A controversy erupted in Bogota, New Jersey this week in response to a McDonald's advertising campaign featuring Spanish billboards, as discussed by Brian Aberback in The Record:
Mayor Steve Lonegan said the McDonald's billboard on River Road near Elm Avenue and the railroad overpass is offensive because it sends the message that Spanish speakers and immigrants do not need to learn how to speak English."Demand that the billboard be removed?" That is definitely not the position of a free market advocate. It certainly does not reflect Republican ideology, which is largely supportive of laissez-faire policies and limited government intervention in markets. I am surprised that Mayor Lonegan, who heads the NJ chapter of Americans for Prosperity, an organization "committed to educating citizens about economic policy", did not make the following analysis:
"English is the language that binds us as a community and as a country," Lonegan said Thursday. "This billboard says, 'You Hispanics can't learn English, so we're going to put up this sign.' It's really sending the wrong message" ... Lonegan said he is not racist and would demand that the billboard be removed if it was in Italian, German or any language other than English.
McDonald's, a profit making corporation providing jobs to over 100,000 Americans and possessing a market capitalization of over $41 Billion, acts first and foremost with the interests of its shareholders in mind. Recognizing that Bogota has a 21% Hispanic population, McDonald's obviously determined that a Spanish advertising campaign would drive up business.
Therefore, the logical course of action for a free market advocate who feels that the business decisions made by McDonald's do not suit his personal sensibilities would be to organize a grassroots effort to buy up McDonald's stock (which is freely traded to the tune of 5.6 million shares per day on average) and seize control of the corporation's Board of Directors, thereby gaining the ability to control advertising strategy.
To his credit, Mayor Lonegan has proposed another option: arranging a boycott of the nearest McDonald's restaurant, to show the corporation that its advertising campaign had negative financial results. A well-managed company like McDonald's would respond swiftly to curtail losses. The Star Ledger reports (7/8 addendum):
"If they don't want to take that billboard down," Lonegan added, "I don't want to buy their products and maybe other Americans like me should share that thought. We should boycott McDonald's."This is the beauty of free markets. It tells us: don't just complain, DO something about it.
Steve, it's nice to be on the evening news, but you've gone overboard on this one. Maybe we can discuss it over a pizz...I mean, "an open-faced tomato and cheese pie".