Trump Tweeted Support for L.L. Bean
President-elect Donald Trump endorsed L.L. Bean and its heiress Linda Bean, who sits on the Board of Directors.
Taking a break from his ‘BIG BORDER TAX’ threats to auto companies, Mr. Trump's ringing endorsement behind the outdoor apparel company still drew immediate criticism and calls for boycotts.
Prior to the president-elect’s tweet, Ms. Bean made large donations to a political action committee (PAC) that supported Mr. Trump’s campaign.
It seems the donations exceeded the allowable amount for individuals because of how the PAC was structured. So-called ‘Super PACS’, by comparison, have no such contribution limits.
The boycott threat prompted Mr. Trump’s aforementioned tweet.
Rare and Highly Unusual?
According to The New York Times, such a full-throated endorsement is “a rare and highly unusual step for someone elected to the nation’s highest office.”
The Times' assertion is bizarre considering that many previous administrations, including President Obama’s, supported corporate welfare (also known as cronyism) in one form or another with the help of congress.
Cronyism is not exclusive to Republicans or Democrats in Washington because the system relies on kickbacks. There is no 'endorsement' better than handing out other people's money legally.
President Obama, in particular, made an act of cronyism (the 2009 auto bailout) a cornerstone of his reelection campaign.
President Bush ‘abandoned [his] free-market principles’ to do the same thing near the end of his term.
Vice-President Biden, last-minute Medal of Freedom recipient, memorably proclaimed at the 2012 Democratic National Convention,
“Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive!”
When that line was shouted across America, I’m sure executives and employees of Toyota thought, “Hey, we’re alive too you know...and we pay our bills.” (Well, not just Toyota, but most everybody who were not bailed out probably thought that.)
Neither the current president nor the vice president to my knowledge ever tweeted, “Go buy a Chevy!” However, any true free-market proponent should favor that simple testimonial over a multi-billion dollar bailout at taxpayer expense.
Endorsements and Boycotts are Staples of a Free Society
Donald Trump exercised his freedom of speech to promote a business using no coercion (at least for now). As such, it is perfectly reasonable for his opponents to protest, in the form of a boycott, any organization associated with him.
The reason this is acceptable from a free-market perspective, is that both sides acted in a voluntary capacity.
If the actions involved coercion (e.g. picketers block a retail store entrance or the president-elect threatens a ‘BIG BORDER TAX’ on L.L. Bean rival Eddie Bauer), then that of course is not acceptable.
The boycott is a staple of a market economy and allows individuals to exercise their natural freedoms of association and speech. Whether or not the boycott has a morally correct premise is irrelevant from a lawful perspective.
In a free society, we could vote with our dollars, tweet praises to companies we like, and choose not to bake Nazi wedding cakes (Bonus points to anybody who gets that reference without clicking the link).
• Ford Motors Invests in U.S. Jobs Amid Trump’s Attacks
• Trump Selects Wrestling Magnate Linda McMahon to Lead Small Business Administration
• Unclear on Economic Sanctions, Tillerson Could Strengthen U.S.-Foreign Business Relations