Service of Buying on Principle

April 23rd, 2012

Categories: Economy, Full Disclosure, Government, Indifference, Let Bygones be Bygones, Passivity, Principles, Tradition

The other week, NYC introduced its “Taxi of Tomorrow” and public advocate Bill de Blasio [Photo right, below] howled. I heard him talk about the city’s choice of foreign partner on the radio and on his website he noted that the billion dollar contract for “the exclusive right to manufacture New York’s taxis” is going to a business that operates in Iran. It’s one of a dozen car companies on de Blasio’s “Iran Watch List” that “targets businesses that operate in Iran and undermine economic sanctions.”

The website quotes de Blasio: “You cannot do business with the people of New York City with one hand, and prop up the dangerous regime in Tehran with the other. For our billion dollars, taxpayers and taxi riders deserve a guarantee that ____ will stop selling its vehicles to Iran.” I put the space in the quote although de Blasio identifies the company on his blog.

When I’ve met investment advisors, they’ve asked me if there are any companies or industries I wouldn’t want to support. It’s a good question for many reasons. Some might forget and inadvertantly invest in–and be accused of insider trading–stock in a company the firm they work for advises. Cigarette or arms manufacturers might be on the “no” list for others.

There’s a side issue to de Blasio’s point that’s worth a mention even if off-topic. I identified the car manufacturer to a friend who observed: “Why didn’t the city pick an American brand?” As I began to write I also remembered a buy American initiative where participating manufacturers hung the red, white and blue “Made in America” tag with logo on clothing, appliances and other products. Would this be unfitting today?

In wartime, many won’t buy anything made by their enemy. Some have longer memories than others and children often keep up their parents’ boycotts. Is such a consideration anti-business and therefore inappropriate in a tight economy? Or do we have no enemies?

Are there things you won’t invest in, buy, attend or support on principle, or is such thinking so yesterday?

8 Responses to “Service of Buying on Principle”

  1. ASK Said:

    It’s not so yesterday at all…I will not buy the products of at least three companies I can think of; some of my reasons are rational, others are not, which is why I’m not citing the companies or the products.

  2. DManzaluni Said:

    Yes, I agree with you of course on boycotts, and especially political ones; but mine tend to be more personal:I refuse to do business with a company which patronises me or shouts at me to do business with them, eg by arranging for their ads to be so annoyingly repetitive and at higher volume than the program which I am trying to concentrate on while I am watching television. I am sad to note that the recent legislation to prevent this does not seem to have worked, – pretty much as soon as SOME companies noticed that there doesn’t appear to be anyone to enforce it.

    We pride ourselves on how quickly anyone in our family can hit the mute button when an ad is known to be annoying and I change channels immediately I see any ad repeated more than once in any segment or one that is trying to play on my sub-conscious.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I am glad that you have either solid or emotional reasons for not buying certain brands–so do I– and that you don’t feel that buying on principle is yesterday.

    A major brand treated one of my parents shabbily eons ago and I won’t go near the place. Rational? No. But I don’t want to support the place and it feels good not to.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I listen to more radio than most and go nuts when I hear the same advert everywhere I turn–multiple times on one station during one program and then on others as well. Good idea to retaliate by refusing to patronize.

    One of the remotes to a TV at our home doesn’t moderate the volume anymore. I suppose it’s good exercise, but I find myself jumping up and down as much as always to cut the volume on ads that blare.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    I do not participate in boycotts since all they do is hurt the poorest workers, and not those at the top of the hate list. If anyone thinks for one second, that by not buying Iranian made cabs, they are harming the real culprits, they dream.

    On the other hand, what has happened to manufacturing in the US? Are we not capable of creating an equally good or better vehicle? If not, why not? What happened to all our factories, which at one time provided thousands of jobs for workers now out on the streets?

    Boycotting does little more than needlessly make more enemies along with adding stress for innocent and already overburdened people, so I am all for the purchase of the cabs. However, the next step is to increase our own ability to produce, on the premise that charity begins at home. We too should put ourselves in a position to enter the competition lest we become a nation of huge corporations, hedge funders and other nonessentials facing increasing crowds of the unemployed and poor on the other side of the fence. If that doesn’t worry anybody, think Middle East.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    The cabs are not made by an Iranian company but a foreign company that does business with Iran which was what de Blasio objected to. Sorry I wasn’t clear.

    Years ago, the price of beef hit the roof so I didn’t buy any for a month, partly because it didn’t fit the budget but also, so as to join others who didn’t buy any either over those 30 days. The price went to and stayed at a more palatable level for years. Everyone down the line had to adjust their charges. It will be interesting to see when gasoline prices begin to break consumers’ backs and what we do about it. So far: Nothing.

    I think that unions protect automotive workers who are known for lucrative hourly wages, retirement and health plans–here at least. Some foreign automotive companies do some of the work here–I don’t know if it is the case with this company.

  7. Simon Carr Said:

    A long time ago during another boycott of Iran, I was part of a small group that attended a Foreign Policy Association luncheon briefing on the country. At it was the future chairman of Coca Cola, Roberto Goizueta, who told us there was no way the U.S. Government could stop Persians from drinking Coca Cola even if they closed down the U.S. company, and he explained why. Boycotts don’t work in a democratic world with surprisingly free trade.

    For my own part, I’ve avoided nationally branded chain stores and chain restaurants for decades as a matter of principle. It has done no good. They are vastly more powerful today than were when I first started disliking them.

    Incidentally, I don’t like the new taxi either, because they are badly designed, not because the are sold in Iran.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Thanks, Simon,

    I don’t know that the taxi is sold in Iran, only that the company that makes the taxi does business in that country.

    I also haven’t tried sitting in the taxi that was just introduced, though I’ve tried to get in and out of some of the new cabs. I am about 5′ 6″ and find that there is no room to spare between me and the front seat. How anyone much taller than I am can fit in these cabs without his/her knees piercing through to the front seat is a mystery. The only other option would be to stretch their legs to the other side of the cab [which means nobody else can ride with them in the back seat]. How to get in and out from this position seems impossible. Who designed and approved these things?

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