Responsible citizens should be passionately indifferent about for-profit companies unless there is something in it for them. Activism without a quid pro quo…
- …disrupts the free market system’s feedback mechanisms by irrationally rewarding or penalizing companies. This can create undeserving winners and losers. A great example is American automakers, which are still around mainly because of consumers who irrationally ignore better alternatives to almost the entire domestic vehicle lineup.
- …unethically saps resources from charitable nonprofits, which are the only entities that deserve uncompensated activism.
I recently directed my activist zeal towards a for-profit company by publicly and forcefully supporting a developer’s for-profit project, and I did it without violating my ethical code.
How do I justify this undeserved activism? Here’s why:
- Should the project be built, it will increase property values and desirability of my area.
- I get the experience of taking a forceful public position on an issue.
- Someday I may benefit from lessons learned.
- I am exposed to leaders and “the way things worked” in ways otherwise impossible.
- I develop contacts and meet people I would have otherwise never met.
- I was pissed off at reactionary, anti-development zealotry, and this experience was cathartic.
Even though I ended up on the losing team, the experience was worth it.