I dream of a world where coffeemongers who refuse to pay their taxes are boycotted by outraged liberals.
Where comedians who tell unfunny and offensive jokes struggle to sell tickets for their gigs.
Where debauched CEOs find their bottom line drifting, and tax-evading chatshow hosts find their viewer numbers suffering.
This is a world where information is king – the consumer gets to know things and they act upon that information by voting with their wallet. What they do NOT do is demand that their indignation alone should be enough to “shut it off” – they instead take responsibility for their own beliefs and make the sacrifice by changing their behaviour.
Tyrannically demanding that a shop be shut completely just because you and your small circle of like-minded friends don’t like it?
Publicise the perceived wrongdoing instead, and see if enough people despise the conduct to not shop there – this is a free country dammit, and if coffeemongers want to aggressively avoid tax then they should be able to and just be aware that this might harm their business.
And if you doubt the power of this process and think you cannot succeed against the might of big business just by voting with your wallet, remember how swiftly and mercilessly the free market destroyed poor Gerald Ratner.
In the end, if only you and your friends despise the conduct, we clearly don’t live in the country you wish we did, and that’s all.
You will have failed to convince the rest of us that your feelings about tax avoidance should matter more than our desire to drink weird coffee.
And this is important – the power of the free market is that we are free, and it is a market.
But we’re increasingly not doing this – instead we are crafting a world where a handful of single-issue bores can shut down swathes of our society because it annoys them.
It’s very dangerous to empower such creatures.
The internet means the consumer has more information that ever before thanks – we can research products before we buy them, and use suppliers anywhere in the world. We can even see what our contemporaries have written about these products and services having used them! We have almost total information if we can be bothered, And if we can’t…… well that means we are willing to take more risks rather than spend more time – a calculation for us each to make for ourselves (how many times do I wish I’d spent more time researching an item of clothing!)
Are we willing to walk further for our coffees because we dislike a particular coffeemongers’ tax policies?
Are we willing to pay more for shoes because we don’t like sweatshops (although bear in mind the workers that work there often prefer those jobs to working in the snake-filled fields!)
Are we willing to go without our cornflakes because we don’t like the advertising strategy of the maker?
Or are we so lazy, unprincipled and foppish that we believe that when we see something we dislike, we merely need indicate our dissatisfaction and someone will “take care of it”?
Let’s hope not.
Let us hope that the generations before us who died for their principles cannot see us refusing to even walk a few extra yards for ours.
The only civilised way to treat suppliers who act in ways we don’t like is to boycott them. Put the information out there, boycott them yourself, and allow your fellow citizens to decide whether to follow you.
Do this, and you are a hero.
Make demands instead, and you are a monster.