How To Alienate Your Customers

I’ve always known that Apple was a philosophically ‘liberal’ organization. Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, is decidedly left-wing in his political views, as are many of the other company leaders. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. I have no qualms about buying a product from a company or person with whom I have moral or political disagreements.

Steve Jobs, as an individual, can do whatever he wants with all the money he has made at the helms of Apple and Pixar. But I have an objection to the company putting its money toward political or moral causes—whether I agree or disagree with those causes—except when the company’s core business is directly impacted by government policy. In other words, I’m fine with Chrysler lobbying for or against vehicular safety laws. I’m fine with Google supporting or opposing Net Neutrality legislation. I’m not fine with Apple actively opposing California’s Proposition 8, which would prohibit gay marriage in the state.

I oppose the redefinition of marriage, and I especially oppose it when (like in California) the right to gay marriage is unconstitutionally fabricated by the courts rather than legally redefined by the legislature. But whether I agree or, as in this case, disagree with the political stance taken by a business, I find the idea of businesses engaging in public advocacy on controversial social issues distasteful on either side.

I’m not one to pronounce that I will ‘never buy Apple products again,’ but this is certainly an issue I will have to keep in mind when I consider my next computer purchase. I don’t want my computer purchase money going to political causes, especially ones with which I disagree, and I will have to consider whether Apple’s compelling products are worth more to me than the risk of my dollars potentially working against my beliefs.

Update 10/27/2008: It is worth noting that another major tech firm, Google, also publicly opposes California’s Prop. 8. I am less concerned in Google’s case, since very few individuals ever actually pay Google for anything (they get their money from businesses) and it is a less ‘personal’ affront. I am not directly giving money to a cause I disagree with by using Google services; I am when I buy Apple products.

Scott Bradford has been putting his opinions on his website since 1995—before most people knew what a website was. He has been a professional web developer in the public- and private-sector for over twenty years. He is an independent constitutional conservative who believes in human rights and limited government, and a Catholic Christian whose beliefs are summarized in the Nicene Creed. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University. He loves Pink Floyd and can play the bass guitar . . . sort-of. He’s a husband, pet lover, amateur radio operator, and classic AMC/Jeep enthusiast.