August 3, 2012

In her July 28 column, “Indigestion over Chick-fil-A,” Alexandra Petri lamented those boycotting Chick-fil-A. She explained herself by saying, “Is this a selfish position? Yes. But it’s consistent.” But what if I had a way to help people keep eating Chick-fil-A without feeling incredibly selfish?

I have three guiding principles here: I won’t punish a Chick-fil-A franchisee or employee for president Dan Cathy’s beliefs about same-sex marriage (likewise, after the Deepwater Horizon spill, I sought out BP stations to make up for those avoiding them); I am uninterested in drastically changing my habits; and I don’t want to feel bad about my purchases.

So I intend to adapt an idea from Kenneth Lay. In the 1990s, the Enron chief felt bad about his company’s effect on the environment. He, too, was uninterested in changing habits. So he supported carbon offsets.

If an energy company can pay off its environmental sins, I can pay off my fast-food political sins. I can offset the hate of the franchises I frequent. I will list the organizations I learn that I disagree with. Then I will save my receipts from those locales and at the end of every month calculate my total spent. Next I will take 5 percent of that total and donate it to some organization that fights for my values. That donation would more than offset any negative effect of my unethical expenditures and would clear my conscience.

This is my free-market solution to deal with that pesky American problem of political discourse.

Aaron Ghitelman, Washington

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