Monday, August 13, 2007

On Appeasing Boycotters

From time to time I get threatened with the dreaded B word. B stands for boycott. And so it is again. First time blogger "Lisa" has declared that she will no longer patronize my business. I am highly suspicious of this "Lisa" and would not be the least bit surprised to discover that "she" is someone not enamored with my political persuasion, and is using the boycott threat in an effort to muzzle me. It won't work.

At any rate, "Lisa" apparently believes that I am not sufficiently concerned about poverty. I can understand "her" conclusion to a point, as I have written that I do not think about the plight of the workers who produce the products that I buy. I went on to explain that to do so would be impossible. How many workers from how many countries, for example, do you think contribute to the production and distribution my box of Roundy's Pancake and Waffle Mix? Where do they get Aluminum Sulfate from? Are the Aluminum Sulfite workers properly compensated? Are the folks who produce Thiamine Mononitrate earning a living wage? Do Niacin producers have a decent health care plan?

Thankfully I am not burdened by these questions every time I purchase something. The reason is not that I don't care, but that I believe, after much consideration, that people are generally better off if they are able to sell their legitimate products and services freely than they would be if their production and distribution were overseen by "Lisa" or other elites that think they are smarter or more compassionate than you. Thus I am reasonably assured that Niacin producers, though they may not have an adequate health care plan, are marginally better off if I buy their product than if I don't. Thus purchases off all types are not guilt inducing experiences for me.

But alas, this is not the main point of this blog. I wonder what "Lisa" expects of me. Does "she" wish that I would substitute my judgement and thoughts for hers in order to make money? Must my thoughts and beliefs be calculated purely for profit maximization? What would I do if two customers held fervently opposite viewpoints on an important issue? Do I side with the one who spends more money at my business? What would I become if my every thought and action were calculated to please the maximum number of customers?

The very thought of whoring my mind and soul to the highest bidder just sickens me. It is not going to happen "Lisa".


Caledonication said...

Where did "Lisa" make this declaration? I'm guessing by your post that she just started her own blog and boycotting you is the first subject?

Denis Navratil said...

Several blog entries ago. The post is called "What Would Michael Webber Do?"

Caledonication said...

**Hmm, I missed that one.**

When someone (like “Lisa”) says they are going to boycott your business, I’m sure it strikes a nerve. I mean, it would be hard not to take it at least a little bit personally. Have you not invested “yourself” into this business? I think you waste too much time on her though. You explained yourself completely, opened it up for discussion and there was no response whatsoever. The last part where she says, “I will encourage others that care about poverty issues not to shop at Dimples any more either”, is a personal attack and nothing more. This type of ranting is typical of someone who has a lot of pent up frustration and wants to take it out on someone. I see this type of thing regularly on support forums. She knows that her complaint is weak and tries to puff up her influence from one person “who was put off” to “anyone who cares about poverty”. By not following up, Lisa (and Webber) show even less credibility, than someone posting anonymously.

Caledonia Unplugged said...

"What would I become if my every thought and action were calculated to please the maximum number of customers?"...a politician?

Caledonia Unplugged said...

As you'll notice my previous post is making light of the issue - purposely! My attitude toward your concern about lisa is the same attitude you should have about her threatened boycott. Don't take it personally or seriously.

Caledonication said...

Caledonia Unplugged - Funny you mentioned "...a politician?”. I had the exact same thought when Denis talked about pleasing the maximum number of people. I guess Denis' values are more important to him than the "possibility" that he may have caused a knee-jerk reaction by someone pretending to care.

eric said...

Sounds like the Caledonia Bros have called this one - Lisa made a shallow threat.

Two things strike me:

1) Current day discourse discourages respectful exchanges. More and more people seem to want their positions to be mutually exclusive, quickly falling into name calling, or in this case threatening a boycott. How do we get to that situation so quickly?

2) The original post referred to the source of trade goods and the conditions of the workers at the source of the goods.
a) My anecdotal personal experiences with "sweat shops" in Asia were that many were small family run businesses - the families were happily in said businesses which had improved their lives. I am sure there are many places in the developing world that experience worker abuses as they pass through their own industrial revolution, just as we did, but to broad brush all these workers as abused is inconsistent with what I've seen, and to insist their regions quickly go from third-world standards to developed nations' standards is incongruent with social/economic history.

b) The global economy has been evolving for a long time. I can buy all my pizzas and kringles from the pizzeria and bakery closest to my house. Of course they may not taste as good or have as good a price as those on the other side of town (I too am a Caledonian, but I guess using the anti-global logic, no more Wells Bros for me). Then there's this whole problem of where are the pizza and kringle ingredients coming from, and how the workers are treated there. Autos are another good example. Many so called "foreign" cars are now assembled by American workers, and the majority of parts in these cars are made in the USA. What's more, as I look at American pension funds, mutual funds, etc I find that Americans own shares and profit from these "foreign" companies. When America was a developing nation did we care that we were putting European workers out of jobs? Did it take us a while to improve working conditions? The global economy has been with us and evolving for a long time. Live with it, participate, continually educate yourself and we all benefit.

Boycott ‘Dimples’ and you potentially hurt the co-owners and workers who may not share Denis' position/opinion, and many of Dimple’s suppliers who are likely good hard working people. How did Lisa go so quickly from disagreeing with Denis, to boycotting his shop and all others be damned? As others have remarked, it’s likely an idle threat from a position of weakness, by why so often today do we hastily find ourselves locked in vitriol?

Caledonication said...

Eric, I'll take a shot at answering that question. The reason why many people today go from a “walk in the park” to “death-match” or as I like to say “zero to one-hundred”, is because they are not prepared physically, psychologically, emotionally, intellectually, financially, etc. Take your pick, as long as you apply the “they are not prepared” idea to the situation. Being prepared gives you options. You could also call it having freedom of movement or responding instead of reacting. I take this philosophy from my martial arts training. I’ll (try to) give some examples.

If someone is threatened and is not prepared physically or psychologically, they have fewer options to address the conflict. If they can’t run fast enough to get away or if they can’t overpower the threat, they may have no other choice than to shoot the threat. Shooting the threat may actually be the only option, but in many cases it probably is not the only option; if one is prepared. Walking away (if possible) would be the first option they would want to choose. It is the easiest and has the least repercussions. Shooting a threat (if necessary) would be the last option they would want to choose. This option would (hopefully) be the most difficult, as this has the greatest repercussions. By being prepared, a whole world of possibilities and opportunities open up; from running away to knocking the threat unconscious and “everything” in between. This freedom actually assists in your ability to help (and protect) yourself and others (including the original threat).

Let’s take this model and apply it to a different kind of threat, a perceived threat, perhaps a conflict with someone’s ideology or belief system. One could walk away. One could also stick around and discuss it. However, if the one who feels threatened is not prepared for the debate or to answer any questions, they have fewer options; or to put it another way, a narrower view of the big picture. They don’t get it. They can’t see the forest for the trees. Their argument becomes its own obstruction. They can no longer freely express their opinion. At that point the responses, if they haven’t already walked away, turn into reactive personal attacks. Ultimately, they can’t help themselves; or anyone else for that matter.

(Getting a bit away from where I’ve been going with this.)
This concept can go many levels. For example, you could apply it to internal, personal conflicts one might have, resulting in guilt, shame and fear. These can manifest the two extremes, as well. One could be paralyzed by their fear (phobia) or freak-out (mania) on anyone they meet. They are literally disabled. But when prepared though education, counseling and possibly medication, the individual is most likely equipped with the necessary tools to mesh with the rest of society.

Aaron Robertson said...

Hi Denis,

I am a blogger and the VP of Marketing at the political/social debate site

We enjoy your site a lot and were wondering if you could add us to your Links list.

Our site is owned and operated by Milwaukee-area college students and recent grads, and we cover a wide array of topics, mostly national and international.

I’m sorry to contact you through one of your posts, but I couldn't find any contact info to privately e-mail you.


Aaron Robertson

Denis Navratil said...

I just got back from a three day non-boycotted sales event and what a pleasure it was to read the many insightful comments that you offered. Caledon and Calunp, I also thought politician as soon as I wrote those words.

And Aaron, I am flattered that you enjoy my site. I will be checking out yours as well. Re links, at this time I must admit I don't have a clue as to how to add links. I will be working on that when I take up a fellow blogger on her offer to teach me some new tricks. So don't take it personally if you don't see your sight linked to mine. Thanks.

Caledonication said...

Good to hear you're back. I was beginning to think you were boycotting your readers! ;-)