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Denying the symptoms

August 26, 2014

Burger King, the latest high profile U.S. company to announce plans to leave the U.S. via the merger route,  joins a growing list of other firms  doing the same thing.

Predictably, there are calls from politicians to boycott them for that decision, to vote with your feet and your wallet, if you will. Other politicians want to imprison them with retaliatory regulations.

That’s a common reaction to a product, or in this case a business practice we don’t like, and it’s certainly everyone’s right to consider that strategy.

So why isn’t it corporate America’s right as well, and what is that business strategy telling us?

If everyone in the U.S. who is unhappy with some facet of our government left, it would be the best climate control strategy ever devised in our country. Prairie dogs and deer don’t have much of a carbon footprint.

The process of relocating to another country, known as corporate inversion, isn’t cheap.  It involves buying another company already located in whatever country interests you, and reams of regulatory paperwork.

It isn’t always about taxes and regulations. Sometimes a company finds that the largest share of its customers reside outside the U.S., or the raw materials it needs to operate are simply easier and cheaper to access at their source.

Still, the acceleration in corporate migration roughly mirrors the reasons people have always migrated.

Something catastrophically amiss at their home base drives them out.

The Irish migrated to the U.S. because of the Potato Famine that began in 1845. The residents of the original thirteen colonies moved west seeking better, cheaper land. Mexicans come here because they don’t see a future in Mexico. Birds and animals  migrate because their food source runs out or because the weather challenges their survival.

Migration is often a symptom of some insurmountable challenge in the local environment.  It’s hardly likely to be a coincidence that as the political climate becomes more and more anti-business, we are seeing an increase in these businesses voting with their feet.

You wouldn’t ignore a high fever or convulsions in your child. Why would we  ignore the symptoms of an unbalanced political agenda manifesting within the business community?

From → op-ed

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