“The Incredible Economic Costs of Political Censorship”

That’s the title of a long, but very interesting article by Aaron Clarey about the real cost of political correctness and “woke”-ness to the US economy, both businesses and consumers.  He goes into a lot of detail about how political and social issues are creating an economic burden of colossal proportions.  Here’s a lengthy excerpt from a still longer article, which I do recommend you read in full.

So what is politics but a dump truck full of sand being poured into the US economic engine?

Here this is not so much Big Tech as it is every company that has decided to pursue a marketing strategy of [corporate social responsibility] and corporate virtue signalling.  The explicit financial outlays corporations have made to “celebrate diversity” or “celebrate Gay Pride month” or hire something as wasteful as a “Diversity and Inclusion VP” … is a profligate waste of money.

. . .

But real cost to the US economy comes at the micro-economic level.  Specifically, “diversity/sensitivity/sexual-harassment/CSR/otherwise-political” meetings.

Why an accountant has to sit through a meeting of any political flavor is beyond any sane, rational person’s guess.

Why you’re forcing your entire labor force into an “environmentalism” meeting to “save the planet” can only be a statement to your political-radicalism and not your ability to be a manager.

And why you shut down the presses, so you can have some huckster in the form of a “diversity consultant” insult your entire staff by falsely accusing the of race/sexism, means you’re just a grade a political prick who really wants to destroy employee morale.

With employers replacing merit with traits, they not only piss off their largely un-bigoted labor force, they also heavily disincentivize people to perform their best.  And as they promote people based on the color of their skin and not their content of character, there is a huge talent loss to the corporate sector of the economy.  So when you tally up the costs of:

  • The explicit financial costs expended on political virtue signaling
  • Lost economic production do to unnecessary meetings
  • The demoralization of your employees accusing them of being race/sexist
  • The loss of loyalty from your employees
  • The lower economic production
  • The exodus of your best talent to competitors or self employment

The total economic costs to society are easily in the hundreds of billions of dollars per year.

But this is just one example of political grains of sand getting in everybody’s engine.  The (largely) leftist political zeitgeist is everywhere in the US.

I’ve spent about a week’s worth of labor going through THREE different merch sites because Cafepress won’t allow “guns” on their products, Redbubble won’t allow anything Corona-related, and Zazzle is just a nightmare of an interface to use.

A buddy of mine I know uses his wife’s SS number as a shell company to get government contracts because “vagina > dick.”

Nearly every college student has to waste 2 years and $40,000 taking unnecessary leftist-liberal arts prereqs to get degrees that has nothing to do with them.

And how many death by a thousand cuts do you think these debatably-valid mask mandates are costing society both in terms of micro-economic costs as well as mental illness?

These daily micro-transactions/costs add up, slowing economic production as we waste time jumping over these unnecessary hurdles, all because corporations (among other institutions) insist on politics and political censorship.

And then finally, switching costs.

Though, not major, if corporate politics gets too insulting, people will leave.  This was the case where nearly every corporation converged and universally took a knee, and sent out some kind of lecturing “letter from the CEO” essentially accusing their entire customer base of being rac/sexist.  The taste left in customers’ mouths when corporations go political is not pleasant to any one.  But being accused of being “toxic,” “racist,” “sexist,” or plain simple “evil” is not acceptable at all.  And so now many people want to leave certain corporate brands and find new ones.

In the case of Gillette razors, this is simple.  You simply don’t buy Gillette or any Proctor and Gamble product.  But what about cell phone providers?  Retirement brokerages?  Banks?  Or anything more infrastructural to your life?

Now we once again have a triple cost of labor.

The customer has to go and research and find a company that isn’t a marxist, insulting, sanctimonious, virtue-signaling slime bucket (which is harder than you think as all corporations have jumped on the virtue signaling bandwagon).

The customer also has to change and update all their credit card numbers/billing addresses/EIN/etc. etc. (I got to have this fun experience when I was switching from Patreon to Subscribestar).

The company losing the customer now has to spend resources on closing the account, but not first without having the uneviable customer service rep waste resources trying to plead with you to stay.

Then the company acquiring the new customer has to spend resources setting up your new account.  Happy as they may be to take your apolitical business, they still need to spend resources setting it up.

If corporations had just shut the f up about politics in the first place, following the golden rule of you don’t talk politics or religion, they could have kept their clients, saved their money, and people would have been happy with the good product at a fair price they were selling.  But no, corporations had to get woke, they had to introduce politics, and now we all get to spend our afternoons changing usernames and passwords…which, if you didn’t know, doesn’t improve the economy or society.

In the end there is no way to tally what the costs of politics, political censorship, and corporate virtue signaling is.  As an economist I would put the back-of-napkin calculations at easily half a trillion in explicit financial costs, but (more importantly) easily two trillion in lost potential economic production.  And this says nothing of the ancillary mental and psychological costs of stress, frustration, anger, even suicide/depression people suffer (least of all, those unfortunate souls who have to sift through all the horrific content being uploaded to Big Tech platforms).  But whatever the number, it is a steep price to pay to either pander to advertisers’ political sensibilities, pander to society’s preferred politics, or to pander to the political pet-projects of the now-Gen X managerial class who truly believe “diversity” is a marketing strategy.

There’s much more at the link.  Very worthwhile reading, and food for thought.



  1. I did not have to change accounts or passwords, but recently when McDonald's gave $10 million to black crap matters, I quit going tp mickey d's.But you can't avoid giving moola to all evil companies- they change names and are bought up by new owners every day. But I try.

  2. Hey Peter;

    What I have tried to explain to people is that other countries ain't doing all these crap, we don't have the Indians or the Chinese being all "Woke",They are "all Business" and if we don't get our head on straight, they will clean our clock on the world economy because we are being self absorbed and stupid and they are focused on the brass ring.

  3. damned near 60, 20 year old Dell laptop and a 10 year old mac I resurrected last month. Apple iphone 4 and I changed the battery myself in about an hour last year. I don't buy gillette products anymore and leave the woke to themselves. I find it impossible to watch TV news, PBS or listen to NPR although I do give the Sunday NYT a glance just to see what kind of woke madness they're pitching each week. Where I live I see the Biden lawn signs in front of some houses, but just a few houses overall. What I find comfort in is that any house holder with no Biden sign is almost surely going to vote for Trump and there are far more houses without signs than ones with. Go out in the country and there are very few Biden signs at all.

  4. Good find! That's the other reason I keep coming back here 🙂

    Re China: weren't they supposed to collapse under the weight of their internal contradictions? Yet they seem to be thriving.

    They don't allow freedom of speech there. While the West has been catching up to them in suppressing dissent, we are still much less bad than China.

    How can China be so successful economically when they rigidly enforce one-party rule and brutally persecute dissidents. Conventional wisdom is that totalitarian rule stifles creativity and prevents emergence of a middle class.

    That is a conundrum. It genuinely puzzles me.

  5. Clarey would be a lot easier to take seriously if he weren't so hyperbolic, particularly when it comes to the cost of college. The average cost of in-state tuition at public colleges (where the vast majority of students go) is around $10,000 a year, so at most your average college student is "wasting" $20,000 on their gen ed courses, and probably not even that much, seeing as they usually involve at least one foundational course for any degree.

  6. Another example of corporate cancer idiocy:

    Lay off 600 people. Two months later, give 20K employees a "day of reflection" for Juneteenth. Using a modest number as a per day salary, we're talking $6-8M just in salary alone, forgetting the lack of output.

    We're waiting, with anticipation, our diversity and inclusion goals for 2020-2021.

    I find it funny that my boss was the only executive to not have a struggle session on our FY kickoff.

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