10 March 2012

Is GM Part of a Left-Wing Jihad? Is GEICO? Or is this just Capitalism at Work?

Oh, how delicious is this report at The Daily Beast? It seems those dastardly capitalists are out there trying to censor the speech of reactionary blowhards like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage etc., etc. etc. . . . The capitalists, in large numbers, are withdrawing advertising support from the right wing talkers.

Apparently, the right-wing is desperately trying to depict this as a 'left-wing jihad' against conservative talk radio. But for cryin' out loud, how hard to you have to squint to make General Motors appear either left-wing or jihadist? Does conservative paranoia know no bounds? Well, of course, GM did take the bailout money. Perhaps there was a secret clause in the deal they struck with the Obama-ites that compels the company to find an excuse - any excuse - to withdraw advertising dollars from Rush and the seven dwarfs? What about GEICO? Maybe the dreaded EPA plans to remove Geckos from the endangered species list? OK! OK! Never mind!

Perhaps it simply is the case that capitalists try not to go really, really far out of the way to belittle and insult a significant segment of their potential customer base. Self-interest does not mix well with passions like, say, bigotry or blind hatred. (Nerd alert: On this I recommend an oldish essay by Stephen Holmes called "The Secret History of Self-Interest.") That doesn't mean that capitalist firms always successfully avoid acting on such bases. But this is a pretty easy case.

Make the inference. Lots and lots of women use birth control or have sisters, friends, daughters, nieces, granddaughters, who do. Even if Rush, et. al. now grasp that publicly calling all those women sluts and whores for doing so and for expecting third party insurance to cover the cost, we can plausibly suspect that the boys still think that way. Women of childbearing age and older are a big market (see The Beast report for figures). You are the decider in some firm (say GEICO) and you want to sell stuff to that market segment. Are you going to create even the appearance of supporting sexist blowhards who consider your potential customers to be sluts and whores? Isn't capitalism terrific?

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