Jonathan Last tracks the rise and fall of Starbucks with the boom and bust progress of our economy and concludes:
Today, Starbucks is laying off workers, both at the retail level and at headquarters. It has tried to find savings in unlikely places – such as changing the recipe for its banana bread. It recently made headlines by announcing that it would no longer brew drip decaf coffee in the afternoons unless a customer requested one. Expect to see the same types of gonzo attempts at savings in other industries soon.
It’s fun to root against Starbucks in the same way we root against Microsoft Corp. or the Yankees. But if Starbucks is a harbinger for the rest of our economy, we better hope that Americans go back to buying their overpriced, over-roasted coffee – soon.
But wait, we can’t let the cruel, harsh marketplace decide something as important as this, can we? Millions of Americans depend on Starbucks and it offers all that employment. What to do? In the Democrats’ economic vision, shouldn’t we be rushing to pass a Starbucks stimulus plan.
First, we give Starbucks a few billion dollars. Second, we have the taxpayers buy up all those unused, icky — dare I say “toxic” — breakfast sandwiches no one liked. Then we give tax incentives for people to buy more Starbucks drinks. And when they still won’t return to their previous buying habits, we give them coffee loans, or badger banks to give them coffee financing. Then we tell Starbucks that since they are now on the dole there won’t be any big salaries or bonuses for Starbucks executives. And if Starbucks still isn’t making money we call Dunkin’ Donuts in, read ’em the riot act and tell them to merge with their upscale competitors.
But what if there were just too many Starbucks, or they weren’t priced correctly? Maybe consumers would rather not incur more debt by taking out coffee loans. Or maybe they’d rather drink Diet Coke all day. Well, that’s just too darn bad. Starbucks is now a government-subsidized operation responsible to the “taxpayers.” And they better repay all those loans. If after all that we have more Starbucks than consumers want or need, and Starbucks doesn’t take whatever steps are needed to put their coffee houses in order, and the better executive talent has now decamped to McDonalds that’s just the natural, dismal result of . . well, it must be George Bush’s fault. Right?