Dearest Rachel –
As if politics weren’t meaningless to you where you are, I feel the need to talk with you this morning about our portfolio. Believe me, I get that this is literally of no value to you, but it’s been keeping me awake at night from time to time. And it’s not even that I’m worried about our investments, per se – we’re doing all right, and if your folks are indeed up there, thank them for Daniel and me – but I’d just as soon invest this money responsibly. Unfortunately, that seems to mean something completely different to me as to the rest of the financial world.
When we were finally able to invest as we saw fit, you tend to agree with me and my dad’s philosophy of investment: if you like the company, you’ll like the stock. The theory behind it is that, if you were an enthusiastic customer of their goods and/or service, you could reasonably consider yourself representative of the population at large, suggesting that said company was doing something right, and thus would be worth investing in. If nothing else, we would be getting some of our money back that we spent on the companies products and services in the form of dividends and stock growth.
However, we were also recommended certain companies by our broker whose philosophy didn’t necessarily mesh with ours (the companies’, not our broker – he was an enthusiastic supporter of our attitude toward the companies we had chosen. He was merely pointing out to us certain thriving options we hadn’t considered or weren’t aware of). You see, the business of business should be business, but that isn’t universally held. Certain companies hold certain political positions, it would seem, some of which are quite anathema to us. This situation has accelerated since the beginning of the pandemic, and the ‘mostly peaceful protests’ that occurred during it in the aftermath of the martyrdom and canonization of the most holy Saint George Floyd; a philosophy referred to as ‘wokeness,’ wherein every previously marginalized identity group is imputed virtue solely by dint of having been marginalized, rather than any actual intrinsic virtue in and of themselves.
This, of course, runs counter to our own beliefs, and in fact oozes loathing towards us, since there is almost nothing about us that could be considered part of any marginalized identity group (other than the fact that you were female, but, being white, cisgender, and heteronormative – to say nothing of being of the prevailing majority faith, and relatively well off – you were still pretty much to be considered a member of the ‘oppressor’ class, and thus to be despised and shunned). The realization of this philosophy espoused by the riots (and the organization behind them – while the name sounded noble and indisputable, their goals and tactics we all agreed to be despicable) was the tipping point that turned you in Daniel towards conservatism, even more so than me, rather to my amusement. It would seem logical that we ought not to support companies that supported this philosophy.
And yet, despite the fact that the law considers corporations to be individuals in their own right, the fact of the matter is that they are not human, and are not necessarily subject to the strictures of humanity. They do not have souls or consciences; their only concern is to make money by producing something that people want. With that in mind, there are certain companies that are indeed woke companies (which is to say, they are run by woke folks), making woke products for other woke folks. Lululemon, for instance, sells hundred-plus dollar yoga pants to unfulfilled wine-drinking soccer moms, who squeeze into them and are reminded how much more exercise they need to do in order for their men to pay attention to them. Starbucks sells bitter, overpriced coffee too bitter, over-caffeinated screenwriters trying to ‘inject queerness wherever [they] can’ in their next project. Nike had inked a deal to sell shoes with an overtly satanic theme – complete with a drop of a certain proudly gay rapper’s blood infused into each pair – for $666 each (I couldn’t make this up – who’d believe me – although I may be fuzzy on the details), until there were some legal issues regarding the product, and they had to scrap it, but they had a waiting list of pre-orders, even at that ridiculous – and ridiculously symbolic – price. My point is, there are certain companies that make bank off of their woke customers, and I see nothing wrong with taking their money if they’re going to be like this. These people and these companies deserve each other, and there’s no harm in us making a profit off of them, as those become dollars taken from the sole and given to us ‘based’ folk.
However, there is now afoot a major corporation that has decided to cater to the ‘woke,’ who doesn’t seem to realize that those folks are not their main customers. You can probably guess from the title what company I’m referring to. They produce generally family-friendly entertainment, hewing to the ratings strictures of the MPAA, and yet, they appear to be taking umbrage to a certain state requiring a certain level of age-appropriateness to certain topics within the school classroom. They have apparently all but declared war on the state over this new law, and the state appears to be willing to respond in kind, which, given certain special carve-outs made in the past for this company in the state (they are, in fact, the state’s largest employer) that might be rescinded, could have far-reaching consequences.
The difference between Disney and the other companies that I’ve mentioned, is that their clientele tends to be made up primarily of families. Nuclear, cisgender, heteronormative families. Not exclusively, of course, but they make up far more than a majority. For them to label this many of their customers as ‘the enemy’ seems, to my eyes, a very stupid move. This is the sort of business decision that makes New Coke and Edsel look like nuclear physics; at least in those cases, the companies thought they were giving the public what they wanted. In this case, it seems that Disney is kowtowing to their employees (excuse me, ‘cast members’) over the people that pay them – and said cast members. And not even a majority of cast members, it would seem, but rather those in more creative rules that tend to be far more vocal than their numbers would otherwise permit. To quote my dad, they “make too much noise for the money they spend.” And with Disney focusing on them rather than their customers, they may be making a serious mistake.
All of which has had me worried as to whether I shouldn’t dump the stock before it craters. However, this morning, I checked, and it’s a relatively small part of our portfolio; somewhere between three and four dozen shares. It’s not enough to affect our savings, nor is it enough for us to affect the company’s (bad) business choices. We can only hope that those with a much larger stake in the company will speak up as the price continues to slide, as companies don’t die overnight from one stupid choice – it’s a slow process, and reversible if the shareholders speak up.
Again, I realize that this is of no concern to you. Where you are, gold is literally as common as pavement, and so the concepts wealth and commerce are every bit as dull as I used to find the business section of the news back in my childhood. But this is future generations’ childhoods at stake, and it’s sad to see them sacrificed for the sake of people who want to talk about sex to kids between five and eight years old. Or maybe Disney doesn’t realize this; I don’t see them scrambling to make a cartoon about what Mickey and Minnie (or Donald and Goofy, for that matter) do behind closed doors.
Anyway, I’ll talk to you later. Keep an eye out for us, and wish this world luck. We’re going to need it.