Should companies make political statements? I pondered this when I received a clearly political message in the catalog for the Uline, the company I get my shipping supplies from.
Uline’s catalog is over 700 pages long. It’s filled with everything from corrugated cardboard boxes to book shippers, which I use a lot of. You could get lost in this thing — it’s like the Container Store for small businesses.
Close to the end of the catalog, right after the Index, was a message that surprised me. It’s a letter from the president of the company, Liz Uihlein. Here it is:
Hope And Change Part II
I’m from Chicago, too. I thought I’d take a crack at my version of Hope and Change 2017.
Chicago’s Murder Count – Every Monday morning the city announces the death count for the post weekend. Last year. 762 were killed and 4,331 were shot in Chicago: it was the deadliest year in neatly two decades. That’s beyond distressing for such a great city.
Marijuana – Have the politicians gone mad? Marijuana stays in your system for at least 5 days. This can affect Uline warehouse employees who go up 30 feet In the air to pick products off the shelves. It affects your children or grandchildren. who may be busy telling you it’s safer than alcohol. Its bad news. It remains a gateway drug
Term Limits for Politicians – We need to do what’s right for the country and not the constant battle for money and re-election. The term limits need to be revisited.
Foreign Policy – Get one. The best college course I ever had was called “Deterrence and Defense.” The strongest guy on the playground has a responsibility.
Affordable Healthcare – It’s a “no can do” right now for middle-class people working for smaller companies. Its unfair for the unemployed to receive free healthcare while the premiums for the middle class have largely shot to the moon.
State of California – Stop! The rules and regulations of this state are unbearable. Whether its lunch breaks or VOCs in aerosols – the list goes on and on. California needs a turnaround. Boy is Texas happy.
Trade Policy – We can’t undo a number of the deals now In place, especially with our friends in Mexico and Canada. But going forward we need to level the playing field for the unemployed and for the workers whose plants have been shut down In small towns.
The Press and Pollsters – They have been put on notice for poor performance. We don’t need to go there.
Jobs/Food Stamps – There are 47 million folks out of a U.S. population of 324 million who are currently receiving food stamps. This is just too high of a number.
Will we be better off in four years? Who knows? But let’s give it a try.
Does this message belong in the catalog?
We tell company executives to be clear and personal in their messages. Liz Uihlein did.
With the exception of the picture of the Trump head cookie (who sells those?), there’s no mention of political parties.
Some of these statements, anybody could sympathize with. There are too many murders in Chicago, we all agree. There is too much money in politics. The strongest guy on the playground has a responsibility. We need better trade deals. There are too many people on food stamps.
Others seemed aligned with a conservative perspective. It’s unfair for the unemployed to receive healthcare. The press has performed poorly. There are too many regulations in California. Marijuana is a gateway drug.
Uihlein certainly has a right to her opinion. If you are liberal, would you stop doing business with Uline? What she says is certainly more overtly political than, for example, what Papa John’s Pizza CEO John H. Schnatter said about NFL protests.
Imagine a similar message with a liberal lean. If the president of the company said that police need better training to deal fairly with citizens of all races, that deporting children was wrong, or that no one should be denied health care, would you be more or less likely to buy from the company?
Must we pick sides?
I’m taking a stand.
These are opinions I disagree with.
And I’m going to keep buying my supplies there.
I don’t believe these messages belong in my catalog. But once we start boycotting everything we don’t like, we split the country into warring camps.
If you disagree, that’s your right. But tell me exactly where you draw the line? Do you think the purchasing choices you make change anything? What’s your evidence?