Two websites have responded to Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay stance with a novel approach. Instead of forcing millions of Americans to chose between their fried chicken sandwiches and support for LBGT civil rights, Chicken Offset and Chick-fil-A Confessional allow people to perhaps do both.
Though glib and slightly campy, these sites represent a growing movement by economists to grapple with the fact that our individual choices have broader consequences. To our detriment, the way that both our economy and the broader society is organized often passes the costs of those choices on to others, while we solely enjoy the benefits.
These sites want to change our approach. At Chicken Offset, progressive minded Chick-fil-A addicts can purchase a $1 credit for each meal eaten at the Mayberry-esque establishment. The site pledges that $0.90 of the dollar credit will end up at It Gets Better Project or the Williams Institute. But their essential thrust of the websites is correct.
Chick-fil-A Confessional takes a slightly different approach. Instead of a flat rate, this site calculates donations based upon the amount spent at the poultry-pushing restaurants. The more you spend the more you have to give.
In addition to It Gets Better, the site lists the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD as potential beneficiaries. Recognizing the impact that the recession has had on many, “hugging a gay” is also a compensatory option offered by the site.
It would be great if these portals also listed LGBT grassroots organizations on the front lines of local communities, as well as those dealing with the crisis of queer youth of color. As our publisher, the Applied Research Center, has explored, these groups are horribly underfunded and the LGBT movement suffers as consequence.
Chicken Offset and Chick-fil-A confessional want to shift the imbalance between who benefits and who pays.
This notion builds off of the idea of carbon offsets, which allow polluters to buy carbon credits to balance out their harm to the planet. Other types of environmental offsets are at work in a number of areas and is now a multi-billion dollar market.
Another effort by the World Bank is pushing for corporations and governments to fully account for cutting down forests or draining wetlands, instead of measuring only the value of the lumber or crops produced.
The bottom line is that the Chick-fil-A offsets are a quirky example of a serious idea. They are an acknowledgement that in order to advance humanity and rescue the environment, we’ve all got to start ponying up.