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Why #BoycottHawaii Won't Work

Aloha in the Sand

Aloha in the Sand

You mean less than you think.

Ever since a Federal judge in Hawaii ruled to block President Trump's travel ban, people have taken to Twitter announcing their boycott of Hawaii. They hope the boycott hurts the Hawaiian economy to serve as a punishment. It sounds good in theory, but boycotts like these just don't work.

Believe me, I've boycotted many things in my life: America Airlines, LG electronics, Ford cars, AT&T, Walmart, and the list goes on. I won't purchase services/products from these companies anymore due to poor quality or repeated bad experiences with them. Unfortunately, these companies continue to do just fine without the couple hundreds of dollars they're missing out on from me.

But these days individuals are making economic decisions based on their political ties. They are beginning to patronize or boycott entertainers, companies, and now even States depending on their partisan alignment. Most recently, it has happened with Starbucks, Uber, and the New England Patriots. It's your right to do this and I understand the reasoning behind it, just don't expect the boycott to have a real impact.

There are two primary reasons that boycotting isn't as effective as you think it is. First, for every person who boycotts an entity for a political reason, there is another person who patronizes that same entity for the same reason. So since everything tends to go viral these days, the scales of economics mostly balance out in the end.

The second reason boycotts rarely work is lack of sustainability. If the company sells a service/product you weren't going to purchase anyway, then a boycott is meaningless -- in fact, that's not really a boycott. But if a company sells a product that you really want, at some point you'll likely give up on the boycott and buy it anyway. People tend to have pretty short attention spans and at some point you'll move on to some other issue in your life. Anyone remember the Chick-fil-A boycott from several years ago?

For a boycott to be truly effective a company or person would have to do something that upsets nearly everyone (and to the extent that people stop purchasing from them for long periods of time). But politics by nature is polarizing, so at worst they'll only be offending half of the population while gaining patrons from the other half.


The fact is, people and companies do far worse things than take political stances. Many have suspect business practices, mistreat employees, pollute the environment, avoid taxes, embezzle money, or deliver inferior quality to the consumers. These are the things we should be boycotting them for. We should demand that corporations, celebrities, and States be decent, upstanding, and contribute as much to society as they draw from it. Until then, let's boycott all this boycotting over mere politics.

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Big Ed's picture
Big Ed is the Chief Editor for Bigatorial.
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