Why Conservatives Shouldn’t Boycott Chipotle


For those of you who haven’t heard, Chipotle Mexican Grill, which for years allowed local laws to dictate policy for the restaurant chain regarding open or concealed weapons, has decided to “ask” customers not to bring firearms into its restaurants after some zealous gun owners paraded around with “military-style assault rifles” at a Chipotle in Texas. What’s more probable, though, is that well-funded anti-Second Amendment activists exploited a single unfortunate incident to badger a pliable corporation into a bad decision. This is neither new nor unexpected.

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Cue the calls for a boycott from Second Amendment fans.

There’s really nothing inherently wrong with the idea of boycotting businesses that you don’t like. Though, there’s typically nothing very productive about the idea, either. On a personal level, if I participated in boycotts every time a company slighted my ideological sensibilities, I wouldn’t be able to watch a movie, listen to music, read a novel or basically do anything but hole up in a bunker. I am far more inclined to support businesses that stand up to government meddling and ones that are targeted by boycotters whom I dislike. When — or maybe if — I’m ever in need of silk flowers or affordable picture frames, I’ll be sure to head to Hobby Lobby.

As a Second Amendment fan, I believe that Chipotle is making a mistake. Yet the company isn’t exactly undermining our constitutional rights by asking consumers to keep their guns out of its restaurants. Though Chipotle acted for the wrong reasons, it has every right to create an experience for its consumers that it finds safe and inviting. The company has only asked that you not bring weapons, but if consumers bring their concealed weapons in the restaurants, there is little anyone can or would do. Precipitating conflict over the issue seems more appropriate for the Occupy movement than it does for a conservative.

Fact is, if the CEO of Qdoba Mexican Grill were a libertarian plutocrat supporting all my favorite organizations, I’d still choose Chipotle, because when it comes to food, I owe more to a good product than I do to a philosophically sound owner. Chipotle was founded on an exemplary idea, and its execution and consistency have won my business — even when I disagree with its choices. Now, if this company were forking over millions to some finger-wagging Michael Bloomberg-funded gaggle of authoritarians (the groups that nag these companies into compliance), I would probably have to reconsider. But as far as I know, that’s not the case.

Moreover, boycotts are typically pretty ineffective — or, when they are successful, they end up hurting people who have nothing to do with the decisions that have upset everyone. The combined compensation package for the two guys who run Chipotle, for example, is $50 million. Executive pay is, on average, allegedly 204 times that of the average worker. One CEO, Steve Ells, makes 778 times the median wage of his employees. He makes more than the CEOs of Ford, AT&T and a bunch of other colossal corporations. And the guy deserves every penny, in my opinion. (Yes, I like Chipotle … a lot.) Even if the boycott would have an impact, it’s the rank-and-file employee, folks who have absolutely no bearing on policy, who would end up suffering first. Ells would not.

And anyway, if conservatives are in the mood to boycott bad actors, there are plenty around who have committed far more egregious sins against America. You can start with companies that survive on taxpayer dollars and don’t even have the decency to provide consumers with a decent burrito.

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist and the author of “The People Have Spoken (and They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy.” Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.

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