There was a sidebar ad (odd how I still get those even though I presumably have a paid membership - oh well, sometimes they are amusing) asking if I supported this business.

Gotta tell ya - I don't "support" businesses, I patronize them.  

Yes, it's semantics, but if we aren't clear in our speech, how can we be clear in our thoughts and purposes?

I support causes, charities, and even politicians. I support hem because they are working to directly affect and improve society.  That is their purpose and their goal. Theoretically. I do not get anything back directly from supporting these agencies, but I do expect to see some visible effect in society.

Businesses - not so much.  Businesses are in it for personal profit. They expect to make money, to gain the prestige that comes with having lots of money. One of the ways they make money is by supporting the causes and charities in the communities in which they do business - it's good for business. Supporting local causes and charities makes customers friendlier and more willing to patronize the business and to spend their money there.  

With a cause or a charity, the pay-off could be years away, even decades or longer.  There may never be an over-all payback if the cause or charity involves something that appears to be an on-going condition or repeating circumstances - poverty, orphans, abandoned animals, illnesses, disasters. They get a good feeling helping out.  And they know, deep in their hearts, that maybe someday they might be on the receiving end, or someone they love might be on the receiving end and all the while hoping they never need the services and support of that charity or cause.

With a business, you exchange money for a product or service.  The product or service may make you happy, but it doesn't give you the same good feeling supporting causes and charities do.  That is because businesses are ultimately selfish - even if they donate to local causes and charities, they do so in the expectation that it will increase business for them, not to strengthen the society. People shop at businesses and expect an immediate payback in the form of goods or services. If they don't get what they paid for, they get upset - and with good reason.

Support is for selfless acts - charities, causes, friends in need - emotionally or otherwise.

Patronage is for selfish acts - businesses or for-profit ventures.

If you ask me if I support a business, I will always say "No."  I patronize them, give them my money in exchange for goods or services. I expect them to accord me a certain level of respect, and I expect to receive what I pay for.

I support causes, charities, family, and friends. I don't expect to ever receive anything back except the knowledge that they received the help they needed.

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