This is a very interesting news item. A number of pro-gun Georgia lawmakers in effect punished Delta airlines for cutting ties with the National Rifle Association by killing a proposed tax break that would have saved the airline millions of dollars a year. It was a tax break on jet fuel that was extended to Delta, and it was part of a sweeping tax-cut bill that Republicans were about to pass; but after they found out what Delta did to the NRA under politically correct pressure from anti-gun liberals, they amended the tax bill and passed it overwhelmingly without the tax cut extended to Delta. The governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, said that he would sign the bill in whatever form the house and senate came up with.
Now Delta is an Atlanta-based company; it has over 30 thousand employees in Georgia, and the tax break would have been worth close to get this $40 million dollars a year. Now it was actually the Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is the State Senate’s presiding officer, who actually initiated the showdown when he vowed that he would stop any tax break that would benefit this wussy of a business, Delta, for their backing down in standing up for the Second Amendment of the Constitution, cowering to these secular politically correct liberals. Cagle fired the opening shot, as it were, when he tweeted that “Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back!” Amen and amen, God bless Georgia!
Of course, critics of this move by the Georgia legislature warn that it could actually backfire against Georgia’s ability to court businesses to relocate there, particularly in the Atlanta region. For example, Amazon is looking for a second headquarters and Atlanta is at the top of the list.
I think what many of these critics miss is the same thing that Roger Goodell and the NFL missed; they are overlooking the issue of what is involved in doing business in an age of nationalism and populism; it is an issue that is increasingly becoming an important topic of consideration. Already we are seeing prospectuses being published by global financial groups giving advise on how to do business in an age of nationalist populism. Poland is passing legislation that will ban all business activity on Sundays by the year 2020. Russia has already banned what they call homosexual propaganda, such that the band U2’s latest album, which featured two shirtless men hugging each other, was not allowed to be sold in Russia. Of course, those of you who know, the two men hugging each other were father and son, but it really does not matter; just the suggestion of homo-eroticism was enough to get it banned. In India, they are requiring that 30 percent of all products sold have to be manufactured within India. China is requiring computer makers to produce unique CPUs and operating systems to meet their strict cybersecurity standards. We could go on and on. Businesses are having to come to terms with the fact that a new age is rising, and it is a nationalist, populist, traditionalist age that will hold businesses accountable to respecting the norms and sensibilities of that age.
And so, scholars are noticing that one of the key implication for doing business in this age of populism is that businesses have to give much greater consideration to how their actions play out in the public arena, especially with populist leaders. Populist leaders like the Lt Gov in Georgia or our own President Donald Trump are not afraid to call out big businesses when they are seen as turning their backs on the customs and traditions and sacred symbols of a nation. This of course is exactly what happened to Roger Goodell and the NFL, and they paid dearly for it, and continue to pay for it. Now, Delta is paying dearly for it, up to the tune of $40 million dollars a year in squandered tax breaks.
Scholars have recommended that businesses in an age of populism need to take seriously advice from political analysts; in other words, political analysists are going to have to be part of strategic planning, governing, and decisions of any business. This is because populism blurs the line between business and political decisions, and so businesses and financial institutions are going to have to understand that they are political participants whether they like it or not. They have to be very cognizant of the political ramifications of their planning, governance, and decisions. Businesses have to be very conscious of how their actions will be perceived by the wider public and how well those actions mesh with the policies of populist leaders. So, with that said, perhaps boycotting the NRA or the national anthem will work in San Francisco; but there ain’t no way on God’s green earth that such disrespect is going to play in Georgia. This was a BIG blunder on the part of Delta, now that we are in an age of increasingly confident populism, a confidence that has no problem intervening in businesses for nationalist populist purposes.
All of this is to say that big business is going to have to come to terms with doing business in an age of nationalism. They are going to have to take local and national sentiments and strategies in consideration when setting up retail outlets and manufacturing and industry. They are going to have to modify their process of standardization, this one-size-fits-all approach to products and services, both in terms of their production and dissemination. The easiest thing to do of course is to focus on their own domestic markets, to figure out ways of generating new growth within their existing customer base, which of course involves reimagining how to bring more value to the lives of their customers. But in the process, even here, businesses have to be very cognizant about the public perception of their planning, governance, and decisions, what I think we should call the Roger Goodell rule, or the NFL rule, -- make sure you do not offend the nation’s customs and traditions that become such objects of celebration in a nationalist populist age.
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