This morning, I got an email from Starbucks with the subject line "Join us. Send a message to Washington D.C." My first instinct was to click delete. However, I was curious to see what vapid "bipartisanship" that Fix the Debt aficionado Howard Schultz was pushing this time.
The email begins, "Starting today and continuing through this weekend, you can find this petition in every Starbucks store across America."
Here is the "Come Together" petition:
To our leaders in Washington, D.C., now’s the time to come together to:I have no gripe with #1. I think #2 is poorly worded. However, the big gripe I have is with #3, the call for a "bipartisan and comprehensive long-term budget deal." The "civic-minded billionaires" of Fix the Debt want a bipartisan and comprehensive long-term budget deal that cuts Social Security and Medicare and cuts their taxes. I think I'll pass.
1. Reopen our government to serve the people.
2. Pay our debts on time to avoid another financial crisis.
3. Pass a bipartisan and comprehensive long-term budget deal by the end of the year.
I think we need to have a continuing resolution to keep the government going on autopilot. However, moving forward, I'd like Congress to abide by that key principle of medical ethics: First, do no harm. And any "bipartisan and comprehensive long-term budget deal" will contain quite a lot of harm.
However, there's more that is disconcerting here than just the message because there's also the element of corporate coercion. Remember when Schultz had baristas write "Come Together" on Starbucks cups back in December in the lead up to the "austerity bomb" (commonly called "fiscal cliff")?
With six days to go before January 1st and both Clinton tax rates and the spending sequester takes effect, some in Washington are desperate to cut a deal, even if it’s a bad deal that involves painful cuts to Social Security benefits.Bosses should not have the right to assert political influence over their employees or force (or "encourage," when there is such an imbalance of power that the freedom of choice is not really there) such employees to engage in political action.
CNN reports that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has written a letter to his chain’s 120 stores in the Washington, D.C. area to ask employees there to write “Come Together” on coffee cups on Thursday and Friday.
“Rather than be bystanders, you and your customers have an opportunity — and I believe we all have a responsibility — to send our elected officials a respectful but potent message, urging them to come together to find common ground,” Schultz wrote in his letter to the stores. He also apparently cited Fix The Debt, the powerful corporate front group that has been pushing for an agreement to cut Social Security benefits and lower corporate tax rates for months.
In a statement to CNN, the company stressed that these messages are voluntary.
But by even asking employees to voluntarily influence lawmakers to reach an agreement, Schultz is inappropriately pressuring them to take a political stand they may not agree with. For example, some of these employees may benefit from veterans or Social Security benefits that are at risk of being cut in a bad deal.
Starbucks employees should be able to decide for themselves what politics they endorse and should not be asked to write these messages as a part of their employment.
If you read the letter Schultz sent out back then, it's hard not to gag at the self-satisfied high-mindedness that Schultz thought that he's displaying---while pushing to starve granny.
So, Starbucks, I'd like to see a continuing resolution, but not at sequestration levels, and I'd like to see it go through December 2014. (I'd rather Congress just repeal and not replace the sequestration cuts, frankly.) I'd like to see them not just lift, but abolish, the debt ceiling. And then after that, I want them to #stayapart.