Politics

Institutions and Platforms

The wisdom of "Sir, this is a Wendy's"

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A few days ago the CEO of Expensify, an expense reporting company, sent out a blast email endorsing Joe Biden. The email went, not just to the CEO's friends and contacts, and not just to Expensify's employees, but to all of Expensify's customers, and to all of their employees—that is, to anyone who submits expense reports.

Some of those people might have been surprised at political spam from their expense reporting company. (But for Citizens United, would this be a felony?) And a few customers have dropped Expensify since, protesting the misuse of their email lists. But whatever happens to Expensify, the episode reminded me of a passage by Yuval Levin, on treating institutions as platforms:

We now think of institutions less as formative and more as performative, less as molds of our character and behavior, and more as platforms for us to stand on and be seen. And so for one arena to another in American life, we see people using institutions as stages, as a way to raise their profile or build their brand. And those kinds of institutions become much harder to trust.

Institutions get weaker as their purposes expand. Once every #brand has had to pick a side on Kashmir or the filioque clause, no one can tell them apart. Whatever makes Expensify distinct, whatever unique contribution it offers—saving time and money! making employees' lives easier!—seems pale and wan next to the great causes of the day.

But the great advantage of limited-purpose institutions is that they let us achieve their limited purposes while still disagreeing on other things. Everyone gets this instinctively when it comes to "Sir, this is a Wendy's." Sometimes mundane things like lunch take precedence over great moral conflicts: not because the conflicts are unimportant, but because we shouldn't hold up the drive-thru line until the great conflicts are resolved. It's precisely when the issues are important—and divisive—that we need limited-purpose institutions most.

Glenn Cohen asks whether this view assumes too much about the justice of existing institutions, or of their power and role. I don't think it does. Wendy's is hardly free of moral obligations (being a vegetarian, that'd be hard for me to say!). But some conversations are for the drive-thru cashier, others for the CEO, others for the shareholder meeting, and others for the state legislature.

People in our society disagree a lot. When we respect each other as moral agents, that puts certain limits on how we respond to that disagreement. Even in a socialist society— maybe even an integralist one, though I can't really say—there might be institutions that just fix cars, rather than engaging (per the famous SNL skit) in a Pep Boys Conversation About Gender™. The point isn't to eliminate criticism and debate, but to channel it properly.

If all the answers are known, if We Are All Already Agreed, if reluctance to press one's view on others is just lack of commitment or weakness of will—then maybe these distinctions between institutions are silly or false, and repurposing them to advance the great causes of moral reform is obviously right. (After all, what is there on the other side of the ledger?) But in our world, a world with deep and abiding disagreements among people of good will, that strikes me as a way of losing sight of the very real value our institutions have.

NEXT: Originalism and Birthright Citizenship

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  1. “But the great advantage of limited-purpose institutions is that they let us achieve their limited purposes while still disagreeing on other things.”

    The problem with this great advantage, is that there’s a growing belief, primarily on the left, that people who disagree shouldn’t be permitted to achieve limited purposes unrelated to the disagreement; That disagreement calls for total shunning and exclusion from society.

    From this perspective, there can be no neutral ground, and anybody who tries to maintain one is actually on the other side, and also subject to such comprehensive shunning.

    1. There’s also the problem that the younger generation is being taught that institutions, particularly businesses, are part of a hierarchy designed to perpetuate oppression.

      So a company, let’s say a shingle company, can’t just make shingles without being part of a power structure designed to perpetuate cis-heteronormative patriarchal white supremacy.

      We can’t get this shit out of universities fast enough.

      1. The fastest way to get it out is to stop guaranteeing student loans.

    2. “The problem with this great advantage, is that there’s a growing belief, primarily on the left, that people who disagree shouldn’t be permitted to achieve limited purposes unrelated to the disagreement; That disagreement calls for total shunning and exclusion from society.”

      That’s a pretty…interesting take on an article complaining about some CEO’s political views.

      1. It was a response to the OP, not the CEO. What the CEO did was a straight up violation of customer trust.

        1. I totally agree that this was a violation of customer trust, which actually makes it a pretty bad vehicle for the general conversation because the fundamental problem here is much more the way the message was communicated than the fact that the CEO of Expensify wants to let people know how to vote.

          1. “…which actually makes it a pretty bad vehicle for the general conversation…”

            Fair enough, but the author is just claiming that this incident is what reminded him of the quote about performativity. In more formal writing I’d expect better flow, but hey, it’s a blog post.

      2. “That’s a pretty…interesting take on an article complaining about some CEO’s political views.”

        The article’s a little tough to follow, so let me explain it. It’s not complaining about some CEO’s political views, it’s complaining about some CEO spamming his employees and customers with his political views, and expounding on that to say that the production of goods and services that we actually need is at risk if companies have to be performative in some extraneous sense in order to produce those goods and services.

        1. The article is tough to follow because it’s trying to extrapolate from what looks to be a less than 200 employee start up into some broader commentary on America’s institutions.

          1. It is a perfectly cromulent example of the all-pervasive social justice war being shoved down people’s throats. By them, everything is political, and there is only the one side, their side. Those refusing to recognize either of those just shows how evil they are.

            1. It sounds like you’re already convinced this thing is true. To the extent that others might have doubt, a single political endorsement sent by the CEO of a tiny company probably isn’t going to convince anyone.

              1. It’s good thing we’ve seen much more than a single political endorsement by a CEO of tiny company.

          2. Do we need to look up and list every pointlessly performative act of “look at me and my beliefs” from an institution to make it sufficiently obvious that that’s Very Popular These Days?

            The Expensify thing is just a “right now” example.

            1. I believe it’s a new mental disorder brought on by the Age of Social Media.

              1. Whereas decking the country in Christmas trees and blinking lights for the month of December has nothing to do with “look at me and my beliefs”?

                Sometimes the things you think are new, aren’t.

    3. This attitude shows in their drive to force companies to include stakeholders, not just shareholders, in boards. Stakeholder is way too loose a definition, too easily expanded to include not just employees and customers, but anyone claiming to be even marginally affected by everything the company does, which includes everybody in the world, since no company is an island.

      1. Actually, the phrase is “no man is an island.” But since corporations are people, I guess it applies. John Donne, phone your editor.

        1. Corporations aren’t people, and pretending they “are” is tired.

          They’re like people in some legal contexts, as a lawyer should know, both because that lets them be things like “sued” and “capable of making contracts”, and because they’re composed of actual people, who have various rights that don’t vanish the second they’re working together.

          1. Take a deep breath. I was making a joke. “John Donne, phone your editor” should have clued you in.

            Turn on your sarcasm detector.

            1. Talk about the kettle calling the pot black!

        2. Damn you’re clever. Wow.

        3. Just be damn sure you wear a mask while you are that island!

          1. No kidding. I constantly see people in their cars driving somewhere, alone, and they are wearing masks. Completely pointless, who are they going to infect, their steering wheel?

  2. “It’s precisely when the issues are important—and divisive—that we need limited-purpose institutions most.”

    This is unrealistic and actually aggressively un-American.

    Companies are in it to make profit and if using non-core issues helps them, then so be it.

    Corporations put their diversity/morals/environmental practices, etc. out there for everyone to see.

    How many companies add some sort of Made in USA label on their product?

    Which companies are closed on Sundays for some reason?

    I’m not sure where this blog is going.

    1. But they’re doing it even when it hurts them by alienating half their customer base.

      I think what you’re seeing is that CEO’s care more about the approval of their social peers, than they do about the performance of the companies they’re running.

      1. Then that’s their foolish decision.

        The real concern is if the motives are to butter up politicians to avoid increased regulation. Nobody ever seems to care about this. How do you discover backroom, off the record deals, rampant in Congress?

      2. Maybe they know something you don’t.

      3. Again, you assume the worst possible motive.

        I agree with you about the customer trust issue, and also that it was a bad business move. But why assume it was motivated by a desire fro approval from peers? You don’t know that, or have any evidence to support it. Consider alternative explanations:

        1. The CEO just has terrible judgment, and doesn’t understand the harm done to the business.

        2. The CEO thinks supporting Biden is worth the harm.

        3. The CEO was drunk.

        1. In this case, I suspect the guy just wanted to help Biden. And perhaps didn’t quite understand what “send to all” entailed.

          In cases like the behavior of the NFL or NASCAR, it seems more a matter of virtue signaling to people who aren’t their customers. And not caring that they’d be pissing off people who were their customers. (But, judging by viewership levels, aren’t anymore.)

          1. In cases like the behavior of the NFL or NASCAR, it seems more a matter of virtue signaling to people who aren’t their customers.

            I don’t know that and neither do you. What I do know is that I have a visceral dislike of the phrase “virtue signalling.” When you accuse someone of that you are first of all reading their minds, and second accusing them of hypocrisy, pandering, dishonesty, whatever, as if you couldn’t imagine that they actually believe what they are saying.

            That said, in the case of the NFL or NASCAR, or any other organization that depends on wide popularity, there surely is a marketing motivation behind their stances. It’s not like they woke up one day and decided to devote themselves to racial justice, for example.

            Still, I don’t see a lot of difference between that and military displays, AF flyovers, and the like at football games. For that matter I don’t any difference between that and the NFL’s previous reaction to player protests, which were surely intended to cater to other political views.

            1. The military flyovers did not tank their ratings. That was when they had all time high ratings.

              Now their ratings are cratering. The NBA and MLB have experienced the worst ratings ever recorded.

              Gee, I wonder why?

              1. Must be all the woke horses?

                https://www.sportsmediawatch.com/2020/09/kentucky-derby-ratings-plunge-best-sportscast-since-april/

                Maybe some stuff other than your political fantasies is going on this year?

    2. “This is…actually aggressively un-American.”

      That’s not an argument.

      1. It’s a thesis statement, supported by the subsequent parts of the comment.

        Unless you want to start regulating corporate speech.

        1. It was fun to see the dig at Citizens United in the post. I guess political speech by companies is cool as long as it’s conservative.

        2. “It’s a thesis statement, supported by the subsequent parts of the comment.”

          You misspelled un-supported. There’s nothing in the rest of the comment about being American. And even if it were supported, it still wouldn’t be an argument. Step up your game, Sarcastro.

          “Unless you want to start regulating corporate speech.”

          This has nothing to do with regulating corporate speech. Either you just assume regulation is the answer to everything, or you read way too much into the reference to Citizen’s United.

        3. “Unless you want to start regulating corporate speech.”

          There are many cultural and business norms that are important to society that are not the product of “regulation.”

          Until very recently, the politics of a fast-food business were not something anyone bothered considering when deciding where to buy fast food. No one even thought it was important to know whether the corporate management of McDonald’s supported Clinton or Bush I in 1992, or where the corporate management of Kentucky Fried Chicken stood on Roe v. Wade. No federal or state law created that reality, it was simply a cultural norm.

          Now it does seem to be important. That is a degradation of culture that is to be lamented.

          1. I blame capitalism.

        4. “Unless you want to start regulating corporate speech.”

          Looks like we are going to have to do so. If corps are allied with the left exclusively then at least some of the time we need to get an even break.

          Maybe anti trust and tax law. Going to have to break some GOP Zombie Reaganites and Tea Partiers of the aversion to this. Should be interesting.

        5. I thought liberty of corporations to make profits as they want to do was kinda bedrock, but maybe you don’t.

          1. “I thought liberty of corporations to make profits as they want to do was kinda bedrock…”

            It is, and of course we shouldn’t regulate corporate speech. Of course, we shouldn’t regulate the sex and race of who should be on corporate boards either.

            1. So you did understand what apedad meant when he said “This is unrealistic and actually aggressively un-American.”

              Good to know.

    3. Corporations put their diversity/morals/environmental practices, etc. out there for everyone to see.

      A few do that. Many more, including too many big ones, hide their particulars, and seek anonymity while shoveling cash to policy makers.

      I like the notion of applying this critique to Citizens United when it gets its next court review.

      1. What part of CU was, you know, hidden in any way?

        They made a movie about Hillary that you, it seems, feels should have been banned from being aired.

      2. Shoveling cash to policy makers is government working as designed going back to tbe first farmer trading hub where someone decided to require money for the honor of participating.

        That’s why people go into government, to get rich via graft in exchange for declining to kick businesses in the nuts. It is a flaw of government, not of the people and their businesses.

        1. Well, everybody except Joe. Biden, as we know, is clean as the wind driven snow.

    4. What makes you assume that Expensify did this because the CEO thought it would make the company money?

      Rather than because he realized he had a way to send a message to millions of people right before the election and maybe get a few of them to vote his way?

      (What’s “un-American” about complaining about that eroding respect for the institution that does it?

      It’d be un-American to call for the State to ban it, but that was emphatically not on the agenda.

      Equally there was no complaint that companies ever did anything other than maximized profits and dared to advertise or signal things; there was a complaint that it was random spam to customers and their employees unrelated to the business and purchasing decision.

      Putting “We Love Biden Vote Democrat Or Else!” on their webpage would be comparable to “yay we love the environment” statements.

      “Made in USA” is simply advertising to the sort of customer that desires that in a product; it’s a direct marketing decision, not a Statement Of Principle That Maybe Might Vaguely Inspire Purchases.)

  3. You should never bring up politics in a non-political setting unless you know for sure that the other person is pretty much on the same page as you.

    1. Minor detail; to the left, every setting is political.

      1. This is a common refrain among those on the right who think everything is political.

        The key is careful tuning about what ‘on the left’ means.

        1. “The key is careful tuning about what ‘on the left’ means.”

          It’s not careful tuning. To draw upon Arthur’s point below, there is a perception on the right that the left doesn’t want you eat at Chick-fil-a because they disagree with the owner’s politics.

          This feeds the perception that the left thinks that everything is political. If there is a significant component of the left that doesn’t care where we eat, they haven’t done a good job of making themselves known. For example, I’ve never seen you chime in on a Chick-fil-a thread and remind people that some of the left doesn’t care where people eat.

          1. Chick-fil-A is a good example which will fall on deaf ears. There are innumerable examples of organizations which the left would have you shun; the worst the right has ever shunned is Disney and other companies who supported gay spousal benefits, but I don’t remember it ever being expanded to as many companies and ideologies as the left has dredged up.

            1. Your comment reveals vivid ignorance with respect to the rich record of boycotts involving the American Family Association, the Moral Majority, Focus On The Family, and other right-wing groups.

              This record involves dozens (if not hundreds) of companies, large and small, and several decades of organized, national conservative boycotts. The Million Moms group just called for a boycott of Oreos a week or so ago because Jesus hates companies, such as Mondelez, that don’t treat gays like dirt.

              Your assertion is ignorant or a lie.

              Other than that, though, great comment!

              1. “Your comment reveals vivid ignorance with respect to the rich record of boycotts involving the American Family Association, the Moral Majority,”

                That’s certainly true. Many people on the right just quite reasonably ignore those types. You know choose reason every time, etc.

                But as demonstrated on this very thread, you not only are not ignorant of such movements on the left, but actively support them. You are the Moral Majority, Arthur!

              2. I mean, c’mon. Just because some group announces their boycott, it’s meaningless unless it actually holds some sway. Do I think for a minute that Oreo’s sales have fallen because of this supposed boycott? No chance. As least you could have picked up someone like the Dixie Chicks, who did pay a penalty for their criticism of Bush.

                Compare that to companies that find themselves in the crosshairs of those on the left. How many locations has Walmart or Chick-fil-A been kept out of because they are vilified by the left? How many more bureaucratic hoops have they had to jump through? How many My Pillows memes or negative stories about companies sponsoring Trump’s inauguration have there been?

                The only person caring about Moral Majority is you.

        2. “those on the right who think everything is political.”

          Really past time to change your name to Gaslito.

          A term invented by the left.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_personal_is_political

          Practiced regularly by theleft.

          “Kappa Delta’s national organization has issued an apology for congratulating Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a member of the sorority at Rhodes College, for her nomination to the Supreme Court.

          The sorority tweeted on September 28 a congratulations to Barrett, several days after President Donald Trump officially nominated her to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat.

          The tweet read: “KD alumna Amy Coney Barrett was nominated to serve on the Supreme Court. While we do not take a stand on political appointments, we recognize Judge Coney Barrett’s significant accomplishment. We acknowledge our members have a variety of views and a right to their own beliefs.”

          The tweet has since been deleted. Kappa Delta released an apology the next day, apologizing to people offended by the post and people offended by its removal.”

          1. “Kappa Delta released an apology the next day, apologizing to people offended by the post and people offended by its removal.”

            That is the funniest thing I’ve read in some time. Kappa Delta assumed, probably correctly, that their audience simply doesn’t care that at most one of the apologies can be sincere.

    2. “You should never bring up politics in a non-political setting unless you know for sure that the other person is pretty much on the same page as you.”

      You disregard the profitability of narrowcasting.

      Chick-fil-A, for example, profits handsomely from being known as purveyor of Bigot Chicken and Jesus Waffle Fries. The clingers line up before the bell rings to demonstrate their solidarity — but not on Sunday, which is Virtue-Signaling Day.

      1. That franchise has 2 drive thru lanes, often with a traffic director. The line of cars extends out into the road, blocking traffic. That is true everywhere I pass one. It is the taste, and the idea of filling up a chick without making her gain weight. You should try their original sandwich. It is delicious at a very low price.

        1. The current honey pepper pimento cheese sandwich is fantastic. But my wife does like the original sandwich, not even the deluxe, with veggies. Might have something to do with her being 80 lbs soaking wet, and wanting to save room for the fries.

          1. Honey pepper pimento cheese?? Sounds amazing! It must be a limited-availability offer, because it’s not on the menu at my local CFA. I’ll have to keep an eye out.

            1. Apparently they’re just test marketing it here in the Carolinas.

              I sure hope it tests well, because it’s my favorite.

      2. Sucks for you guys that Bigot Chicken is delicious.

        I wonder if folks in certain bubbles appreciate how many folks don’t give a shit if someone’s gay and will happily eat at Chick-fil-a.

        You know. Normal people.

        1. Chick-fil-A fans get stuck with lousy movies, lousy music, lousy comedians, lousy television shows, and lousy schools . . . so if Bigot Chicken is delicious, that is good.

          1. The people I know who like CFA have the same pop-culture as you do.

            (Bigot chicken?

            Well, I guess you’d know about bigotry, at least.)

            1. Yup. Life’s good when not everything is political.

            2. Bigot chicken is a Rhode Island Red that refuses to be in the yard with a Black Shumen.

      3. Does Chick-fil-A advertise about that?

        Or is it … Right backlash against the Left spew about CFA?

        (I repeat, “clingers” as in “bitterly clinging to guns and religion” refers to Democrats.)

      4. I’ve eaten at Chick-fil-A. There are no political signs, flyers or anything similar in the restaurant. They don’t collect my email or address to spam me with political messages at home or work.

        I get that the CEO has a view, but he’s not exactly slamming it down his customers throats when they are in his restaurant, at work or at home. He’s also not slamming it down his customers employees throats. It appears Expensify did that.

        The CEO would not be getting criticized the way he is if all he’d done was state his views publicly so people could learn them or be aware of them. He spammed people with these.

        1. “I get that the CEO has a view, but he’s not exactly slamming it down his customers throats when they are in his restaurant, at work or at home.”

          Chick-fil-A closes each Sunday, even at locations — campuses, airports — where choices often are limited. The bigots who operate Chick-fil-A slam their preferences down their customers’ throats one day each week.

          Other than that, though, great comment!

          1. So the local restaurant by my house that closes at 9pm every night is slamming their preferences down everyone’s throat? They are bigoted against those who prefer night life, like myself? That, by definition, has to be a true statement if you want to say the hours of operation of a business are an extension of control over others.

            1. The people who control Chick-fil-A headquarters were, and perhaps still are, gay-bashing bigots. They forbid operations on Sundays — even if a franchisee wishes to operate on Sundays — because of their superstition. Your attempt to obscure or rebut that point is unpersuasive.

              1. Damn straight, Arthur. Open wide, clingers, and work on the days that your betters tell you to work!

                1. Chick-fil-A gets to open or close as it wishes; superstitious bigots have rights, too.

          2. Closing business on Sundays is not slamming a preference down anyone’s throat. Neither is closing at night, Saturdays, Tuesdays or Thursdays. It doesn’t become slamming a preference down anyone’s throat even if choices are limited.

      5. Chick-Fil-A had a couple SJW activists infiltrate their board and they subsequently stopped donating to Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

        Hence why I no longer buy my bigot chicken from them.

        1. I’d stop, but it’s good food.

          1. Popeye’s chicken sandwiches are better.

            For reals.

            1. Oh, I agree, but the nearest Popeye’s is a half hour drive from here, the nearest Chic Fil A five minutes.

            2. Both are very good. But Popeye is a terrible misogynist.

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  5. When politics takes on religious properties, you can’t deal with it like you would a normal policy dispute. For one, compromise is off the table. Surely the experience of FIRE has demonstrated this for us enough by now.

  6. Progressives are above everything. Didn’t you know? You shouldn’t be worried about lunch, you should be worried about congratulating narcissists on their politics. (And, BTW, they already had their lunch and yours doesn’t matter.)

  7. It wasn’t just current customers, but past customers as well. Our company hasn’t used Expensify for a year or more, so I was rather surprised to get the CEO’s email in my inbox last week!

    1. I wonder if, since that email was patently not about actual business relationships, it counts as illegal spamming?

      Expensify can legally mail its customer list, even ex-customers, about business stuff (at least until told not to by an unsubscribe).

      I’m not at all sure they can just use their business contact list for mass email of unrelated content/

      1. It probably counts as an illegal campaign donation, since it was done with corporate resources.

  8. As a business or professional, it is best to avoid politics and religion with customers. No matter the view, half the customers will be offended. No change in views will happen. The business will only be hurt, not enhanced.

    1. That principle, to avoid politics and religion, and offending half the population, applies to professional and to college sports.

      1. “That principle, to avoid politics and religion, and offending half the population, applies to professional and to college sports.”

        Many colleges engage in systematic religion-based discrimination, teach nonsense and suppress science to flatter religion, and found their images on religion.

        1. Those colleges have given up on the secular audience, and are very short in reach. It is true of religious schools, as well. Many are very close to being secular, like Georgetown and Notre Dame. They have large followings.

        2. Have you ever actually been to a religious university to see what they actually teach? I had ONE science professor who did not accept the entire dogma of a godless evolutionary history. All the others taught something you would agree with. All but two of my history professors were proud Democrats. My political sci prof and advisor was an unabashed supporter of illegal immigration and keeping abortion legal. None of my political sci classes were taught by anyone right of center… and I got a poli sci degree. The ONLY school that had any real religious bend was the religion school… and even then my OT and Biblical Ethics profs dabbled in subjective morality.

          I think you see boogeymen because if you saw reality you could only conclude that you are full of shit.

          1. ” I had ONE science professor who did not accept the entire dogma of a godless evolutionary history. ”

            Do you believe fairy tales are true?

        3. Here in Minnesota, we have several small liberal-arts schools, each affiliated with some Christian denomination (St. Thomas, Catholic; Augsburg, Lutheran; Hamline, Methodist; Bethel, Baptist; etc.). Of those, just two, Bethel and Northwestern, have any actual religious push. The rest of them are just universities, often celebrating and supporting non-religious groups.

          But to Arthur, they’re all religious institutions.

          1. St. Thomas has no “actual religious push?”

            That is the assertion of a dope.

            1. Have you ever been to the campus (either of them)? Because I’ve attended classes there. Sure, there is a connection to religion (as there is at other schools), but nobody’s requiring you to attend mass, live by some covenant, or convert to Catholicism. You want that, you need to go to Bethel or Northwestern.

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    2. Michael Jordon once knew this: “Republicans buy shoes, too.”

      1. Jordan has a net worth of $2 billion.

  9. In-n-Out Burger prints bible verses on their packaging. It’s not really my thing, but the food is pretty good, so I mostly just ignore it and enjoy my cheeseburger.

    In the case of Expensify, there’s a violation of trust involved in abusing mailing lists for purposes that they weren’t originally shared, but as for the actual message it seems like it’s not very hard to ignore it if you think the service is actually good at handling expense reports. Expensify seems like a smaller company (at least in terms of number of employees) than this place, but no one seems worried about the breakdown of institutions because the CEO is pro-Trump:

    https://www.orlandosentinel.com/politics/2020-election/os-ne-daniels-manufacturing-letter-20201019-kwjyipubefb4non6ieuq5gmkw4-story.html

    1. There’s also the rather large difference between an inspirational verse and an explicit endorsement of a political candidate. Despite RAK’s rabidly anti-religious rantings, not every mention of religion is an endorsement of it.

      1. Nice try.

        “not every mention of religion is an endorsement of it.”

        That might be true in general, but in the case of In-n-Out it is intentionally an endorsement of Christianity. You don’t have to believe me, it’s what the people who made the decision to put the verses on the packaging say:

        https://www.christianpost.com/news/in-n-out-billionaire-lynsi-snyder-on-spiritual-warfare-desire-to-be-plugged-in-to-gods-plan.html

        1. Yeah, that’s not actually relevant to my comment. You can post a Buddhist koan with the hope that I will be want to learn more and eventually convert but I can still read the koan merely for it’s own inspirational content. There is no possible way to read the Expensify CEO’s message as anything other than an endorsement.

          1. That’s a weird new definition of endorsement where it doesn’t matter what the person was trying to do, just how the reader takes it? You must be a Roland Barthes fan.

      2. “There’s also the rather large difference between an inspirational verse and an explicit endorsement of a political candidate. Despite RAK’s rabidly anti-religious rantings, not every mention of religion is an endorsement of it.”

        That is a comprehensively stupid comment.

        1. I am not at all surprised by your inability to comprehend. Your lack of self-awareness in your own bigotry and intolerance is legendary.

          1. You figure printing Bible verses on hamburger wrappers isn’t an endorsement of religion, aimed at an audience that just wants a hamburger?

            I would fail an eighth-grader who advanced that level of argument.

            1. I would slap a third grader who fell for your straw man.

              He didn’t say it wasn’t an endorsement of religion. He said there’s a large differencebetween ignoring a bible verse on a hamburger wrapper that you voluntarily purchased, and receiving an unsolicited political endorsement email from someone with whom you do unrelated business.
              You failed that hypothetical eighth grader all right. Failed them miserably.

              1. You claim to perceive a large distinction between a communication that arrives unexpectedly on a hamburger wrapper and one that arrives unexpectedly in an electronic inbox.

                Mostly because you want to excuse the clinger’s delivery of an unsolicited, out-of-place message rooted in childish fantasy.

                1. “You claim to perceive a large distinction between a communication that arrives unexpectedly on a hamburger wrapper and one that arrives unexpectedly in an electronic inbox.”

                  I, too, perceive a large distinction between junk e-mail (and junk mail in general) and material printed on the packaging of products I purchase. I think most other people do as well.

                  I would certainly perceive a large distinction between a spam email from Wendy’s and the word “Wendy’s” printed on my hamburger wrapper.

                  You are free to assert that there is no distinction, but I suspect that your hatred of religious people is making you blind to a distinction that would be obvious in other circumstances.

                  1. How would you respond to a mere wrapper message of “Religion is for gullible children of all ages — choose reason and be an adult” accompanying your Wendy’s hamburger? Not objectionable? Not as objectionable as an email message?

            2. It is also a rather passive thing… the verses weren’t sent to you unsolicited. And at In/Out you can easily go there your whole life and never actually notice or even see the verses. They are small, unobtrusive, and often hidden on the bottom of the cup.

              Say what you will about it… fine. But to equate it to an unsolicited email (you had to ask for the burger) that is explicitly telling you how to believe/act verses a passover verse that gives no commands (I have yet to see a commandment passage from In/Out) is different.

            3. Do you think that printing any other poetic verse or philosophical quote is also an endorsement of that view? Or do you treat religious quotes different in that sense.

              Because there’s a word for treating one group differently based solely on religious affiliation.

              1. Do you think that printing any other poetic verse or philosophical quote is also an endorsement of that view?

                I’m pretty sure that if McDonald’s started printing quotes from Mein Kampf in their fry-wrappers, people would get understandably upset.

                You might be able to get away with it with more obscure stuff (how many people are going to recognize the source of “And ye harm none, do as ye will”?) but generally-speaking, it’s not unfair to think that such quotes are chosen for a reason, and not pulled from a bucket of random flair.

  10. As a Biden voter, every Biden voter I talked to and myself all agree 100% that it was a dick move.

    GOP-aligned companies do this all the time. It is hardly news any more but you can find a few items per month. And they go much further than just sending an e-mail. The victims are expected to donate and actively support or lose their jobs next year due to some imagined apoplectic tax event that will supposedly happen if the CEO’s favorite candidates don’t win.

    Democrat-aligned voters hold their company leaders to a higher standard.

    1. Sending that message was shabby conduct reflecting poor judgment.

    2. GOP-aligned companies do this all the time.

      Examples?

      Democrat-aligned voters hold their company leaders to a higher standard.

      Oh, I see…you’re being sarcastic, right?

      1. Shell in 2015 forced workers to attend a Trump Rally.

        In 2012 the Koch Brothers threatened workers with termination if they did not vote for Romney.

        ASG Software Solutions in Florida told their employees their jobs were over if Obama was elected.

        Many many others. You could find them if you wanted. Now your turn. Find a Democratic CEO that did anything similar. I mean more than just sending an e-mail. If you find one that would be just as wrong as a GOP CEO doing it, but with the right wing it is a regular thing. With Democrats it is an aberration like the subject of this article.

        1. When you said “GOP-aligned companies do this all the time” I assumed that “this” referred to what the CEO of Expensify did in this case. None of your examples…egregious as they may be…involved abuse of customer information (like e-mail addresses), which was a critical part of the story. Furthermore, you claimed “you can find a few items per month”, and yet you provided only 2 examples that didn’t even match the criteria, and even then they were spaced ~3 years apart.

          You could find them if you wanted.

          If that’s true then why were you unable to do so?

          Now your turn.

          I made no claim about the frequency of such actions by companies with any particular political alignment, so…no, it is not my “turn”.

        2. In fact, I can find no sources that support the claims you make about the 2 examples you did cite.

            1. A swing and a big-ol’ miss. That has nothing to do with…

              1) A company official doing what the CEO of Expensify did, or
              2) Either of the incidents cited (or rather, claimed) by OM, or
              3) A company official threatening to terminate employees for not attending a Trump rally, or voting for Trump, or….

              It’s a stupid letter, but it’s not what OM was claiming, or is it anything like the subject of the OP. Try again.

              1. Your goalposts are so narrow as to make it clear you don’t want an actual debate.

                1. Sarcastro knows that “You will be fired unless you vote for Candidate A” is not the same as, “If Candidate B wins we will be forced to lay some people off.” He is just insisting that they are the same in order to get us to question our sense of reality.

                  1. Sarcastro knows that “You will be fired unless you vote for Candidate A” is not the same as, “If Candidate B wins we will be forced to lay some people off.” He is just insisting that they are the same in order to get us to question our sense of reality.

                    He also knows that the notable part of the story in the OP was not that the email went out to employees, but that it went out to customers in a blatant misuse of that information.

                2. Your goalposts are so narrow as to make it clear you don’t want an actual debate.

                  You’re such a pathological liar that you can’t even tell when you’re doing it.

            2. And even if you hadn’t failed on all 3 counts, it still wouldn’t support the “you can find a few items per month” claim.

    3. “every Biden voter I talked to and myself all agree 100% that it was a dick move” — add me to the list.

      A C.E.O has no right to speak for his employees on non-professional matters. They can’t easily dissociate themselves if they disagree with the message, so their “participation” isn’t truly voluntary. Sadly, many people are less-than-scrupulous about speaking on behalf of others without authorization.

  11. Maybe not a Citzens United issue, but a Privacy / ToS violation, not? That may be actionable in other agencies / star chamber administrative law courts …

    1. I doubt it’s a violation of their privacy policy, since it likely says that Expensify can send e-mails to all of the e-mail addresses that they get as part of the service.

      It may very well be a violation of the agreements that they have with their customers, though. That could presumably be addressed through the courts as a standard contract dispute.

      Regardless of any of the above, it’s definitely a violation of expectations and trust. That may not be legally actionable, but may make businesses question their relationship with Expensify.

      1. It depends on the TOS, whether they provide and procedures for notifying or not using the names except in particular instances, particularly to avoid what you point out, that employees of the client companies may NOT have given consent for spam. If EXPENSIFY has EU clients, their privacy framework is quite a bit less friendly to companies like EXPENSIFY, particularly if they don’t cross i’s and dot t’s properly (joke intended).

        1. Okay, having now taken a few minutes to scan the Expensify privacy policy, you’re right that it might actually violate it since they enumerate a specific list of activities that personal information can be used for, and this (predictably) is not contained therein. So theoretically either the FTC or the California AG cloud bring some action for that violation.

          You’re right that this almost certainly was a GDPR violation, assuming that they actually sent mails to people in Europe.

  12. Every four years I see new stories about some boss sending out an e-mail to their employees, threatening them if the Democrat wins the presidency.

    The details change… sometimes they make vague statements, sometimes they specifically say they’ll leave pink slips for everyone that has a bumpersticker for the Dem, but the message is always the same: your job is in danger if the Dem wins.

    So I’ll have to beg pardon, but this isn’t new.

    1. Last week, Florida.

      Let’s hope the employee who reviews that guy’s next government contract is an informed Democrat.

      1. “Informed Democrat”

        aka

        Mythical Creature

  13. It would be helpful to know if this was intentional, or if it was an accident. Did he use the wrong distribution list, and why does the CEO have personal access to such a broad list?

    1. This article has pretty good context. Does not seem to have been a mistake:

      https://www.protocol.com/expensify-email-biden-trump-david-barrett

      1. Looks like a deliberate decision taken by the organization as a whole. I wonder if it violates the contracts they have with their clients on how they use the email addresses of the users.

    1. Funny how that article makes no mention of the Reconstruction amendments.

    2. The article is fairly dumb. It starts with the recognition that Congress had the power to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia and then argues in a sort of meandering circle that some people arguing against that used the original understanding to argue against abolishing slavery in the District, not withstanding that Congress never voted to abolish slavery in the District. Given the other issues surrounding slavery in the pre-war era it’s not surprising that Congress wouldn’t touch it. I’m sure the is an originality argument for or against every single issue that was debated prior to the Civil War, that someone used that argument does not make the argument itself evil.

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