to decide to risk that employees health and safety.

    From an employees perspective, whether unexpected health emergencies may or may not cause bankruptcy should not be a factor in the job search.

  44. RE:L Boycotts in general — The recent Chick-fil-A boycott folks needed to do their homework, and didn’t, when they boycotted the ONE franchise in Southern California that had publicly denounced the policy from the owners. Why? Because the group was in West Hollywood, and traveling to the other stores was admittedly pretty far away, so they hit the Hollywood store.
    Boycotting is a valid tool, but it requires some thought into consequences. Just saying.


  45. If a business’ costs go up, the business has two options: absorb the costs, resulting in lower profit margins, or pass the costs on to their customers. Most businesses choose the second, weighing that against the possibility that those increased prices will lower sales, so they figure out the best path for them.

    In this case, let’s say the price of a pizza goes up $0.14 and that cost is passed on to the consumer. It’s easy to rail against the company for being “too cheap” to absorb that, but are you – as a consumer who is in favor of the ACA – also “too cheap” to absorb that to pay for your fellow citizens’ healthcare? If that’s the case, you shouldn’t have voted for the bill or the politicians advocating it.

    This is how life works. Nothing is free, someone has to pay for it. It’s generally the consumer.

    BTW, the vast majority of franchises *are* “local eateries”. Let’s all be clear on that. Boycotting these places hurts only your local business owners and their local employees (boycotting is not the same as simply choosing not to eat someplace in favor of someplace else). Choose wisely.

  46. @RobG: Those workers, if they’re at a minimum-wage joint, likely either don’t make enough to pay income tax or pay very little; but they’ll also be able to get by on those lower wages because they’ll have health care instead of out-of-pocket medical expenses, and the customers will likewise have more pocket money to spend on pizza instead of dentist bills. Plus, RobG’s Family Pizza Joint (assuming the ACA applies to a business of that size) doesn’t now have to worry about losing employees to Domino’s because RobG’s can’t afford to offer a health-care plan but Domino’s (being an enormous corporation) can; the RobGs of the world can actually compete fairly in the business marketplace.

    (See, if you’re going to argue ideology instead of the actual provisions of the ACA, we can keep at this forever. For every parade of horribles you trot out about Oppression of the Free Market there’s a victory celebration about Virtuous Circles and more money flowing back into the economy.)

    @Adam: Setting aside the fact that your employer was, in effect, relying on your workers’ parents to subsidize its labor costs, your experience definitely varies. Where I live, the majority of fast-food workers are not college kids who can rely on Mom or Dad’s health plan if they get hit by a bus.

  47. The funny thing is that anyone really concerned about fiscal responsibility, helping businesses and balancing the budget should be all over healthcare reform.

    Found a nice info breakdown here

    Some notable numbers are that the United States has a per-capita healthcare spending of $8362 a year, $4437 of which is purely government spending. This is 17.9% of the GDP

    By contrast, Germany’s per-capita spending is $4332, almost all of which is government spending. This number is almost identical to other countries like Canada and France.

    So, by switching to a copy of the German (or really, the rest of the civilized world’s) system, the United States would immediately eliminate all employer health liabilities, significantly reduce costs associated with sick days and eliminated all the costs associated with medical bankruptcies, which are by far the leading cause of bankruptcies in the USA.

    And still be able to lower taxes a little.

    This doesn’t mention the long term benefits associated with better long-term care like infant mortality rates.

    Any real businessperson should be pushing for proper nation healthcare at every opportunity. Anything else is not a rational decision, it is an ideological one.

  48. “Where I live, the majority of fast-food workers are not college kids who can rely on Mom or Dad’s health plan if they get hit by a bus.”

    Yeah, that’s not the case here, either – there’s surprising (well, to me, because I do still think of fast food jobs as teenager jobs) amount of older people working at them, and not a particularly small number of post teen people.

    And even kids that are of the age to be on their parent’s healthcare don’t necessarily have parents with healthcare.

  49. The gripping hand is that businesses were limiting hours to avoid full-time benefits long before “Obamacare” was a gleam in the Heritage Foundation’s eye. When I was in college, everyone knew that if you no longer were covered under your parent’s heath insurance you wanted a job somewhere like Starbuck’s where you could still get full benefits for fewer hours per week than other service jobs.

  50. A better question is why Papa John’s wasn’t able to get a waiver. Did Obama just give rhem out to people who bribed (sorry, donated) him?

  51. @ricknm505 you said “When it comes to manual labor and many service industry jobs there is a cap on how much even the most talented employee can add to the bottom line…” Personally I find this insulting. Thattype of thinking is only correct when discussing the status quo. Talented (and even not so talented) employees can come up with innovative ideas to add to the bottom line. They can think outside the box, come up with new/better processes and products. The company I work for is currently switching from providing parts for appliances to providing pars for the automotive market. The same size parts using the same material (finished differently) will triple our profit. This change is due to the innovation of the employees, not the business heads.

    I also find it insulting that you think people don’t have the “resources available to strike, start a business of their own or shop around for employers who pay for benefits”. It’s this sort of thinking that leaves people stagnant. There is always opportunity for people to better themselves, to make themselves more valuable, it’s just not always the easy way out.

  52. “Any real businessperson should be pushing for proper nation healthcare at every opportunity. Anything else is not a rational decision, it is an ideological one.”

    I don’t think this is true. It’s rational (not necessarily correct, but not unreasonable) to believe that our system is so entrenched that it CAN’T be replaced with something else, even if you want to. And not irrational to believe that trying to do so might make the system we have worse.

    I don’t actually believe those are true, myself, but I do have concerns about how you would even be able to switch over an entity the size and complexity of our healthcare system as it is even if we manage to accumulate the will to do so.

    Many of the other success systems were able to grow and evolve with medicine. Retrofitting it maybe en entirely different animal. I’d actually be curious if any country has managed to switch over in the last, say, 20 years from private to nationalized healthcare?

  53. @shakauvm, likely because they either didn’t qualify for a waiver, or decided that it was more profitable to operate under the ACA without a waiver. “Because if the President is more liberal than me he’s taking bribes” is, I’m guessing, not actually the answer.

  54. It’s the unintended consequences that always get you.

    I understand why the people who support Obamacare do so. It would be lovely if everyone had healthcare paid for by someone else.

    The problem is that in the real world someone has to be that “someone else”. Nothing is free. The costs will be passed on to everyone. If you want to punish the companies that pass along these costs, go ahead and do it. You will punish the ones that have the guts to tell you the truth. The rest will quietly pass the costs along by cutting employees and raising prices. In the end, you are only punishing free speech and courage.

    The President’s number one economic adviser is Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric. During Immelt’s tenure as head of the jobs council his company outsourced thousands of jobs overseas to China to save money. GE paid NO taxes on billions of dollars of revenue. Are you going to boycott GE?

    The election is over. Obama won. I don’t have a dog in the race anymore. You all remain unconvinced that our current economic policies are CAUSING the recession to continue, but they are.

    Stop for a minute and consider the possibility that Conservatives are not evil.

    Seriously, we are not a bunch of hate mongers. I understand why people vote against the party that is against gay marriage. It’s an institutional religious policy that needs to be changed. I understand that. You need to understand that the president’s policies are going to hurt the economy. It is inevitable. It has already happened. The economy is still in the toilet because of the president’s policies. It’s a fact. And Obamacare is going to make it worse.

    I don’t want the economy to suck. I really don’t. But it is going to happen. If you want to blame someone, look in the mirror.

  55. Nic F: the cartoon is by Barry Deutsch (a/k/a Amp) of Amptoons and Alas! A Blog (September 7, 2009). (Drat, why are my line breaks always odd here?)

  56. Here’s what I don’t get about the Pappa John’s CEO’s comments. The law only applies to those who work over 30 hours a week. In retail and food service, almost no one works more than 30 hours a week, since once an employee crosses that threshold all sorts of other benefits kick in (to traditionally include health insurance). Usually, only salaried management employees will work more than 30 hours and they closely monitor the time of the others to ensure that they don’t cross the magic 30 hour threshold. Accordingly, the law will impact almost no one, and those it does are already getting benefits.

    His comments strike me as raising a non-issue to make a political point about a law he doesn’t like.

  57. It’s not a boycott if I refuse to watch Honey Boo Boo or Jersey Shore either, as I never did. As to the latter, I used to LIVE on the Jersey Shore, and so feel especially insulted, and then, you know, Superstorm Sandy.

    I would never eat Papa John’s Pizza anyway, as I come from New York City, and thus know what pizza was intended by an Intelligent Designer to be. And Chicon 7 gave me access again to some superb pizza.

    The last time I stopped buying something that I formerly bought, because of ideology or idiocy, was BP gasoline. They did have their own gas stations. And, you know, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (a.k.a. the BP oil spill, the BP oil disaster, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the Macondo blowout).

    I am not buying any Newt Gingrich Historical Alternate History novels, but that’s not because of two grotesque divorces. And I found myself praising him to a University History Department Chair at a party last night because, after all, Gingrich says that he went into History because of Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy.

  58. It’s certainly true that if you boycott every business whose owner has political positions that differ from yours, you’ll starve. BUT:

    Some spend huge amounts of money to do things that you find hateful. Some force their employees to contribute their time and money to support those things. And some actively treat their employees and customers with contempt, based on their race, religion, or sexual inclination. Those are worth boycotting.

    The guy who runs Whole Foods is a a libertarian asshole, but he treats his employees very well, and he has generally green policies about food. I’m not boycotting him. But Mr. Chick-fil-A? He can roast in whatever hell a Jewish atheist like me can imagine.

  59. @Billy Quiets, really, there is nothing “courageous” about firing a bunch of employees in a fit of pique; it is not “punishing” free speech to exercise one’s freedom to spend money at Business A rather than Business B. (Why is the free market only free when consumers STFU and spend money where they’re told?) As for truth, we’ll see what some of those companies report to their shareholders and to the SEC. It’s remarkable how much of the pissing and moaning about the Dark Days of Obama disappears under penalty of perjury, or in telling shareholders how wickedly amazing the company’s doing this quarter.

    Also, protip: the way you become a believable spokesman for conservatives is to have a track record of accuracy and sound arguments. “We’re not all evil!” Well, sure, okay. That doesn’t tell me much about whether your economic predictions are correct. Your election predictions certainly don’t inspire confidence in that regard.

  60. I have not bought a Dole product since the 90’s, after learning bout their South American practices. Does it hurt the company any? Well, not likely, but I have influenced at least 20 other people to do the same. Sometimes I’m left going without, but it seems that I still find it worth the effort. In this case, the two aforementioned companies, and Dominos, are easier to avoid, as their food is awful. Win-win.

  61. Jonathan, See now you’re proving my point. Don’t punish William Forstchen, the excellent author of ONE SECOND AFTER and most of Gingrich’s books.

  62. @Billy Quiets
    Except that it doesn’t work out that way. Anywhere. A hundred years ago when socialized healthcare was first being seriously discussed you could legitimately worry that the result would be a nasty feedback loop that ended with everyone living in caves.

    Check out these numbers

    Every other mature economy in the world uses socialized medicine and it costs them half of what the USA is paying per-capita. They also enjoy similar or, in many cases, superior medical outcomes.

    Extraordinary claims call for extraordinary proof. In this case I can’t help but feel that “socialized healthcare doesn’t work or is more expensive” is a rather extraordinary claim. It is completely unsupported on any level, whereas the reverse enjoys a large body of real world evidence.

    If you want to say that “A more expensive and poorly functioning healthcare system is the price we pay for preserving individual freedom”, then fine. I’d argue it on a lot of levels, including natural monopolies and the problems capitalism in systems of inherently unequal information. I’d also argue that we voluntarily restrict freedoms all the time (Yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater is the classic example) and that the current healthcare system in the USA is so appalling that agreeing to make an exception would be a supremely rational act.

    But if you say that “socialized medicine would be worse than our current system” I think the burden is on you to present some sort of thorough and independent evidence to justify that claim.

  63. Billy’s right. William Forstchen does about 90% of the work, but celebrity co-authors’ names sell books… Wikipedia remind me: “William R. Forstchen (born 1950) is an American author who began publishing in 1983 with the novel Ice Prophet. He is a Professor of History and Faculty Fellow at Montreat College, in Montreat, North Carolina. He received his doctorate from Purdue University with specializations in Military History, the American Civil War and the History of Technology.
    Forstchen is the author of more than forty books, including the award winning We Look Like Men of War, a young adult novel about an African-American regiment that fought at the Battle of the Crater, which is based upon his doctoral dissertation, The 28th USCTs: Indiana’s African-Americans go to War, 1863-1865 and the “Lost Regiment” series which has been optioned by both Tom Cruise and M. Night Shyamalan….”

  64. @ Ryan,

    There have been numerous stories in the press about the shortcomings of many nations national health services. We had quite the discussion about it not to long ago on Whatever…

  65. Speaking as a hardcore multigenerational partisan Democrat, I have no problem with people (and by “people” I mean human beings) having supported Romney. It’s the dog-in-the-manger types who can’t accept losing after the fact that deserve contempt.

    Business decisions, even misguided ones, are the business of businessmen, so to speak. That has nothing to do with slagging the government after the election. What a business says in public is about marketing. Publicizing a political view is purely about appealing to customers who happen to share that view. The business is asking consumers to change their behavior in response to the business’s statement, so a boycott should be an expected response.

    It is true that some laws and regulation may increase costs in some parts of the economy, but often the net benefit to society can greatly outweigh the costs to a business. For a business that saves a few pennies with process that release lethal pollution, to me the profit and prices of that business are less important than the survival of the neighbors. Putting in ramps for wheelchairs may not be made up by the profits from new disabled customers, but society at large benefits from the income taxes of workers who are allowed to be productive. More inclusive healthcare might cause slightly higher costs here or there, but for the government the cost of preventative care is much less than the cost of emergency care, so the total cost to society will be less, and again the taxes to be paid by people who are not excluded from the workforce due to illness is positive. Assuming that government spending is in some way related to government revenue, anything that reduces total public and private costs and/or increases revenue will be better for everyone who pays taxes. Setting aside economic variables, anything that improves the lives of lower-wage or otherwise less-fortunate people at a reasonable cost promotes liberty and justice for all, values that many Americans consider important.

    Laws change. Rational businessmen find ways to adapt. In a free economy, irrational businessmen are free to go bankrupt or be replaced by nimbler competitors.

  66. It’s completely possible for a business model that’s been working, to no longer be profitable (or no longer be able to support the same number of employees) because of changes in the law. Business exist to make money. It would be silly to expect the business owners to not make changes in their business to avoid losing money.
    And to the person who said that all their competitors would have to raise prices by the same amount; no they wouldn’t. Cheapo restaurants don’t just compete with other cheapo restaurants. They compete with higher-priced restaurants (whose prices wouldn’t rise as much, relatively speaking), and with grocery stores and with vending machines, whose labor costs are a much smaller ratio of the price of the food. Mind you, I think fewer people dining out, especially at places that serve mass-produced fake food, would be a good thing for general health.

  67. @Andrew
    Unfortunately, while I have enjoyed Mr. Scalzi’s books for quite a while, I have just discovered his site. A terrible oversight on my part, I know, but it prevents me from commenting about previous discussions. But stories in the press are not exactly great sources for anything, unless it’s titled something like ‘The Economist Presents an Overview of Health Statistics’. The typical news story, even from a good publication, generally doesn’t cite its sources well enough to be a very interesting source of data. I’ll take actual data any day.

    But while my initial comment was a direct response to some of Billy Quiets’ comments, turning this into a general discussion of healthcare would seem to be rather off-topic.

    Perhaps Mr. Scalzi will be kind enough to open a topic better suited to the discussion at some point in the future.

  68. There’s some question as to whether the ACA “full time employment” standard is 30 hours per week, or 120 or 130 hours per month. Since some months have 23 “business days”, if it’s 120 hours, that might mean 25 hours a week. I’m sure this will be straightened out eventually.

  69. Paul G: Be careful @Kevin Riley- you’re bringing logic into a Whatever politics thread. It rarely plays well here.

    I think your head is perhaps a bit dry. A good long soak should take care of the problem.

  70. @ ricknm505

    Andrew, universal healthcare with shortcomings beats no healthcare every time.

    While I appreciate that the ACA has helped many Americans, friends of mine among them, I hope it’s legacy isn’t that we don’t see the comprehensive healthcare reform our country badly needs in the foreseeable future, and that we aren’t left to the rough road of market-driven realignments. The whole mess is a microcosm of the entire failure of bipartisanship driven by Democratic in-the-box thinking and Republican knee-jerk obstructionism.

  71. Gulliver, Your post is exactly the kind of thing I don’t get. You say, “Republican knee-jerk obstructionism” is somehow responsible for the failure of bipartisanship in the Healthcare law.

    The entire fucking health care law was passed without any Republican input. The Democrats had the House, the Senate and the Executive and could still barely get the damn thing passed because no one knew what was in it, and most Americans were scared of the consequences of passing something that no one understood. The Republicans don’t have one single iota of responsibility for the monstrosity that is Obamacare. They were invited to one meeting. ONE. One single meeting. Solamente UNO. .

    Were the Republicans against the huge unknown, unread, partisan bill that is Obamacare? Yes. Because their constituents were against it. Is it “knee-jerk obstructionism” to do what the people who elected you want you to do? I don’t think so.

    It was a shit bill, and now it’s a shit law. The consequences of which are only just now becoming apparent because it was not even remotely bipartisan.

  72. @ Billy Quiets

    You say, “Republican knee-jerk obstructionism” is somehow responsible for the failure of bipartisanship in the Healthcare law.

    The GOP stated it themselves, on many occasions, that their chief legislative objective and strategy was to simply oppose whatever the President proposed. That began about two-weeks after Obama was sworn in…twice because the first time wasn’t good enough for those on the Right side of the aisle.

    The entire fucking health care law was passed without any Republican input.

    I assume you mean except for the parts modeled on Romneycare? The GOP’s allergic reaction to universal healthcare and socialized medicine is fairly recent symptom. And whipping up fear among elderly voters about death-panels and medicine rationing weren’t winning tactics. I may not like Dubya’s Trained Sexual Assaulters, but comparing them to the Gestapo would simply earn me incredulity from most of the peanut gallery. Preaching to the choir doesn’t win elections, as the Democrats learned the hard way in 2004.

    They were invited to one meeting. ONE. One single meeting. Solamente UNO.

    Yeah, I watched the photo-op on C-SPAN. Do you really believe the Do Nothing party would have offered anything other than business as usual or more deregulation? For all their talk about how something had to be done, but not in a million years what the Administration proposed, the only serious counter-proposals I saw were coming from independents and third parties and being roundly ignored by the Rubs and Dems. Sun Tzu warned about the perils of letting your opponent lead, and that’s precisely where the GOP’s march toward reactionary policy has lead them.

    Were the Republicans against the huge unknown, unread, partisan bill that is Obamacare?

    It wouldn’t be so damn long if the bill’s opponents hadn’t forced its backers to make dozens of quid-pro-quo deals and embed innumerable loopholes to find support.

    It was a shit bill, and now it’s a shit law.

    It has its flaws in that it’s mostly half-measures, but parts of it are saving lives. Call me a pinko if you like, but I don’t see the benefit to America of letting Americans die because insurance companies find it profitable to deny coverage to their customers by labeling anything that actually costs more than the premiums a “pre-existing condition” and leaving paying customers high and dry through legalized fraud. I’m not thrilled with the Bain Aid we got, but the GOP’s attitude that the healthcare system can simply bleed to death isn’t much of an alternative.

  73. @Gulliver > You’re right. It was a very mediocre compromise. One hopes that future Congresses will be able to better recognize the human-right aspect of healthcare.

    @Billy Quiets > Disingenuous and unconvincing. The Republicans manipulated the filibuster rules of the Senate to block most discussion and compromise. “Obamacare”, as in a highly private-insurance-oriented flavor of wider healthcare with many flawed elements, was the most the Democrats could get past the Republican filibuster threat, majorities notwithstanding.

    Yes, opposing the will of the majority and refusing any form of compromise is very much “knee-jerk obstructionism”. The people who elected Republicans were not the only ones who mattered. Most people want a government that serves all the people. If Republicans want to have things their way, they are free to campaign for their principles and try to win elections.

    For things like Supreme Court justice appointments, where Senate approval is a clearly-articulated constitutional rule, George W Bush demanded “straight up-and-down” votes, but when Democrats had the majority, Republicans resisted any time they could apply the filibuster tactic, on ordinary legislation. What is supposed to happen is that individual legislators represent different points of the political spectrum, so that there should be opportunities for compromise on legislation, but Republicans have purged dissenters in their ranks, such there is little ground for finding a sufficient range of views to find any consensus or build any compromise.

  74. You are looking at a very simple example of why regulation doesn’t work beyond a certain point. Relatively inconsequential regulation will be complied with or ignored depending on the severity of the consequences. Truly significant regulation which impacts the bottom line will be evaded to the full extent of the impact on that bottom line. It is a law of economics. Capital is smart and fluid. It will follow the path of least resistance and will carve a channel where none exists. Government, which can only tax a certain percentage of income before people stop working altogether, will never be able to afford to implement and police significant regulation in the face of market dynamics which redirect assets for self-preservation against grossly intrusive regulation.

    Consider the income tax. How many hours are spent by the populace, their accountants, the IRS, lawyers, courts, and the penal system going around and around about what constitutes income, what shelters are legit and which ones are illegal? It’s a mockery. Implement a flat sales tax and all of that goes away. People who consume more pay more taxes. Done!

    Too simple? Sure is. We can’t maintain 93,000 IRS employees if there is a sales tax! Think of all of the unemployed lawyers and accountants!!! Impossible! Hideously complex regulations and arcane laws and rules MUST be maintained, consequences be damned!

  75. @KIA: you’re suggesting that the same people who found ways to complicate income tax will be utterly trapped with a “flat sales tax”? C’mon. (And that’s not even getting into whether a sales tax replacing income tax is a wise idea; it’s not.)

    @Billy Quiets, keeping things on topic and skipping the political Grand Guignol there, the CEOs of various national chains are not bemoaning Obamacare at this late date because they’ve just figured out it will cost them a few bucks. They’re pissy because their guy lost – and whatever else one thinks of Romney, from the point of view of big business they couldn’t have had a better ally if they’d built one themselves out of marzipan. As has been pointed out by wiser persons than me, a business that suddenly fires a hundred people because ELECTION is not a very well-run business; either those people were superfluous and dragging on the company’s smooth functioning already, or they were necessary and the CEO just blew money on employee turnover to make a dubious point.

  76. In the meantime, those of us living in civilised countries with nationalised healthcare are looking at the discussion in the USA and wondering what the heck you bunch are smoking.

    The usual rallying cry of businesses here in Australia is, “pass the costs on to the consumer.” I don’t think any businesses here actually believe that cutting back staff is the way to increase profits: especially not in industries such as hospitality & services where your workers are your production capital. We’ve gotten used to the idea that layoffs mean a company is sinking.

    We have a medicare tax which is a fix proportion of salaried income for people in certain wage brackets. We also have compulsory private health insurance: it’s us the people who buy their own health insurance, not companies that buy it on behalf of their employees. We have generic brand drugs, too: if a company wants to sell their name brand in Australia they must allow generic brands to be sold too. Despite the size of our market, there are still major brands peddling their wares here so obviously the nationalised health insurance & generic brand drugs aren’t killing anyone’s profits.

    So before you start paying heed to Republican campaigns about “death panels” and “nationalised healthcare is Communism” you should come visit Australia, France and the UK. There are no bread lines, no planned economies, no nationalisation of private assets. Just nation-wide health care we all contribute to with varying levels of reluctance (hey, who likes paying taxes?), the important thing being that we look out for our mates.

    And in Australia, we’re all mates (but we’re not all called Bruce).

  77. @Billy Quiets –

    Sadly, the President himself made vengeance a theme in his reelection

    A single figure of speech, used a single time at the very end of a campaign, cannot possibly be construed a “Theme” in any but the most diseased of minds.

    Stop for a minute and consider the possibility that Conservatives are not evil.

    Cram it. Conservatives have spent a very long time calling us evil, calling us traitors, saying we are in league with terrorists, asking “Why do you hate America so much?”, saying we are “cockroaches” who “need to be stamped out” and suggesting that we be dealt with via “second-amendment solutions”. So go ahead and fuck right the fucking fuck off. You’ve earned nothing better.

    Seriously, we are not a bunch of hate mongers

    You lie. And you lie, and then you lie some more. It is inevitable. It is a fact.

  78. Consumer boycotts are an exercise of the consumer’s right of choice within a free market situation. The boycott, when it comes right down to it, is nothing more than a provision of marketing feedback by the consumer. Everything which comes out into the public domain about a company and its products can be said to be marketing material, including such things as whether or not their advertising is placed in close proximity to the views of an objectionable “shock jock” on the radio, whether the Community and Government Relations Manager of your national retail chain appears to endorse such views, and the stated views of your host company’s CEO or franchise figurehead’s CEO.

    What is being said by persons who participate in a boycott is nothing more or less than this: “What we are hearing about your company does not make us inclined to spend our money with you/on your products”.

    And here’s the other thing about boycotts: the companies being boycotted are welcome to ignore them.

  79. @Alex Satrapa
    They don’t need to go puddle jumping. A decent chunk of the American population is within a few hours drive of the Canadian boarder.

    Read a hilarious article a couple days ago. The premise was that the Canadian economy was now healthier (definitely true) and more economically free (depends how you measure) than the USA’s. The funny bit was where the writer blamed the relative decline of the USA to all the (minimal) new banking regulations that have been put in place since the crash, as compared to Canada who has not added any serious banking regulation in the last few years. It was very carefully phrased to ignore that Canada put a significant amount of regulation in place in the 90s and never removed most of it. Most of the shenanigans that got the USA in trouble were never legal north of the boarder and even now banking in Canada is much more strictly regulated than the USA.

    And it seems to be working out rather well.

  80. Alex, you say, “opposing the will of the majority and refusing any form of compromise is very much “knee-jerk obstructionism”.

    So true. The will of the majority was to NOT PASS Obamacare. The majority opposed it. Your commentary about filibusters is just a bunch of senseless blather. I say that not to insult you, but because what you said makes absolutely no sense. Nothing the Republicans did had any bearing at all on the Health care bill. The bill passed. Did a filibuster make it a shitty bill? No. Did a filibuster work? No. Did it pass. Yes.

    As for winning elections you are right. Republicans must win to promote their principles. Absolutely.

    We didn’t win. We lost. We are losers.

    So, here we are. Your side have won every damn thing. Except, apparently, responsibility.

    No, if things don’t work out, it’s always someone else’s fault.

    Sorry, but you won. Own it. The Republicans are powerless. Utterly defeated. When everything goes tits up it ain’t our fault. We did every damn thing we could to stop what is happening and we lost. Totally, irrevocably, completely lost.

    And if you think I want everything to suck, you couldn’t be more wrong. I want to have a good life. I want my son to have a good life. I don’t want my country to go down the drain to prove I was right about politics. I really don’t.

    All I ask is for you to hold your own leaders to the same standard you demand of the other side. And while you’re at it, ask for some integrity from the media. If George Bush or Ronald Reagan had been in charge during the abysmal failure in Benghazi, the press would have crucified them.

  81. @Billy Quiets
    “The will of the majority was to NOT PASS Obamacare. The majority opposed it.”

    This is an odd statement. Healthcare reform was part of the platform that Obama was first elected on, with a majority popular vote. It passed both houses with (by definition) more than 50% support. And Obama has just been reelected with a majority of the popular vote in a campaign where the future of healthcare reform was a major issue.

  82. Billy doesn’t like facts, his “gut” tells him he is right. His “gut” told him Obama wouldn’t win 4 years ago. His “gut” told him Romney would win in a landslide, and his “gut”(and fox news) is telling him healthcare for everyone is Baaaaaad. Billy never gets tired of being wrong.

  83. I don’t mind consumer boycotts and I have engaged/continue to engage in a few of my own. But I’ve never understood the logic of taking out disagreement with a franchise parent company on individual franchisers, whether it’s international anti-globalisation protesters protesting US Imperialism or capitalism or whatever by smashing up McDonald’s restaurants owned by local franchise operators or ecological protesters taking out their anger with Shell by picketing individual gas stations. But then I guess a lot of people don’t understand how the franchise system works.

  84. Ryan, go back and look. I know it’s ancient history, but really, hop on the google machine and check it out. The majority of Americans were opposed to it. And yes, I am aware that Obama got reelected. So everything is going to be great now, right? No problems. The evil Republicans are powerless. Neutered. It’s all going to work out because Obama cares. Forward!

  85. @Billy Quiets
    re: Majority. To quote one of the greatest characters of one of the greatest movies ever, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means”.

    @Cora Buhlert
    I think the franchises have to take the bad with the good. They are perfectly happy to accept the good PR when the parent company is doing good public works. Supporting kids camps or matching cancer research donations and the like. So when the parent company attracts bad PR they get to own that too.

    By definition they have voluntarily chosen to associate themselves, both as people and as a business, with the larger organization. I don’t think they get to play the get-out-of-bigotry-free card while still enjoying the benefits of the franchise.

  86. I am not ANYTHING resembling neutral on this topic. i can’t be.

    i’ve been almost killed waaaaaaaaaaay too many times – by doctors who didn’t want to treat me because i have medicaid/medicare through SSDI, and before *that* doctors who saw how little i made and didn’t want to accept only what insurance paid.

    not exaggerating. not joking. i’d *kill* to go back in time and actually finish the Hell Of Getting Waivers because the only people in this country who aren’t RICH and have decent healthcare are Military. i KNOW – i had Champus until i was 20 – and it was a *huge* difference. one month, doctors and dentists treated me. the next?


    my only problem with “Obamacare” is a problem already referenced – it isn’t *enough*. look at the U.S.’s infant and maternal death raters! *CUBA AND INDIA* have better [lower per capita] rates! and, dude, if *CUBA* is beating us…

    and no one mention socialism. just… don’t.

    people whine and complain about the “potential waiting” for healthcare, about waiting lists and “death panels” [tell me TRUE – who would *YOU* rather decide whether or not you’re getting the life-saving treatment, the guy who’s just a gov’t shill who has to make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, or the big-corp shill who gets a BONUS if he denies so many procedures? and fined if he accepts too many?]
    us poor people – since i am now poor, and on medicaid/care, because i am now disabled [and hey, i PAID for this!] have ALWAYS had those – and no guarantee that we’d *ever* get to the head of the line. and you know what? if you can afford to pay for you, you still won’t wait. it’s just… silly. we should have a real, true single-payer system; they WORK, and for *LESS* than is being paid NOW. for the same level of care!

    Papa John’s specifically – i worked for the same franchise owner that Mr. Scalzi referenced as owning his local store – trust me, ONLY managers at those stores are *ever* going to get health insurance. when i was there, if you didn’t work 40 hours, you didn’t get it. and they’d schedule you 39.9 hours…

  87. Obama’s counterpart in the House turned out to be a user, a cheater, and now Boehner’s going through a custody battle. All you people care about is….. readers and making money off of this.

    THEY’RE HUMAN! What you don’t realize is that POLITICS is making you all this money and all you do is write a bunch of crap about it.

    LEAVE GOVERNMENT ALONE! You are lucky the government even performed for you BASTARDS!
    LEAVE HER ALONE!…..Please.

    Darrell Issa talked about professionalism and said if Obama was a professional he would’ve pulled Benghazi off no matter what.

    Speaking of professionalism, when is it professional to publicly bash someone who is going through a hard time.

    Leave the government Alone Please…. !
    Leave it alone!…right now!….I mean it!

  88. @Billy Quiets: “The majority of Americans were opposed to it.”

    Are you, perhaps, referring to the “majority” that included people who thought it was better than nothing but believed it should have gone farther? Because every time I’ve seen that claim, it seems to be based on poll numbers that lumped that group in with the people who were completely opposed. And including people who thought there had been too many compromises made doesn’t support your arguments very well.

    Of course, telling your opponents to go look up data to support your accusation doesn’t support it very well either.

  89. @Billy Quiets –

    If George Bush or Ronald Reagan had been in charge during the abysmal failure in Benghazi, the press would have crucified them.

    Throughout the Bush II years there were eleven embassies attacked and fifty people in those embassies killed. Where were the press crucifixes then? Where was the conservative outrage then? Where was yours? Yeah; that’s what I thought.

    And if you think I want everything to suck, you couldn’t be more wrong. I want to have a good life. I want my son to have a good life. I don’t want my country to go down the drain to prove I was right about politics. I really don’t.

    Everything else you’ve ever said, every time you’ve twisted away from facts and logic, every time you’ve tried to pin the blame for the consequences of conservative policy failures on liberals, reveals the claims in the above statement to false. The conservative movement will sacrifice anything and anyone on the altar of their convictions as long as it looks like there is a way to make liberals take the blame. It’s what they’ve always done.

  90. @ Eric Saveau

    Conservatives have spent a very long time calling us evil, calling us traitors, saying we are in league with terrorists, asking “Why do you hate America so much?”, saying we are “cockroaches” who “need to be stamped out” and suggesting that we be dealt with via “second-amendment solutions”. So go ahead and fuck right the fucking fuck off. You’ve earned nothing better.

    I sympathize. Hell, I empathize. Hell, I’m one of the cockroaches. But, as much as I think Billy Quiets and like-minded conservatives are blind and misguided, I personally don’t think it’s a good idea to level retribution on all conservatives for what only some of them do. In short, I’ve never seen Billy say those things himself, and until I do, I choose to give him the benefit of the doubt on that very particular score. Just my opinion.

    @ Cora Buhlert

    But I’ve never understood the logic of taking out disagreement with a franchise parent company on individual franchisers, whether it’s international anti-globalisation protesters protesting US Imperialism or capitalism or whatever by smashing up McDonald’s restaurants owned by local franchise operators or ecological protesters taking out their anger with Shell by picketing individual gas stations. But then I guess a lot of people don’t understand how the franchise system works.

    Regarding rioters who smash locally-owned franchises, I believe the technical term your searching for is morons.

    @ evette

    Other Bill, I worry about you i really do.

    I don’t. I just worry some day he’ll calm down and Whatever will get way less entertaining.


  91. I am stunned reading some of the comments here. A couple of actual true facts – you may remember when we made decisions based on these things instead of on truthiness.
    I) The US has the largest economy in the world, TWICE as big as the #2 economy, China, who as 4 times as many people to divide half that economy between.
    2) The US is the ONLY industrialized nation in the world without some form of universal health care. The result is a shorter life expectancy in the US (and actually getting shorter) a higher infant mortality rate (and actually getting worse) and increasing impact on productivity which leads world health organizations to rate the US 36th.

    So, when you say we can’t afford health care I have to ask, “why do you think that?”. When you claim it will hurt business I have to ask “How do you come to that conclusion?” (facts please save the sermons for Sunday) Particularly since it will impact all similar businesses the same. You want to whine about government intrusion? Great, then explain how you would make the miracle happen without it.

  92. I’m well enough off that I am able to afford to make the effort to purchase products and services that I believe to be ethically sourced, from companies that I believe to be ethically run. And for the most part I do try, although it is often hard to keep track of these things.

    I’m not sure I would call this sort of thing a “boycott”; and I don’t think my choices are going to cause huge multinationals to collapse and/or change their ways, although if enough people go along with it it might. I do think that my choices help in keeping businesses I believe to be more ethical to stay in business, providing jobs and etc etc.

  93. I wonder if these CEO’s believe that these statements will improve business? To my mind, retail food chains only limit their customer base by involving themselves publicly in politics.

    There has been news lately that the Susan G. Koman foundation has has seen a significant decrease in giving after the flap about their defunding Planned Parenthood, and I kind of wonder why this is a surprise? Lots of liberals run in their races, and there are other places to give to support the search for the cancer cure(s). Why would a business or charity risk alienating half their potential customer base in this fashion? In the short term, maybe they will see a bump, but in the long term I think even conservatives would get tired of only eating Papa John’s and Applebee’s.

    Why don’t they STFU and eliminate that risk?

  94. Many comments here asserting that “boycotts are a valid economic tool” or similar. Is there evidence for this when used against a national brand? I can see local boycotts affecting local business, but I doubt the economic impact of something like this on a national scale. It seems to me that boycotts are primarily a PR tool, not an economic one. The impact (such as it is) would be in bad publicity, not in dollars lost.

  95. @Matt O., if bad publicity didn’t have an economic effect, businesses (even national ones) wouldn’t care about it. That’s why, if the local WhateverBurger franchise turns out to be owned by a notorious cat-sodomizer, the national WhateverBurger company reacts rather than blowing it off with “Meh, it’s just a franchisee, don’t blame us.” In the case of boycotts targeted at national companies, boycotts and bad publicity affect not just one franchise, but many of them. If I’m traveling and there’s an Applebee’s nearby (as I type this, I am in walking distance of one), is it likely that I am going to carefully quiz the owner as to whether he shares the CEO’s sentiments? There’s a reason that national companies react to boycotts set off by a franchise-level problem, and vice versa.

  96. Yeah, I remember reading about people boycotting business because of their religion in Germany. My thought is, go ahead don’t eat there if don’t want. There are plenty on the other side of the coin that boycott gay businesses etc and liberals whine, cry and make fun of them for doing it. I think boycotting Applebee’s or Pappa Johns will be met with the same response….

  97. @InDaButt, I assume you’re referring to boycotts of businesses with LGBT-friendly policies, since a) businesses can’t, strictly speaking, be gay and b) “gay businesses” in the sense of businesses targeted at LGBTs probably were never going to appeal to bigot anyway. That said, in the US those boycotts have been directed at companies like Disney, Apple and Microsoft, and liberals vs. conservatives aside, if I were the God of Boycotts, those wouldn’t be my first choice of targets to get the American people behind.

  98. I wouldn’t boycott a business just because the political beliefs of the business owner differ from my own. However, as I have said on my blog, I do think we should boycott businesses that threaten to take negative action against employees based on their desire to put their own profits over the health of their employees.

    Now, if it is possible to point out only particular franchise owners to boycott and that it is not the culture of the entire brand, then by all means we should do so. No need to punish the whole for the actions of a potential few. However, when the owner of Papa John’s threatens to raise the prices of pizza by more than the additional cost of insuring his employees, while still giving a million pizzas away, and while earning huge profits… his businesses should be boycotted. And by all means, if this is a way to also get people to buy local pizza and support local businesses, then that will also be a win for local economies.

  99. @ Matt O. Well, the origin of the word Boycott says yeah, it can be done successfully on both a national and international stage. The brand it originally damaged, and financially drained, was the British Government and subsequent “boycotts” substantially assisted the original campaign aim. “Boycott”-ing is both a financial and political (because when you get down to it, everything is politics) tool from it’s very outset, and a darn successful one.

    The short version of the origin of the word; One Captain Boycott, was imposing unfair terms on his Irish labourers. So he was ostracised and economically isolated in a systematic campaign of social ex-communication (people who got the same treatment afterwards were “Boycotted”, but obviously the word hadn’t been coined when it happened to him) which ultimately ended up with £500ish worth of crops being harvested and transported to market at a cost of between £10,000 and £15,000. Boycott was forced out, the British government embarrassed, and ultimately, better labour terms implemented in Ireland along with the cause of Irish Home Rule being boosted.

    However, do not under-estimate the value of a PR move either, bad PR leads to lower profits, and a harder time recruiting staff. After all who wants to admit they work for a company that has had such bad PR and attitudes that they have led to a “Boycott” situation. Bad PR can damage a brand in all sorts of ways that lead to lower profits, and even destroy a company entirely.

  100. I don’t really even order pizza out anymore. Maybe a few times a year if I want some really good pizza, which is expensive. I’ve found that even not so great run-of-the-mill pizza in my area is a rip. I can’t stomach the fast food level pizza joints (Pizza Hut, Dominos, Papa Johns).

    It is so much cheaper and easy to make pizza at home. I buy ready-made crusts and all the ingredients at the grocery store. Classico and Prego now make some really nice bottled pizza sauces that are reasonably priced. All the other stuff like pepperoni, veggies, cheese, etc. are cheaper to buy at the store. If I buy some peppers and mushrooms at the store, I won’t end up using them all on the pizza and can save them for fajitas or pasta dishes later in the week.

    I have been going back to Applebees more again recently. They have some good boneless wings and reasonably priced meals.

  101. InDaButt says: “There are plenty on the other side of the coin that boycott gay businesses etc and liberals whine, cry and make fun of them for doing it.”

    I don’t recall any crying or whining when NOM demanded that all true Americans boycott Starbucks, Microsoft, Concur, Group Health, Nike, RealNetworks, Vulcan Inc, etc., this past year, because those companies support marriage equality. There was a good deal of laughter and mockery, though, and those boycotts (if anyone even joined) have been completely w/out impact. Several of the “boycotted” companies have seen improved returns, e.g. Starbucks, which just finished a really rockin’ quarter of record profits. Apparently, supporting marriage equality is *excellent* for business.

    Back in the 90s, millions of Americans (including myself, and my entire college) boycotted Coca Cola until the company stopped propping up apartheid in South Africa. A few decades earlier, I was one of millions of children who didn’t eat grapes in solidarity with exploited farm workers. Delano and Coke didn’t laugh; Delano came to terms with the UFW and Coke pulled out of South Africa.

    Boycotts require enough people acting collectively to make a dent. Personally, I believe that if your cause is reasonable and just, a boycott may be effective. If it’s unreasonable and unjust, people will not join in large enough numbers to advance your cause, and your boycott will not be effective. It’s the free market in action, really. Vive la Capitalism; reality has a Liberal bias; happy Monday!

  102. Something I find interesting about this discussion is how neither proponents of health care reform nor opponents ever point to the history of health care reform in San Francisco.

    San Francisco has a law that went into effect in 2008 which requires all for-profit employers in the city with more than 20 employees who work at least 10 hours a week to spend at least $1.17 per hour per employee on health benefits (about $200/employee/month). Employers with more than 100 employees must spend $1.76 per hour (about $300/employee/month).

    Employers can meet the requirement by paying for insurance, paying into medical reimbursement accounts, or paying into the city’s public insurance option.

    When it first went into effect, all of the restaurants in the city had little signs up apologizing for the (modest) price increases they imposed, blaming the increases on the new law. (Other restaurants imposed a specific line-item surcharge on bills, figuring that this would encourage public opposition to the law).

    However, the only analysis of its economic effects I’ve been able to find – – says that the job losses predicted by opponents of the law didn’t materialize, even in the retail and restaurant industries.

  103. On the whole “you are going to bocott a business making them lose revenue and so they will be fired” bit. Demand for the good will remain the same. If I want pizza and wont go to Papa John’s, I will go find some local place. That local place will have an increase in demand for their goods and will hire more people. This will work to offset the losses caused by the boycott.

    Also, I tend to think that a lof of businesses are using Obamacare as an excuse for taking actions they wanted (or needed) to take anyway for other reasons.

  104. Target has been the target (eh) of boycotts from both sides on the LGBT debate. When they donated to MN Forward in 2010, they were boycotted by the LGBT community who didn’t like the politics of Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who was supported by MN Forward. This year there was a call by conservatives to boycott Target because they were selling greeting cards for same sex weddings and T-shirts with Pride themes.

    Not sure how effective either of these boycotts were. (Not even sure the second boycott ever materialized.) The only recent boycott I can remember being effective was the boycott of Susan G. Komen and that probably only worked because it’s easy not to buy pink items or take part in their events.

  105. Billy Quiets: What do you think about the San Francisco experiment?

    I’m a supporter, in general, of Obamacare, although some of the provisions are going to have unintended side effects. I also don’t feel that either Papa John’s or Applebee’s deserves a boycott based on these statements. If they pass costs on to me to pay for health insurance, that’s probably a good thing. Maybe I eat one less piece of pizza a month, saving my waistline, and workers have health insurance. Seems win win to me.

  106. I don’t actually eat at Papa John’s so it doesn’t matter. But as someone who used to work for Star Market a company that always made sure the majority of their employees worked just under 40 hours so that they were PT and therefore did not qualify for benefits, their actions do not surprise me. And as has been stated previously I don’t think this is a new practice on Papa John’s part they are just making it public for what ever reason. And since they seem to be able to afford to give away so many pizzas I doubt they will even notice or care if some people boycott them.

    No I really do not want Other Bill to calm down, I have been very enlightened by previous posts of his and entertained-especially by the last one. I think he understood my response just fine.

  107. What I find offensive is the way this insults my intelligence. If you have a pizza delivery shop, you need, let’s say, 1 cashier, 3 pizza oven guys, and 5 drivers. If you could get by with fewer oven guys and keep up with demand, you would have done that already. Ditto drivers. You don’t keep more people on the clock than you need to run the shift. If you “have to” let a driver go, you annoy customers, you’re not going to do that. If you “have to” raise prices twenty cents, so do Domino’s and Pizza Hut, so it’s not like you’re at a competitive disadvantage. If you fire one of the pizza bakers, your production suffers, and someone else is going to swoop in and pick up those customers, it’s not like opening a pizza delivery shop is prohibitively expensive. Who are these people trying to kid?

  108. As a former driver/lead driver/shift manager for one of those pizza places with the red tops, I award +1 internets to Christy.

  109. @mythago:
    I don’t think we disagree, but I could have said it more clearly. It’s not about the 1,000 sales lost directly to people who refuse patronage, it’s the fear of how the 10,000,000 people who hear about the boycott will respond. It’s the voice of the boycotters that matters, far more than the purchases they were making. This implies two things:
    1) Whether or not you actually frequent the business matters less than whether you are willing to add your voice to the cause. Therefore, to use the example of our esteemed host, the fact that Mr.Scalzi is not near a Papa John’s matters very little, what matters is what he says about them. The Scalzi household is one pizza among many. The Scalzi voice reaches tens of thousands of potential sales. If I wanted a boycott, I would want him on my side whether he eats their pizza or not.
    2) A boycott against someone who is PR-sensitive may be successful with very little actual loss of sales. Conversely, a boycott against someone who doesn’t care what you think of them will probably run out of steam before it has any effect.

    Thanks for the reminder, I had forgotten the historical origin was actually someone’s name.

    Still, I think it is unlikely that a boycott would work in the same way in this context. The threat is to perceived future sales due to bad PR far more than to current actual sales.

    None of which should be taken to mean that I think that a boycott is appropriate here, that it would or wouldn’t work, or that our esteemed host should participate in one either way. He is right that “things are often not as simple as a call for action on Twitter or Facebook can make it seem.”

    Thanks, John, for what you have created here. I appreciate the discourse on these threads; it forces me to refine my thinking even when I don’t weigh in!

  110. mintwitch: exactly my point, the starbucks etc boycotts were mocked and laughed at. Same will be true here as it was with Chick-fil-a. No impact and subject of snickering….

  111. These are some of the things I think…
    Those of you who complain about paying for other people’s health care – you do realize you are already doing that, right? And that it is waaaayyy more expensive than it oughta be. The whole point of the individual mandate is to get everyone into the insurance pool, thus reducing each individual charge. This is the only way to accomplish the goal, since Medicare-for-all is politically impossible, even though it’s actuarily the most efficient way to get it done. Also, will everyone please stop using the words “health care system” when speaking of how things are done in the United States of America? It is soooo not a “system.” And all of it costs more than it should, and we get less for it in terms of outcomes than almost any other industrialized country. I have a good job now, but a few years ago, I did not. I have good insurance now, but I went 5 years with none (as a cancer survivor, no less), and I do wonder what would have happened to me had the cancer returned in the meantime. Yeah, I work hard, and went back to school to get this job, but I know people who work as hard or harder, and cannot get health care. All I want any of y’all “conservatives” to do is tell me – what the hell are those people supposed to do? How on earth can you justify refusing anyone decent health care? You can’t. You just can’t.

  112. @ Frankly

    When you claim it will hurt business I have to ask “How do you come to that conclusion?”

    Any business owner whose employees require even a modest level of training and/or skilled credentials knows that sick employees are unhealthy to the bottom line. When I was in business for myself, finding my employees good health plans was about more than the lure of benefits, it was also about making sure they weren’t out sick or taking care of sick kids on a systemic basis. That’s one reason why I want to see more reform than simply universal coverage. I also want to see effective coverage, which means the healthcare industry itself needs to be reformed, as well as malpractice law, and not only insurance providers.

    Particularly since it will impact all similar businesses the same.

    Well, this is one area where I have to disagree. Few laws impact all businesses the same. Larger firms are able to absorb greater operating overhead than smaller competitors, though some laws are more onerous on larger firms, depending on how they’re crafted.

    @ naath

    I’m not sure I would call this sort of thing a “boycott”; and I don’t think my choices are going to cause huge multinationals to collapse and/or change their ways, although if enough people go along with it it might.

    Bad press is every businessperson’s worst nightmare.

    @ Matt O.

    Is there evidence for this when used against a national brand? I can see local boycotts affecting local business, but I doubt the economic impact of something like this on a national scale. It seems to me that boycotts are primarily a PR tool, not an economic one. The impact (such as it is) would be in bad publicity, not in dollars lost.

    Even setting aside the fact that bad PR is bad business, many of these companies are publically traded or owned by publically traded firms. As an investor, you better believe I watch a company’s public image when deciding whether to buy or sell, because my fellow traders are doing the same thing. Moreover, gross intake and profit margins are two different things, and it’s the latter that determines whether a business stays solvent.

    @ mythago

    That’s why, if the local WhateverBurger franchise turns out to be owned by a notorious cat-sodomizer

    So that’s what’s in the special sauce!

    @ mintwitch

    Several of the “boycotted” companies have seen improved returns, e.g. Starbucks, which just finished a really rockin’ quarter of record profits. Apparently, supporting marriage equality is *excellent* for business.

    I bought my first Starbucks in a decade to show solidarity for their willingness to stand up to the NGAC and Brady Campaign in support of local gun carry laws. Glad to know my buycott supported LGBT rights as well…one of those rare cosmic alignments.

  113. Re: Chick-fil-A. The boycott there is not about franchises, and boycotting even a good one makes sense. The point is that the large corporate owner, who benefits financially from every franchise, takes some of that money and uses it to sponsor legislation that is hateful and bigoted. So, when you spend at a “good” Chick-fil-A, you’re still sending your money to corporate headquarters for ad buys, lobbying money, and assorted hate-filled spending. In this case, I boycott for two reasons. One, so my opinion is heard, and felt, to the extent it can be. Two, so my money is not used to sponsor legislation I find abhorrent.

  114. I spent 16 years in the bar and restaurant business. I think trying to find a way to reduce the hours of your productive employees is not a good way to go about it, as you still need staff to prepare and serve the food and drink. Places like Applebees (I thought they were part of the neighborhood) and Papa John’s (I don’t see they have a revenue problem if they can give away 2 million pizzas and advertise on national television) can easily afford the extra health insurance by raising their prices slightly. When I say slightly, I mean pennies. $.14 per pizza? I doubt it. More like 6 or 7 cents. With Applebees, adding 5-10 cents per menu item would more than cover it. Neither of those increases is enough to cost them any business. Anyone who can afford to go out to Applebees can afford an extra 50 cents on their tab, or anyone who orders a pizza can afford an extra 10 cents. Most customers wouldn’t even notice an increase.
    Smaller places may have more difficulty, but many of those are exempt from the requirement to provide insurance.

  115. I know I’m late in the game, but as a small business owner, I would like to point out that not all businesses are pizza shops; it appears that I may well be able to *hire* an additional person next year due to obamacare. My health insurance+care not covered by insurance is the 2nd biggest expense line item in my sole proprietor budget; it is also the only one of my expenses that is slated to decrease next year.

  116. @Mythago – one note regarding Bob Murray firing workers here in Utah – he lays off around a hundred workers EVERY year at this time, and then hires them back in the Spring. He just likes getting his name in the papers.

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