I happened across this video by this crusty old geezer in a sleeveless t-shirt and leather cap called The Kid From Brooklyn the other day in which he ruminates about a visit to Starbucks (see it here.) Evidently, the "Big Man" got up one morning in a mood for a cup of coffee and a piece of pound cake. Having fled from his native Brooklyn to New Jersey, he ended up at your friendly neighborhood Starbucks where he was appalled to find that his coffee and pound cake was going to be $7.75. Incensed, he went around the corner to the local pancake house and got a full breakfast for about $8.25 that kept him from being hungry for the rest of the day. After dropping the F-bomb about 30 times in about 4 minutes, The Kid From Brooklyn asks "what about the #%@&in' working man?" when it comes to that Starbucks coffee and pound cake.
Well, there's part of me who wants to tell him that a decent part of that $7.75 goes to working people. Say what you will about Starbucks, but they do try to do something take care of their employees. Anyone working more than something like 20 hours a week at Starbucks is entitled to full health benefits. The CEO's parents nearly went bankrupt due to health problems when he was growing up, and he doesn't want that to happen to any of his baristas. Starbucks also tries to make sure to buy from responsible coffee farmers in the tropics, encouraging coops of small growers to give people a living, and ensuring that larger growers pay field hands a living wage. I don't know how much of this talk is really just good public relations, but, I have to give them credit for even trying. When was the last time you heard of McDonald's doing anything like that?
We live in the Walmart age. A working man doesn't get paid a living wage anymore when corporate America can get away with it. If corporate America can get away with it, companies like Walmart encourage their suppliers to move operations overseas to places like southern China... where the cost of labor is much less and the environmental impact standards are much lower. Between that and destroying local businesses with chain superstores, the Walmarts of this country make it cheaper and more affordable for Americans to live except when it comes to paying taxes to local governments, giving people jobs, and making sure they are well paid.
I see what you're saying Kid From Brooklyn... but as usual, there's more to the story than that.
on 2006-06-29 at 8:56 p.m.
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