Be Careful, Burger King, or We Really May Have It OUR Way

The latest gimmick in the rich getting richer at the expense of the unrich is a business maneuver called “inversion.” Inversion a process in which a fabulously successful and amazingly profitable company buys a much less successful and much less profitable company located in another country and then moves its headquarters to that other country, thereby evading much of its U.S. tax obligation and screwing ordinary working people who routinely and unquestioningly pay their fair share of taxes every year.

The latest to pursue inversion is Burger King – you know, makers of tasteless hamburgers and other food that is both bad for you and just plain bad. Burger King is by no means a pioneer in this practice: Pfizer, Applied Materials, Medtronic, Mylan, and Chiquita are also pursuing inversion these days and among those that have already turned their backs on their country in this manner are Tyco, Fruit of the Loom, Endo International, and Perrigo (which makes many generic drugs). (And then there are companies like Apple that take as much of their work out of the country as they possibly can, but that’s an entirely different rant.)

Congress and the Obama administration are looking for ways to stop inversion, but even if there are such ways, you can be pretty sure they’re not going to agree on anything anytime soon because timely and needed action appears to be well beyond the capacity of the people ostensibly representing the public’s interests in Washington these days. That means that if companies that do this are going to be punished in any way, the job of administering that punishment is going to have to be undertaken by the companies’ customers.

Sometimes, it’s just not going to be realistic for individual consumers to punish these companies. If you need a cardiac defibrillator implanted in your chest, you’re not going to say to your heart surgeon “Please, can you get a defibrillator from someone other than Medtronic?” If that new laptop or tablet you have your eye on has products in it made by Applied Materials, you’re probably not going to launch a fresh search for the ideal alternative. And if you have an infection that just won’t go away and your doctor says you need the antibiotic Zyvox, you’re not really in a position to tell your doctor “No, I don’t want to use any Pfizer products.”

But Burger King? Nobody needs Burger King. McDonalds, Wendy’s, diners, neighborhood places, lunch trucks, and many others can certainly produce hamburgers and french fries and frozen chicken patties as bland as Burger King. And have you noticed the proliferation of new burger chains in recent years – chains all shiny and new and trying different things and jockeying eagerly for your business?

burger kingWe might not be in a position as individuals to punish the Medtronics and Tycos and Pfizers of the world for turning their backs on their country and leaving those they leave behind with the tab, but we certain can send a message to run-of-the-mill, nothing-truly-special-to-offer establishments like Burger King by simply choosing not to patronize their stores anymore and giving our business instead to companies that aren’t trying to squeeze every drop of profit out of their business, no matter what the cost to their customers, their neighbors, and their country.

The folks at Burger King used to tell us that we could have it our way, and it turns out that they’re right: we CAN have it our way by showing them how we feel about the stunt they’re trying to pull and spending our disposable food money anywhere but in their restaurants.



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