Barilla’s Homophobia: A Libertarian’s Dream
Libertarians don’t like the government telling them what to do, especially in economic matters. Even when the government tries to prevent genuinely bad conduct, like discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation, libertarians balk. Of course we’re against discrimination, they say. We just think the market should solve the problem.
Well, libertarians, here’s your chance to put your money where your mouth is. Literally. As The Independent reported Thursday:
Gay rights groups are calling for a boycott of the world’s biggest pasta maker Barilla after the company’s chairman said he would never use homosexual couples in his advertisements.
Guido Barilla, whose firm has almost half the Italian pasta market and a quarter of that in the US, told Italy’s La Zanzara radio show last night: “I would never do an advert with a homosexual family…if the gays don’t like it they can go an eat another brand. …”
See? This is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that market-based solutions work. Not only is Mr. Barilla openly practicing discrimination against gay and lesbian folks, he’s a lousy capitalist to boot: He’s telling a segment of consumers they should go spend their money elsewhere.
If ever a case was ripe for a “market-based solution,” this is it. So what do you say, libertarians? You should launch a boycott of Barilla’s products forthwith.
It ought to be fairly easy to gauge the success of your market-based solution, too. In 2011, Barilla did about a half a billion dollars of business in the U.S. – out of a world-wide total of $3.9 billion – and it’s been looking to increase its sales here ever since, including launching a restaurant chain in the U.S. later this year. If “market-based” solutions really work, we should see Barilla take a hit in the near future.
On the other hand, if a boycott is ineffective – if Barilla continues to cash in in the US market despite the uproar over its CEO’s homophobia – wouldn’t that say something about the efficacy of “market-based” solutions?