BLM's corporate extortion

As Black Lives Matter (BLM) riots ransacked brick-and-mortar businesses over the summer, publicly traded companies, especially retail, began ponying up tremendous sums of money to BLM-affiliated organizations.  The staggering sums promised by Walmart, Target, Nike, McDonald's, and others might be dismissed as a marketing stunt in a different context, but the size and timing of the donations suggests something more sinister.

These corporations have tremendous presence in black communities and are in close proximity to the riots.  Their exposure is not limited to physical assets that might be looted or damaged; brands themselves may suffer reputational damage.  After a black drunk driver who pointed a stolen taser at a police officer was shot dead in a Wendy's parking lot, the restaurant was set ablaze in retaliation.  Wendy's, its logo in the frame of every photo of the incident, loudly announced a $500,000 donation to social justice causes and affirmed its support for the BLM movement.

Corporations are making these donations as protection money, hoping to bribe officials of BLM-affiliated organizations into steering the mob away from their store. The BLM mobs are far from organic; they are well funded corporate entities plucked off the shelf and filled with professional activists to run them.  These activists use their platform to target other corporations with exposure to the riots and pressure them into making donations.  Corporations are quick to pick up on the implied threat and immediately capitulate, handing money to their extortionists.

This dynamic even plays out for small businesses.  After bearing witness to mass looting and vandalism, neighboring small businesses began to genuflect, painting their storefronts in BLM paraphernalia and praying for the angel of death to pass over them.  It would seldom work, as individual rioters proved to be just as tribute hungry as their professional organizations.  One Black Lives Matter activist, Devonere Johnson, received a federal criminal complaint for extorting businesses in downtown Madison, Wisconsin.  Johnson had told business-owners that the BLM mob would attack their stores unless they paid him off.  Unlike George Soros's BLM affiliate organizations, Johnson's extortion racket was explicit and did not have the prepaid protection that comes with having a billionaire Democratic donor as a patron.

BLM may be the latest and greatest corporate extortion racket, but this game is nothing new.  After Hallmark cut an ad campaign featuring a lesbian "wedding" in December 2019, LGBT pressure groups began churning out anti-Hallmark propaganda, relenting only after Hallmark made a substantial donation to GLAAD, an LGBT pressure group.  Similarly, Jesse Jackson threatened to smear Toyota as racist and hold demonstrations unless the company donated to his Rainbow Coalition organization.  These high-profile extortions are just the tip of the iceberg; there are countless low-profile extortions made by politicians, petty regulators, and activists.  The New York Times opined in 2018 that corporate philanthropy is largely backdoor political lobbying, citing a study that seemingly proved just that.  Even Donald Trump, during his career as a New York real estate developer, found it impossible to do business without letting local Democratic party officials wet their noses first.  Browsing the donor lists of politicians in every major city will tell the same story.  Americans wondering why their country is under attack should know that their companies are unwilling financiers of the anti-American revolution.

The proliferation and normalization of corporate extortion by the political class must end.  Fortunately, the solution is not complex: every business entity should be banned from donating to nonprofit organizations and sending money to for-profit organizations unless the payment is in exchange for goods and services of demonstrable value to the company.

This solution is not a business regulation, but instead a confirmation of the property rights of business-owners.  Corporate shareholders are the ones footing the bill when their earnings are given away by a CEO, despite having little say in the decision.  Although a CEO could theoretically acquire the unanimous consent of shareholders before donating to a nonprofit, there is no advantage to a corporation donating to charity in the stead of an individual.  Companies are not suitable as payment gateways for charities, and the ability of corporate officers to give away monies belonging to shareholders is a conflict of interest.

Unfortunately, barring corporate cash giveaways would be an uphill political battle, as such a rule would hammer away at the ability of politicians to browbeat companies for campaign contributions.  It is equally unlikely that political pressure groups would sign on, their very existence likely depending on the practice.  However, such a rule may not require legislation.  A few well placed constitutionalist judges familiar with common law tradition and property rights could rule that corporate managers have no right to give away property that does not belong to them.  It seems common sense that an employee, even a CEO, does not have the right to ransack a business to suit his ideological persuasion or pay off racketeers.  Until those in power see it this way, mobs, politicians, and other extortionists will continue their corporate-funded attacks on America.

Image credit: Pixabay public domain.

As Black Lives Matter (BLM) riots ransacked brick-and-mortar businesses over the summer, publicly traded companies, especially retail, began ponying up tremendous sums of money to BLM-affiliated organizations.  The staggering sums promised by Walmart, Target, Nike, McDonald's, and others might be dismissed as a marketing stunt in a different context, but the size and timing of the donations suggests something more sinister.

These corporations have tremendous presence in black communities and are in close proximity to the riots.  Their exposure is not limited to physical assets that might be looted or damaged; brands themselves may suffer reputational damage.  After a black drunk driver who pointed a stolen taser at a police officer was shot dead in a Wendy's parking lot, the restaurant was set ablaze in retaliation.  Wendy's, its logo in the frame of every photo of the incident, loudly announced a $500,000 donation to social justice causes and affirmed its support for the BLM movement.

Corporations are making these donations as protection money, hoping to bribe officials of BLM-affiliated organizations into steering the mob away from their store. The BLM mobs are far from organic; they are well funded corporate entities plucked off the shelf and filled with professional activists to run them.  These activists use their platform to target other corporations with exposure to the riots and pressure them into making donations.  Corporations are quick to pick up on the implied threat and immediately capitulate, handing money to their extortionists.

This dynamic even plays out for small businesses.  After bearing witness to mass looting and vandalism, neighboring small businesses began to genuflect, painting their storefronts in BLM paraphernalia and praying for the angel of death to pass over them.  It would seldom work, as individual rioters proved to be just as tribute hungry as their professional organizations.  One Black Lives Matter activist, Devonere Johnson, received a federal criminal complaint for extorting businesses in downtown Madison, Wisconsin.  Johnson had told business-owners that the BLM mob would attack their stores unless they paid him off.  Unlike George Soros's BLM affiliate organizations, Johnson's extortion racket was explicit and did not have the prepaid protection that comes with having a billionaire Democratic donor as a patron.

BLM may be the latest and greatest corporate extortion racket, but this game is nothing new.  After Hallmark cut an ad campaign featuring a lesbian "wedding" in December 2019, LGBT pressure groups began churning out anti-Hallmark propaganda, relenting only after Hallmark made a substantial donation to GLAAD, an LGBT pressure group.  Similarly, Jesse Jackson threatened to smear Toyota as racist and hold demonstrations unless the company donated to his Rainbow Coalition organization.  These high-profile extortions are just the tip of the iceberg; there are countless low-profile extortions made by politicians, petty regulators, and activists.  The New York Times opined in 2018 that corporate philanthropy is largely backdoor political lobbying, citing a study that seemingly proved just that.  Even Donald Trump, during his career as a New York real estate developer, found it impossible to do business without letting local Democratic party officials wet their noses first.  Browsing the donor lists of politicians in every major city will tell the same story.  Americans wondering why their country is under attack should know that their companies are unwilling financiers of the anti-American revolution.

The proliferation and normalization of corporate extortion by the political class must end.  Fortunately, the solution is not complex: every business entity should be banned from donating to nonprofit organizations and sending money to for-profit organizations unless the payment is in exchange for goods and services of demonstrable value to the company.

This solution is not a business regulation, but instead a confirmation of the property rights of business-owners.  Corporate shareholders are the ones footing the bill when their earnings are given away by a CEO, despite having little say in the decision.  Although a CEO could theoretically acquire the unanimous consent of shareholders before donating to a nonprofit, there is no advantage to a corporation donating to charity in the stead of an individual.  Companies are not suitable as payment gateways for charities, and the ability of corporate officers to give away monies belonging to shareholders is a conflict of interest.

Unfortunately, barring corporate cash giveaways would be an uphill political battle, as such a rule would hammer away at the ability of politicians to browbeat companies for campaign contributions.  It is equally unlikely that political pressure groups would sign on, their very existence likely depending on the practice.  However, such a rule may not require legislation.  A few well placed constitutionalist judges familiar with common law tradition and property rights could rule that corporate managers have no right to give away property that does not belong to them.  It seems common sense that an employee, even a CEO, does not have the right to ransack a business to suit his ideological persuasion or pay off racketeers.  Until those in power see it this way, mobs, politicians, and other extortionists will continue their corporate-funded attacks on America.

Image credit: Pixabay public domain.