Milton Friedman and Georgia’s New Abortion Law

Disney, NBCUniversal, and WarnerMedia announced that they either will no longer continue filming or be strongly affected in their decision process on filming in Georgia should that state carry out its highly restrictive abortion law.

Economist Milton Friedman wrote about the dangers to businesses that use social and political issues as a controlling factor in their decision processes. Professor Friedman urged particular caution when businesses become involved in hot-button issues. The Barometer calls them “loser issues.” Both labels apply to those social and political issues that find customers divided. No matter what position the business takes on an issue and the decision to boycott cities, states, and other businesses, it will lose customers. The issues themselves are important, but businesses will lose support (and revenue and possibly employees) no matter which position they take. Abortion and gun control are two such issues. They are critical social and political issues, but a business that vows a boycott because a city or state has taken a position its managers oppose will affect the business.

There is one position a business can take on such issues that is universal and easily explicable. That position, the Friedman position, is one made on the basis of the business’s costs and needs. Such a universal position makes the business an agnostic on social and political issues. The business allows the people of cities and states to make decisions on these issues without tantrums and boycotts from a land far, far away (Hollywood). A business should serve people of all views and allow them the freedom to decide for themselves what their laws and regulations will be. Should the residents of a state or city make decisions that infringe rights there is an active and engaged court system designed to handle those emotional issues on the basis of laws and rights, not whether “Black Panther” or “Captain America:Civil War” will be filmed in their state.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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2 Responses to Milton Friedman and Georgia’s New Abortion Law

  1. Dennis Lisonbee says:

    Disney stockholders should be scratching their head right now.

    First, Georgia has one of the best film incentive programs in the nation. This tidy business deal to attract film business to Georgia saves Disney millions in production costs as well as tidy savings on the line of credit interest payment Disney makes to their bank. But you can be sure that Disney is right now negotiating with abortion states to match the sweet deal Georgia gives Disney.

    Second, Disney is telling the shareholder they are now publicly encouraging aborting a large portion of the next generation of the Disney target market (the outcasts), which will result in fewer children enjoying Disney products and fewer parents paying for the products.

    It will be interesting to watch the long term consequences of Disney changing their successful entertainment business model to an overt political activism model.

  2. mmjdiary says:

    And this from a company that does business in China. On this day, the 30-year marker of Tiananmen Square, we are reminded of the repression, the human rights violations, and the lack of religious freedom that grips the people of that nation in fear and silence. Georgia looks better and better. And the hypocrisy of selective Disney outrage is as silly as making business decisions on the basis of social issues.

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