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This is a rare corporate decision that both the left and the right, Democrats and Republicans, and all red-blooded, pro-business, patriotic Americans should support. Here’s why.
The First Tenet Of Capitalism
In a free society, businesses have a right to create policies that are consistent with their values, as long as those values are themselves consistent with the law. For example, Chik-fil-A restaurants are closed on Sundays. The company’s website explains why:
Our founder, Truett Cathy, made the decision to close on Sundays in 1946 when he opened his first restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia. Having worked seven days a week in restaurants open 24 hours, Truett saw the importance of closing on Sundays so that he and his employees could set aside one day to rest and worship if they choose – a practice we uphold today.”
No one could reasonably claim, “Chil-fil-A has no right to close on Sunday! Where am I supposed to go to get my favorite chicken sandwich to eat while I watch a football game?”
If you want a chicken sandwich on Sunday, there are lots of other places you can go. It won’t be exactly like a Chik-fil-A, but it will probably be good and it will go well with the game.
Consider The Alternative
Imagine a world in which the government told businesses exactly what they can and cannot sell to the public. If you lived in Russia, China or North Korea, that’s the world you’d be living in. Even though each of those countries embraces capitalism to some extent, none goes as far as we do in guaranteeing businesses the freedom to conduct their affairs in ways that are consistent with their values and the law.
This is why Marc Benioff and Keith Block, Salesforce.com’s co-CEOs, are acting in the true spirit of American capitalism. It makes no sense for Mark Oliva, public affairs director of the firearms trade group the National Shooting Sports Foundation, to tell the Post that Salesforce’s new policy discriminates against gun owners.
Gun sellers do not have a right to unfettered access to Salesforce’s CRM, just as you and I have no right to demand that Chik-fil-A serve us chicken sandwiches on Sundays.
Both Parties Should Embrace Salesforce’s Robust Capitalism
Earlier I suggested that both Republicans and Democrats should embrace Salesforce’s new policy. This seems absurd on its face, since the stereotype is that Republicans tend to buy guns in greater numbers than Democrats do and support less restrictive guns laws than Democrats do. How accurate is the stereotype?
A report released in late 2018 by the Pew Research Center discussed Americans’ experiences with and attitude toward guns. Among its seven key findings was this:
A majority of Americans say gun laws should be stricter. Nearly six-in-ten U.S. adults (57%) say gun laws should be more strict, while smaller shares say they are about right (31%) or should be less strict (11%), according to a survey conducted in September and October 2018.
Yet these views differ sharply by party: Eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (80%) say gun laws should be stricter while 28% of Republicans and GOP leaners say the same. For their part, Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to say gun laws are about right (52% vs. 15%) or should be less strict than they are today (20% vs. 4%).”
In other words, the stereotype about how Republicans and Democrats view gun laws is accurate!
But note that I said that right and the left should embrace policies like Salesforce’s, not that they will. It is inconsistent to say that gun shop owners should be free to use Salesforce’s software as they please and that companies like Chik-fil-A should be allowed to honor their corporate values by closing on Sundays. Take your pick: robust American capitalism or limited Russian, Chinese and North Korean capitalism.
Any business that will be affected by Salesforce’s policy on gun sales is free to switch to any of its competitors, such as NetSuite, SAP or Oracle. Having a variety of businesses available to us, and allowing businesses to make decisions consistent with their values, are two crucial freedoms that make this country great.
May 30, 2019 at 09:21PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs