Acton Institute Powerblog

Green America’s War on Restaurants

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The network of leftist shareholder activism is complex and wide-ranging. In the name of progressive causes, they pressure companies to forfeit profitability, reduce investment returns, raise costs to customers and threaten both actual and potential jobs.

It’s heartbreaking that religious shareholder groups not only willingly but passionately lend their support to secular causes promoted by US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment and Ceres. As I have noted previously, both organizations count religious shareholder groups among their respective membership rosters despite the harmful effects of US SIF and Ceres initiatives listed above.

Both US SIF and Ceres are members of Green America, a nonprofit boasting its “mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.” Sigh.

Last week, Green America blasted a fundraising email trumpeting the organization’s efforts against family friendly restaurant chains LongHorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden, which are both operated under parent company Darden. The entire email is below, but I’ll cut to the chase for those possessing little patience for the bossy boots desires of Green America’s Director of Consumer Advocacy Elizabeth O’Connell: Institute all sorts of expensive progressive “solutions” to perceived free-market problems, including raising employee salaries to a “livable wage;” reducing portion sizes in response to American obesity; and altering menus to include more organic and vegetarian selections. Did I mention Darden operates LongHorn Steakhouse? In other words, nothing more than one-size fits-all solutions that ignore profitability, economics, consumer choices and, in short, reality.
Olive Garden EmailThrough their associations with US SIF and Ceres, such religious shareholder activists as As You Sow and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility actually help support such harmful nonsense. More’s the pity.

Bruce Edward Walker has more than 30 years’ writing and editing experience in a variety of publishing areas, including reference books, newspapers, magazines, media relations and corporate speeches. Much of this material involved research on water rights, land use, alternative-technology vehicles and other environmental issues, but Walker has also written extensively on nonscientific subjects, having produced six titles in Wiley Publishing’s CliffsNotes series, including study guides for "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest." He has also authored more than 100 critical biographies of authors and musicians for Gale Research's Contemporary Literary Criticism and Contemporary Musicians reference-book series. Most recently, he was managing editor of The Heartland Institute's InfoTech & Telecom News. Prior to that, he was manager of communications for the Mackinac Center's Property Rights Network. He also served from 2006-2007 as editor of Michigan Science, a quarterly Mackinac Center publication. Walker has served as an adjunct professor of literature and academic writing at University of Detroit Mercy. For the past three years, he has authored a weekly column for the mid-Michigan Morning Sun newspaper. Walker holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University. He is the father of two daughters and currently lives in Midland, Mich., with his wife Katherine.


  • Todd Johnson

    Portions too big? Headline, Darden’s new Mother Earth Initiative forces customers to ‘clean their plates’ to stop food waste. Saves millions in take home bags and thousands of busboys lose their jobs.

    Why does doing good for the environment or any other endeavor always involve take away a consumers choice? Let Green America start a competing restaurant next door to each Darden’s matching their menus, much like Burger King and Wendy’s does with McDonands, while offering an organic food and free range meat menu. Let consumers choose!

    A living wage? When everyone at Green America buys lunch or coffee each and every day, do they tip enough so each worker in the restaurant can earn their arbitrary ‘living’ wage? Or do they just pay list price for the products they purchase? I suspect they may tip something, but do not donate enough to cover their ‘living’ wage. It is hard to take the argument seriously when 9 or the 14 jobs posted on their site (11/3/15 are for partime internships paying only $50/wk travel stipend and ‘course credit’ for 16hrs/wk work. Forget that this paltry amount is for travel, this $3.13/hr rate is only 32% of the D.C. MINIMUM WAGE and only 21% of the D.C. ‘living wage’ since they are working on K street. Nice resume item if you can fit it into your private university schedule, but I don’t suppose they get many parents applying for these positions?

    Darden’s employs thousands of people in hundreds of cities/communities where cost of living varies greatly. If Darden is not competitive (menu prices or wages) then they will not survive in a market and those people will lose their jobs. Is a person better or worse off without a job because they won’t be buying much free range beef if they don’t have a job.