Here’s an interesting bill — H7736 — on the Freedom Index (having passed both chambers) that raises some interesting political questions. Basically, it forbids state and local government agencies from contracting with any company that is engaged in a boycott, unless the contract is very small or the company is much cheaper than competing bids.
Inasmuch as boycotting is more a thing for progressives than conservatives, particularly corporate boycotting, my gut reaction isn’t entirely negative. I mean, boycotting Israel or North Carolina for political reasons doesn’t tend to endear a company to me and, in fact, tends to encourage me to direct my business elsewhere.
Even if every corporate boycott were a creature of the Left, though, such legislation gets dangerously close to using government’s economic clout to infringe on the speech and association rights of the individuals who band together for corporate purposes. As government expands into more and more activities, increasing its role in our society, it approaches the point at which being blocked from government contracts would be a killer in more and more industries.
According to the Family Prosperity Index, using a metric that the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity also uses for its competitiveness report card, Rhode Island ranks near the back of the pack when it comes to the private sector’s portion of the economy. That means companies can be locked out of a disproportionately large part of our local economy if they don’t wrap themselves in these sorts of strings, just like the federal government’s increasing role in funding the states has given it power in direct contravention of our Constitution.