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February 22, 2018

The New York Times Wants to Direct America’s Banks on What They Should Do to Hurt Your Business


By Larry Keane

Imagine a business landscape where the top executives of the nation’s largest financial institutions take upon themselves the decision to blacklist a category of legal products as the result of political pressure, suggestion from the liberal news media with an activist agenda, social pressure from their elitist peer group – or some combination of these influences since they tend to overlap. The implications would be ominous and the result antithetical to what we understand in America as the basis of free interstate commerce. Acting together, such a decision could constitute collusion and illegal restraint of trade in violation of federal law, would it not?

That prospect is upon us if the suggestion of a New York Times business columnist is judged worthy by the nation’s top bankers or other financial services executives. Put aside for the moment the apparently fully-obsolete notion that journalists should report the news, not try to make it, and that, business columnists should not be advising the CEOs of publicly-traded companies on what their companies should or should not be doing.

Virtue Signaling Over Objective Reporting

New York Times “Deal Book” columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin’s “How Banks Could Control Gun Sales if Washington Won’t” is more than presumptuous and worrisome-based as it is both on inaccurate assumptions on semi-automatic firearms, even if widely shared by his antigun-and-proud-of-it newsroom peer group, and the growing trend of virtue-signaling over objective reporting. If this is indeed the direction we’re heading no product will be safe, no business will be exempt — the consumer be damned. You won’t be able to buy the product, at least not in the way you can purchase anything else.

One bank may think there’s too much sugar in that product. There’ll be no loan to buy new packaging equipment for that plant. Is your convenience store selling tobacco products, salty snacks or beer? Wait, you’re selling all of those? Hold on, we don’t feel comfortable providing your store with credit card processing services and helping people get fat. And to make sure the new social order is imposed for the collective good, don’t bother calling any other financial services provider – they have ALL agreed ahead of time to disagree with your business decisions.

Why Not Handguns, Too?

That’s exactly what Times Business World scrivener Sorkin wants to see. Only he has decided to start by suggesting that “assault weapons” (an invented political term used to mislead the public and demonize modern sporting rifles that are the most popular and commonly owned semi-automatic rifles), high-capacity (standard capacity) magazines and bump stocks, should be the first products to be outlawed by financiers. No doubt his list will expand if he’s ever successful in this initial endeavor. Why not handguns next?

All of this is to call on certain companies to fulfill their corporate commitments to social responsibility, as one writer sees it. Let’s flip this around. What if a conservative writer raised objections to the processing of credit card payments for a certain liberal cause. Former Whitehouse spokesman Ari Fleischer pointed out on Twitter what a mistake this approach represents.

We’re having none of it. We would prefer not to have to go to the Department of Justice or court to forestall any half-baked attempt at illegal collusion to restrain trade and what is an undisguised attack on an important component of the lawful, and the constitutionally protected, commerce in arms that makes the Second Amendment possible for our citizens to exercise in 2018 and beyond. We don’t think it will go that far. We think most Americans and even financial company executives know a bad idea when they see one. The New York Times is another story.

 

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