How YOU Can Nullify Citizens United (Maybe) August 31, 2018August 30, 2018 Lotta tidbits for the weekend. If you don’t care about stocks — or ancient cheese — skip to the end. Otherwise . . . If you’re a WheelTug devotee, John Grund thought you might find this clip interesting. “It highlights some of the safety risks of the conventional pushback procedure.” It does indeed. It also shows a large man pulling a 737 all by himself. I contacted “the Mentour Pilot” to ask if he had heard of WheelTug. He had not. I sent him to the website. He was impressed — as have been the two dozen airlines in queue to lease systems once FAA approval is secured. Don’t sell your BOREF. If you bought SODA when I did and held on, you probably noticed that Pepsi is buying it for more than triple what you paid. I can’t take credit for your profit, because I certainly didn’t push it hard — I touted it more for reasons of mid-east peace and environmental protection than financial gain — let alone recommend that you double up when, for a while, it had fallen by 50%. (If you bought then, you’re up sevenfold.) Still, craving your love anywhere I can find it, I thought I’d pat you on the back for having had the patience to hold on and reap your reward. Not least because of how bad I feel about your having bought PRKR at $1 or so in January. I bought a little more a couple of weeks ago at 30 cents — with money, I cannot too strongly stress, that I can truly afford to lose. The company is currently valued at $12 million and may prove worthless. But if the patents that it alleges deep pockets have infringed ever yield a $100 million surprise (say), well, we could get the last laugh. You’ve done better with FANH, up from the $5.40 we paid (when the symbol was still CISG) to over $35 in June. We’ve taken some profits along the way, but I, for one, still own a lot, and was thus dismayed to read this analysis, calling the company a potentially worthless fraud. That knocked the stock back to $23 this week and led me to check in with my smart friend for comment. “Certainly a damning report,” he replied. “The company formally responded by announcing a stock buyback and hosting a conference call you can listen to here. It was essentially a 90-minute point-by-point rebuttal. I’d say their responses ranged from adequate to convincing, depending on the topic. Management has made some questionable decisions, but there is a difference between suboptimal business judgement and fraud.” Now you know as much as I do. Like my friend, I’m not selling. But who knows? Did you see they discovered 3,200-year-old cheese? Given my hobby of eating expired food, I was all set to see if I could somehow acquire a cracker’s worth — until I read the last line: “Analysis found evidence of of a bacteria that causes brucellosis, an infectious disease that [may] never go away.” If Kaopectate cured brucellosis, that would be one thing. I have an unopened bottle “exp 3/95” just in case someday I, or a guest, ever has an issue. But brucellosis sounds serious. Count me out. NULLIFYING CITIZENS UNITED. Here’s 90 seconds from the founder of Goods Unite Us explaining why and how. It’s compelling — I was surprised to learn that by buying New Balance instead of Adidas all these years I’ve been helping Republicans. And it led me to this page, where I could see which beverage brands (for example) share my politics . . . this page to peruse ratings in any category . . . and this page to look up any brand. There’s even a page that lets you rate the political impact of your brand choices (though to see the results you have to share your email, which they promise not to use for any other purpose). At first you think this is all about electing Democrats, but that in fact is not their mission — right wingers can use the site to realize they should be buying New Balance rather than Adidas. Rather, “at Goods Unite Us, our mission is to empower people to become political consumers so we can end — or at least slow down — corporate political donations.” They want all companies to get freaked out by the consequences of their big-footing the political process — whatever side their on — and dial it back. Which would give those companies a more neutral rating, and thus alienate fewer customers. I have mixed feelings about this endeavor. I’m 100% behind campaign finance reform, of course. And I also know that Democratic legislators are more likely to enact it than Republicans (because big business skews Republican). So this is one more reason I’m for electing Democrats. But I’m leery of polarizing the country even further — into blue brands and red brands. I love my New Balance sneakers; and I expect I’d like most of the people who make them and most of the people who run the company. As Trump and Putin work to divide us, should we start shunning friends who wear politically “red” sneakers or work for politically “red” companies? And vice versa? And there could be a subtler unintended consequence: To the extent Goods For Us succeeded in getting consumer-facing companies to dial back their political giving, it would shift more power to companies consumers don’t buy from — defense contractors and oil pipelines, for example. Or what about this complication? They show a photo of Obama with a Spalding basketball — ironic because Spalding is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, which they say skews Republican. Yet Warren Buffett, who runs Berkshire Hathaway, helped raise money for both Obama and Hillary and is himself a Democrat. So (a) hmmm. And (b) what if Berkshire were to acquire Ben & Jerry’s? Would that make it an ice cream brand progressives should avoid? All that said, hooray for the founders of Goods Unite Us, a well-intentioned and intriguing effort. It just might help discourage corporations from exploiting the Citizens United ruling. Which, after all, is unlikely to be overturned by this Supreme Court any time soon. Have a great weekend. And note that one of the reasons we have weekends at all is: unions. And that the party on the side of unions — and on the side of unemployment insurance and workplace safety regulations and overtime pay regulations and a higher minimum wage and the Family and Medical Leave Act — all that — is the Democratic Party. The Republican Party has fought those important middle class advances every step of the way. Join Team Blue. CrushTheMidterms. It even designs an action plan for you. MobilizeAmerica. No need to choose: sign up with all three. And if you can — click here. Happy Labor Day!