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January 25, 2006

Beyond our Ken

Pastor Ken Hutcherson, a small-time Pacific Northwest bigot who last year almost succeeded in blackmailing Microsoft into abandoning its support for gay rights, now has a new scheme to destroy the local economy. His plan has a few flaws, however—like being financially self-immolating:

A pastor who threatened a national boycott against Microsoft and other major companies for supporting a gay civil rights bill is now urging people to buy up the companies’ stock and dump it to drive prices down.
Rev. Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in the Seattle suburb of Redmond, says he wants to use the stock market to make a political point.
… Hutcherson told The Associated Press last week he was calling for a boycott of the companies, but said Tuesday that the stock-dumping plan, which calls on people to sell the companies’ shares on May 1, had been his strategy all along.
… “For me to ask people not to buy their product would be stupid,” said Hutcherson, whose community is also home to the software company’s headquarters.

Yes it would. Which doesn’t explain why Hutcherson has done exactly that twice in the past year—both last week and last spring.

Instead, he wants his supporters to buy one or two shares over the next few months.
“All of us get together on the same day and sell our stock, just run it in the ground,” Hutcherson said.

Well, no, Ken, that ain’t gonna happen. Blame the market:

[One] market expert laughed at the idea. “The chances of him being successful with that are slim to none,” said Hans Olsen, chief investment officer at Bingham Legg Advisers.
… Olsen also said few investors would gamble their money on a political statement, especially big investors, such as those who hold major blocks of shares in mutual funds.
“The big guys, they won’t touch that with somebody’s else 10-foot pole, let alone their own,” Olsen said.

So, let’s think this through. Microsoft has about 11 billion shares outstanding with a market value of some $280 billion—plus 30,000 Puget Sound employees who would be delighted to boycott any local businesses owned by members of Antioch’s congregation.

Hutcherson has at most 3,000 followers, the majority of them too poor to splash out on Microsoft stock—even if Pastor Ken blesses the trade.

Posted by Stephen at 12:06 AM in Business | Religion + cults | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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