An odd sense of community
By Ralph R. Reiland
Published: Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
There was a petition at my local Starbucks the other morning about the government shutdown.
Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz said he was circulating the petitions to customers nationwide because of the “sad and striking realization that the American people have no platform with which to voice their frustration and outrage over the (government) shutdown,” which ended last week.
The Starbucks petition stated: “To our leaders in Washington, D.C., now's the time to come together to: 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.”
Warning that we are “on a collision course with time,” Schultz said “the responsibility of a company of any kind is changing because we have to provide for employees, help the communities we serve, and obviously, the government is not providing the leadership it once did.”
Next to the petition were Starbucks' latest two designer cups — a cinnamon-colored one, $8.95, “Made in Thailand,” and a glossy gray one, $9.95, “Made in China.”
The bottom line for a socially responsible company like Starbucks, according to Schultz? “We don't want to ignore what we believe are our responsibilities in the communities we serve.”
That sounds good, and on the counter adjacent to the Starbucks petition and cups from Thailand and China was a shiny new “Verismo System by Starbucks,” $149 “Swiss Engineered” and “Made in China.”
Using pods, the Verismo System makes espressos, lattes, and straight coffee. The Veranda Blend pods, $11.95 for 12 cups, were marked “Coffee Roasted in the Netherlands, Coffee Packed in Germany.”
It was the same with every other pod — Pike Place, Espresso Roast, Caffe Latte — all roasted in the Netherlands, all packed in Germany and all designed to deliver “The single cup home café experience” via a “Swiss Engineered” machine that was “Made in China.”
And the idea from CEO Schultz is that Starbucks doesn't “want to ignore what we believe are our responsibilities in the communities we serve”?
Has the company ignored the possibility of having its coffee roasted in Detroit, a community that's served by Starbucks?
Today, the official unemployment rate of Detroit vastly understates the city's economic collapse because half the people have left town and are therefore uncounted as unemployed. From a peak of 1.8 million, Detroit's population has dropped to 700,000.
Further, a Detroit News survey in October 2012 found that 40 percent of Detroit's residents planned to leave the city within the next five years, citing crime as the primary reason.
In 2012, Detroit blasted its way into second place among the nation's large cities in the number of murders per 100,000 population.
“Every problem in this city revolves around jobs,” explained Lindsay Chalmers, vice president of nonprofit Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit, a few years back. And still, Starbucks is sending its beans halfway around the world to get roasted by the Dutch and packed by Germans.
It's 10,223 miles to get a coffee bean from Guatemala City to Amsterdam to Berlin to Detroit. Why not roast in Detroit, 1,900 miles from Guatemala? The aroma of roasting coffee in the morning beats the smell of gunpowder.
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kovacevic: Big Ben’s contract clock ticking
- Talented center Sutter is proving to be ‘pretty important’ for Penguins
- Western Pennsylvania engineer aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight
- Original tea partyers returning to GOP fold
- ‘Un-American’? That’s Harry Reid, the Senate’s lowly smear artist
- Penguins notebook: Beau Bennett returns to practice
- Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg to be featured in TV series
- Pitt looking to enhance profile at ACC tourney
- Analysis: Kesler still on Pens’ radar as Shero aims to bring back ‘Big 3’
- Powerful quake shakes N. California; no injuries
- Parking tickets in Downtown Pittsburgh spark outrage