Points of Interest

Liberal activists should start businesses

Posted 3/18/21

It can be hard for conservatives to find much to like about David Hogg. For those who don’t know or have forgotten, Hogg is a survivor of the 2018 shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school …

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Points of Interest

Liberal activists should start businesses

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It can be hard for conservatives to find much to like about David Hogg. For those who don’t know or have forgotten, Hogg is a survivor of the 2018 shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school that left 17 people dead. Since the shooting, Hogg became a national figure in anti-gun activism. 

With 1.1 million followers on Twitter, Hogg is a popular voice for a number of left-wing causes. For example, he organized a boycott of the Fox News television show The Ingraham Angle, after host Laura Ingraham mocked him over some universities not accepting his application. The boycott did have a measurable impact on the network’s advertising revenue. 

Most recently, he started a pillow manufacturing company, called Good Pillow, because the founder of competing My Pillow, Inc., Mike Lindell, resisted the boycott and went about saying things Hogg really, really didn’t want him saying. The goal of Hogg’s venture, he has said, is to put Lindell out of business. Hogg’s company vows to support charities, be sustainably sourced and employ only American unionized manufacturers. 

I have to praise Hogg for this one, not because I have any appreciation for his politics. I think both Hogg’s positions on gun control and Lindell’s positions on voter fraud in the presidential election deserve criticism. However, I think if more liberals tried to start companies and make them profitable, we’d see a significant growth in the number of fiscal conservatives. 

After Hogg announced his intention to found a competing pillow company, in partnership with entrepreneur William LeGate, Hogg was showered with thousands of dollars of free advertising from the fawning mainstream press. Newsweek reported that Hogg’s company already had more followers on Twitter than MyPillow ever had, and the Washington Post published a doting feature on the venture. 

It would be phenomenal for a company to go from conception to production in a month, so it’s too soon to say what will come of Hogg’s business, if anything. But there’s some indication that the initiative will become a teachable moment in business for the young Hogg. The Newsweek article noted that a search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database didn’t find any companies registered under the Good Pillow name or its variants. The day after the article came out, someone registered the name. Apparently neither Hogg nor LeGate thought to register it, meaning the liberal duo’s first costly mistake will require them to rebrand the company or buy the original name from the man who swiped it. 

Lindell, on the other hand, built his business off a patented open-cell, poly-foam pillow design, which ended up selling 41 million pillows. He went from five employees in 2004 to 1,500 by 2017, using infomercials to drive sales. There is quite a bit of criticism that these pillows fail to live up to the hype of the advertising, and perhaps the market is ripe for a competitor. To his credit, when asked about Hogg’s plans, Lindell told the media company Axios, “Good for them …  nothing wrong with competition that does not infringe on someone’s patent.”

However, I’m not sure people are going to be drawn to buying a pillow from a company whose only selling point is that it wasn’t founded by a conservative. 

When Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, expressed support for traditional marriage in a 2012 interview, the left predictably threw a fit. Despite all the protests over the remarks, Chick-fil-A is today the third-largest fast food chain in the country. According to Restaurant Business, the popular chain had $11.3 billion in sales in 2019, a 13% increase year-over-year. It turns out people don’t really care about the politics of a company’s executives if it has really good products and service. 

So, unless Hogg creates superior pillow value at a price people are willing to pay, his new company will fail. Since Hogg’s sole motivation is not a vision of building a better pillow, but rather political spite, I’m betting Good Pillow won’t last into a second year. 

Should the business succeed, it will be because Hogg produced superior value for its customers, and sleepers, including insomniacs like myself, might be better off. Should it fail, I doubt it will transform Hogg into a conservative. 

The challenge of running a business, however, might give Hogg more pause when it comes to fiscally liberal policies, which are often born of little understanding of business and economics. As much as they like to tell businesses how they should be run, it’s rare any of them actually try running their own. I think if more leftists actually tried to run a business, support for minimum wage increases, business tax increases, trade restrictions and other regulations would diminish.  

So, Mr. Hogg, I wish you the best of luck in your venture, and I hope more liberals follow your lead.

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