In the wake of the Parkland high school shooting tragedy, Bank of America loudly and proudly proclaimed that it was backing out of a deal to extend a loan to Remington Arms, because, of course, evil guns. In an interview with Bloomberg last month, Anne Finucane, Vice President of the 2nd-largest bank in the United States, stated that the company would no longer issue loans to makers of “military-style weapons for civilian use.” The announcement was immediately met with euphoric celebration from gun controllers everywhere, and Bank of America basked in the rays of their approval.
The Bank’s announcement was particularly important, because it highlighted the relatively new issue of corporate political activism that is emerging in today’s economy. This new trend is directly opposed the mindset traditionally embraced by businesses of staying out of the political arena except to donate to both sides, and to keep their proverbial heads down.
Not so anymore. In 2016, Target gleefully announced that its customers would be permitted to use whatever bathroom they chose, regardless of their sex. The film industry and the NFL frequently threaten to withdraw business from states that have or propose Religious Freedom laws. The CEOs of Apple, Amazon, and Facebook, are all vocal and active regarding their political views. Delta Airlines issued a statement earlier this year that they would no longer offer discounts to NRA members. Superbowl Commercials have become so filled with virtue signalling and moral condescension in recent years, that they are now nearly unwatchable. The list goes on.
Reactions to companies’ decisions to enter the political arena have thus far been mixed. In 2012, Dan Cathy, CEO of the openly conservative Christian fast food chain Chick Fila, affirmed a Biblical stance on gay marriage to a reporter who asked him about his beliefs. Chick Fila faced an immediate backlash from homosexual advocates and the media. However, supporters of the restaurant staged a Chick Fila Appreciation Day in response to the outrage on which the store posted record sales. While still maligned by many on the left, Chick Fila seems to have proven bullet-proof in the ensuing years growing rapidly and now posting around $8 billion in annual sales. The same has proven true for Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple. Business remains good. Similarly, Marvel Films, and its parent company Disney have successfully thrown their weight around in Georgia to prevent any type of Religious Freedom legislation from being passed.
Things haven’t worked out so well for everyone though. Most notably, Target has struggled since its decision to change bathroom policies. The company’s stock plunged (for a variety of reasons) immediately following the announcement, and Target has suffered multiple black eyes stemming from highly publicized arrests made for lewdness and voyeurism in their bathrooms since the announcement. As a result of the fallout, the company was forced to invest $20 million in updating their stores to include one-stall, lockable, any-sex bathrooms. Similarly, legislators in Georgia decided to kill a bill in Georgia that would offer significant tax incentives for Delta as a result of the airline company’s public anti-NRA announcement.
Bank of America seems to have decided that jumping into politics by backing out of deals is, at least for the time being, a bad idea. After a social justice honeymoon of only a few weeks, Bank of America’s “brave and courageous stand” appears to now be over, or perhaps to have never even actually begun.
Reuters reported Monday, that Bank of America is goingforward with a deal to participate in a $193 million dollar loan being offered by several banks to bail out struggling gun giant Remington Arms. Remington, the maker of the popular Bushmaster AR-style rifle, filed for bankruptcy in March of this year, and is now trying to emerge with the help of the package, to which Bank of America will contribute $43.2 million.
The announcement by Ms. Finucane appears to have been nothing more than an empty virtue signal from a company that has been forced to pay $57,678,120,159 in state and federal fines and penalties for various illegal and fraudulent activities since 2000. In fact, it turns out that Bank of America also maintains loan accounts with Sturm Ruger, and Vista Outdoor, other firearms manufacturers. When it comes down to putting their money where their mouth is (or was), Bank of America apparently is all talk, no action.