Unethical Smoothie Bar of the Month: The “I Love Drilling Juice & Smoothie Bar” of Vernal, Utah


 As you can see from the sign above, the I Love Drilling Juice and Smoothie Bar in Vernal, Utah, owned and operated by a local pro-oil and gas activist George Burnett, charges liberals an extra dollar for its fare. The smug owner then donates the proceeds from his partisan surtax to  the Heritage Foundation and other conservative organizations.

I hate to pop Mr. Burnett’s self-satisfied balloon, but his stunt is unethical and profoundly un-American. The former is best illustrated by the scheme’s obvious failure to satisfy Kant’s Rule of Universality, a.k.a. the “What if everybody did this?” test. If every business discriminated on the basis of political and ideological belief, daily life would be unbearably complicated, contentious, and nasty, with all communities broken into exclusive, inconvenient and hostile camps. The practice of making people pay extra for basic goods and services according to whether their politics are Blue or Red is also hostile to basic American principles of respectful diversity, open minds, and civil discourse. Yes, Burnett’s  liberal tax is legal and constitutional. But it is unfair, and violates the principle, if not the letter, of equal treatment for all. Punishing citizens for their beliefs is bullying, whether the culprit is a city mayor who wants to ban a business because its owner opposes gay marriage, or an arrogant activist who wants to make anyone who disagrees with “drill baby drill!” to have to pay more for smoothies.

It’s unnecessary to expend much energy tracing the roots of Burnett’s misguided assault on independent thought. Obviously it springs from the irresponsible tendency of both political parties and the various media voices that support them to demonize and denigrate any one holding opposing views. The fact that our sick political culture is moving in the direction of intolerance and polarization, however, does not excuse Burnett from piling on and making things even worse. Conservative smoothie-consumer Corey Peterson told a Utah TV station,

“For him to do this kind of puts a face out there on people who are, in my opinion, in the wrong. ‘In the wrong’ being liberals. To see them being charged a little bit more, it makes me happy.”

Yeah Cory, and I hope you’re similarly happy when you have to pay a “conservative surtax” when you go to a restaurant in San Francisco.

I like smoothies, I think more drilling is a good idea, and I detest boycotts on principle. I’d boycott Mr. Burnett’s vile establishment. I think any American who believes in free expression, mutual respect and productive civic dialogue should boycott it too. What he is doing is dangerous, for reasons that have nothing to do with his political beliefs. If Americans begin punishing each other for having different views, democracy is done for.


Source: KSL

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.


18 thoughts on “Unethical Smoothie Bar of the Month: The “I Love Drilling Juice & Smoothie Bar” of Vernal, Utah

  1. Reblogged this on DeborahBidwell's Blog and commented:
    as much as I disagree with you I believe as a business owner he is attempting to serve his niche, is it unethical, possibly, but I have made a point of eating chix filet, as well I shop at hobby lobby because of what is happening to them by our government

      • funny you would say that considering I just received a phone call from my son who was fired for wearing a rebel flag t-shirt to work, I am to the point of not understanding this world or this Nation any longer, fyi I am part native and look it, he is obviously part native and looks all white except in summer when he tans reverse racism is alive and well in the US of A

        • And why was he fired for wearing the rebel flag? Does he work with customers? Did he violate a sane dress policy?

          I don’t see anything from your post that suggests there is racism against white people. Also, it might be in your best interest to avoid crap terms like “reverse racism”. Racism against whites is what you mean, not treating people fairly.

          • ok I will agree with racism against whites, as for the working with customers no, the company is a manufacturing company, and he had asked previously of the temp service that placed him there if the shirt was ok, he was wearing it at the time when he went for training and they approved it.

  2. Is it still unethical if the price discrimination happens implicitly vs explicitly? For example, starbucks does some proper price discrimination concerning capucino (as well as other things:link: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/everyday_economics/2006/01/starbucks_economics.html?nav=navoa), however, starbucks also does price discriminate (perhaps inadvertently, but I doubt it somewhat since I think they have a preferred clientelle) concerning liberals since they charge extra to say they use fair trade coffee (although, perhaps one would call this a service) which causes higher prices for those who wish to do something of questionable economic efficiency, but seems to be a cause associated with liberalism.

    I know it’s a bit of a thought experiment, but I’m just wondering whether the explicitness is what makes this unethical, since the main goal is obviously attempting an explicit insult, although there are ways to do it that are less obvious, which the parties themselves would consider fair.

  3. Does George Burnett divide everyone into either a conservative or a liberal? I consider myself to be a moderate. Would I still have to pay the extra $1 or would I be charged only 50 cents extra, or would I be quized on whichever political issue he considers to be important at the moment and charged accordingly?

  4. TOTALLY AWESOME. HOW CAN I DONATE? THIS IS A TRUE AMERICAN…stupid liberals getting their feelings hurt…LOL

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