Last night, Expensify CEO David Barrett sent an email urging all their customers to vote for Joe Biden Rick Klau on Twitter “Wow. Just received an extraordinary email from @expensify CEO @dbarrett. I can't remember ever seeing anything even remotely close to it.” twitter.com/rklau/status/1319397164821348357?s=21 . The response was predictably polarizing, with a lot of people arguing that workplaces shouldn’t be politicized Tweet / Twitter twitter.com/danrothschild/status/1319646560607752194?s=21 .
Okay, fine. But if we’re doing this, can we carry it through to the end? Because I can think of a lot of corporate political activism that the people complaining are suspiciously quiet about.
They don’t seem to mind when companies donate thousands of dollars to political campaigns Pinboard on Twitter “Facebook's October FEC filing is up. Together with Google, Facebook controls a duopoly on online political advertising in America. But they also put a thumb on the scale—here's their $2,500 donation to anti-abortion hardliner Jim Risch and $3,500 to Republican senator Joni Ernst” twitter.com/pinboard/status/1318627385655242752?s=21 .
Or when they sign multi-billion dollar contracts with the military Microsoft Wins Pentagon’s $10 Billion JEDI Contract, Thwarting Amazon (Published 2019) Amazon was considered a front-runner for the cloud computing project before President Trump began criticizing the company’s founder, Jeff Bezos. www.nytimes.com/2019/10/25/technology/dod-jedi-contract.html .
Or when they kill taxes that would fund affordable housing How Amazon Helped Kill Seattle a Tax On Business A levy on big companies to fund affordable housing awakened the ire of corporations. www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/06/how-amazon-helped-kill-a-seattle-tax-on-business/562736/ .
Or when they fire employees involved in labor organizing Google’s Alleged Union Busting Is Now Under Federal Investigation The investigation comes after Google fired four employees who were active in labor organizing efforts. www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/12/google-investigation-national-labor-relations-board-union-firings .
Or when they allow politicians to use their premises for propaganda PolitiFact - Did Trump open a 'major Apple Manufacturing plant' in Austin? No. After a brief visit to Austin on Wednesday, President Donald Trump shared a tweet taking credit for opening an Apple Inc www.politifact.com/factchecks/2019/nov/21/donald-trump/did-trump-open-apple-plant-austin-no/ .
No, those are all the acceptable kind of corporate politics. The kind that happens in backrooms and hides away on balance sheets. The kind in which lobbyists scratch the backs of politicians in return for favors that aren’t technically quid pro quo.
The message seems to be that it’s fine when companies try to bend the system to their whims, but how dare they try to impose their politics on me, personally. They can put their thumbs on the scale to fatten their wallets, but they cross a line when they suggest that I might be a bad person.
It’s the same bullshit attitude behind Coinbase’s decision to ban political discussion at work, even though a cryptocurrency exchange is an inherently political business Why Governments Are Wary of Bitcoin Bitcoin is the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network and cryptocurrency. Users (and not central governments or banks) determine its value. They could undermine the role of governments in the financial system. www.investopedia.com/articles/forex/042015/why-governments-are-afraid-bitcoin.asp .
Listen. I get it. You want to be able to work without worrying whether you fall on the wrong side of your employer’s politics. That’s a fair stance to take.
And if you want to fully embrace that stance, more power to you. There are so many instances of private industry cozying up to the government for an unfair advantage. Let’s end lobbying, corporate welfare and police/military contracts. Let’s get rid of revolving doors and regulatory capture. Let’s stop letting companies draft legislation. No more politics in the workplace.
But if your principled opposition begins and ends with someone telling you that a political candidate who has explicitly advocated for voter suppression Opinion | Trump confesses to voter suppression Republicans are firmly opposing free and fair elections — unless they do something about this. www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/13/trump-confesses-voter-supression/ is anti-democratic, then maybe just sit this one out.