Let me get this straight: Business deals in America are now being based on which place has the best pro-gay laws?
Hmmm, I seem to remember a time long ago in a galaxy far, far away when large companies weighed such factors as a community’s labor force, proximity to major highways and water and sewer availability, with maybe a few incentives thrown in for good measure.
Now PayPal – an American company that operates a worldwide online payments system – has changed that equation by adding the gay factor, with a decision to halt its plans to expand into Charlotte. This is because the company opposes North Carolina’s new law limiting LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) legal protections.
Of course, this stems from the Charlotte City Council passing a measure earlier this year to allow people to use the public restroom that best reflects their so-called “gender identity.”
Then the N.C. General Assembly called a special session to undo that ridiculous law with legislation that keeps Charlotte or another locality in the state from passing something similar. Lawmakers in Raleigh, as do most citizens in North Carolina, think such a law is open to abuse and could lead to assaults against women or children.
Now I think an important distinction should be made here: that it’s somehow not enough for society to tolerate gay people, we also must celebrate them in every way possible, whenever their behavior goes against the religious beliefs of many.
But there came PayPal to show everybody what a good guy it supposedly is by halting plans to establish a global operations center in the Queen City which would have created 400 high-paying jobs. Why? Because North Carolina doesn’t celebrate homosexual behavior lock, stock and barrel.
Yet is PayPal a good guy, really?
First of all, its decision penalizes the very city that adopted a provision favoring the transgender population. It will affect North Carolina in a roundabout way, but the real brunt of the move will impact the city through lost property tax revenues and the buying power of the 400 employees.
I wouldn’t call that a fair decision by a good guy.
Now the plot has sickened even further with multiple news organizations reporting on the blatant hypocrisy on the part of PayPal with its North Carolina decision.
Evangelist Franklin Graham points out in some of those reports that PayPal does business in places where homosexuality is illegal.
U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger also has disclosed that the company operates in a total of 25 countries where that is the case. One is Malaysia, where Penal Code 187 punishes homosexual conduct with whippings and up to 20 years in prison.
But did that stop PayPal from opening a global operations center in Malaysia in 2011, which it estimated would employ 500 workers by 2013? No.
In having facilities in such locations, it’s apparent the old reliables of economics, such as labor availability, levels of taxation, etc., have more influence on decisions by PayPal than the chance to be a white knight for a social cause.
If PayPal thought it could make billions of dollars in our state, I don’t think it would care that much about the new state law.
And while a company interested in North Carolina or some other place will weigh labor force or transportation factors in making its decision, the other side of the coin is that the state must weigh whether it is getting a good corporate citizen in return.
And in PayPal’s case, that is highly questionable.
A well-defined Internet search using the words “PayPal” and “scandal” turned up 588,000 different files, with that defined search ensuring only individual news stories or other accounts with those two words married together would appear.
Some of the news stories found contain headlines such as “U.S. regulator orders PayPal to pay $25 million in refunds” and “Currency exchange scandal by PayPal.”
Of course, even with such baggage, I’m sure GayPal, I mean PayPal, would still be accepted in North Carolina, where the economic climate dictates that just about any manufacturer or business is welcome – short of one that’s a heavy polluter or cuts heads off babies.
However, that doesn’t mean this or any other state should allow itself to be held hostage for not adhering to the latest flavor-of-the month social cause wrought by actions of the Supreme Court that now seems to be making America’s laws.
Tom Joyce is a staff writer for The Mount Airy News. He may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.