Over 10 years ago, I debated with left-leaning friends about the ethics of purchasing products from Oberweis Dairy, a company owned by a family whose political opinions some of us considered unacceptable. At that time, an Oberweis was running for Senate.
I've always liked Oberweis products and my feeling remains that if the food is good, I'm going to shop there.
I'm not saying that I'd drink at the Herman Goering Brewery and Bath House, but generally considered, if you start taking into account all kinds of disagreeable personal issues related to store owners, then you might not shop anywhere ever again. Still, there are limits.
Hobby Lobby is now in the news as a result of the SCOTUS ruling that allows them to avoid covering certain kinds of contraceptives for their employees. This ruling raises important questions about the limits of an employer's power over employee lives, reproductive rights, separation of church-state, and other big issues. I do believe, along with dissenting Justice Ginsburg, that the court is "stepping into a minefield" with this ruling. I mean, where does it end? Will I patronize Hobby Lobby? Well, I never have and I don't even know where their nearest store is located, so I guess I'll confront that issue in the unlikely event I ever have to buy something at that store.
Walgreens, however, is a different issue. The company has been a client of mine, and I've written a corporate video history for them, patronized one of their Oak Park locations at least once per week and enjoyed a good run as a shareholder of the company (I've since divested). I think it's kind of awesome that at some of their stores, they're trying to upgrade their image by offering sushi (which seems on the face of it kind of laughable, though there's no reason why, with good sources and a qualified in-store sushi chef – which they have – they can't turn out good fish and rice snacks).
However, my generally high opinion of Walgreens has been tarnished. This Illinois company's threat to move overseas to avoid American taxation [http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/06/30/renouncing-corporate-citizenship/] strikes me as unseemly, kind of slimy, and just plain wrong.
I'm fine with patronizing a store even when the owner's political opinions may be diametrically opposed to mine. Difference of opinion, compromise, and getting along with those we politically oppose is part of living in the U.S. A.
But if Walgreens, a company that grew and prospered in the United States, leaves for the sole purpose of increasing shareholder value, well, I doubt I'll be the only one who will start shopping at CVS. If we're lucky, maybe someday CVS, will even start offering sushi.
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