Buyer’s Remorse for Boeing

Political outrage swept through South Carolina in the aftermath of the NLRB’s decision to demand that Boeing to close its new factory in South Carolina and open one in Washington state. Taking scattered quotes from Boeing executives out of context and weaving them together into a corporate-greed-fantasy narrative, Obama-appointed General Counsel of the NLRB, Lafe Solomon, filed the complaint against Boeing, claiming that opening a factory in South Carolina was an “retaliation” against labor unions, ignoring that the Boeing plant was an expansion (as opposed to a relocation of any Washington plants), and the one thousand workers already employed there.


It follows that the same ideological crowd who would characterize not purchasing health insurance as an act of interstate commerce, would also characterize not awarding a job to a politically loyal constituency as a retaliation, but this does not alleviate the sting. Most alarming is the precedent set by a federal agency that attempts to exercise the power to reallocate job creation on the basis of shady legal logic supplemented by lies (read: politics). An America where even private employment is a political commodity to be bargained with and redistributed towards the politically well-connected is more nightmarishly plutocratic than any America the radical left could accuse the GOP of striving towards. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) bluntly voiced the suspicions of many when he quipped, “Is this decision based on the fact that South Carolina appears to be a Republican state…a right-to-work state?” Of course, Washington is not a right-to-work state.


Also significant is that Boeing is one of the most important corporate supporters of the Democratic Party. Businessweek pointed out that in the 2010 elections, Boeing was the third largest corporate donor to Democratic campaigners, only behind notoriously politically well-connected Honeywell and AT&T (excited by Obama’s net neutrality stance). Boeing was one of many corporations that rushed hundreds of thousands of dollars to vulnerable Democrats (most who still lost). Boeing’s top recipient was the number three Democrat in the Senate, Patty Murray, who scrapped out a narrow victory against Republican challenger Dino Rossi. Although hardly an entirely blameless player in the controversy, the position of Boeing and their likely profound buyer’s remorse is sympathetic at the least.


Although much of the outrage among Republican politicians is based on the horrifying implications of a decision that should terrify all Americans, the political significance and possible gains certainly didn’t escape anyone. Even Boeing CEO James NcNerney, recently appointed by President Obama as Chairman of the President’s Export Council, voiced his outrage. American businesses, especially those like Boeing with strong ties to the Democratic Party, are approaching a time for choosing, for political realignment. Democrats and big labor (‘and’ is optional) may slap themselves on the back for their vindicative and petty victory, but an important lesson is reverberating across America.


If the Boeing incident teaches American businesses and entrepreneurs anything, it is that the age of the pro-business, let alone the business-friendly or business-tolerant Democrat, is gone, replaced by a ravenous beast bought and paid for by big labor. And that the beast can no longer be reasoned with, can no longer be compromised with, and can no longer be mollified – only put down.


Kirk Jing