Monday, July 21, 2008

"Save our Starbucks" campaign a little hard to swallow

I was just striving for a little satire Friday, when I suggested that the closing of 600 Starbucks stores might lead to a federal "barista bailout," given the government's fondness for rescuing in-over-their-heads mortgage holders and "too-big-to-fail" financial institutions. It was all just a spoof, obviously. But attempting satire is a risky proposition in these surreal times, when the unthinkable has become commonplace.

No, I am not reporting today that a "barista bailout" actually is in the cards, though one might yet materialize if the "Save our Starbucks" campaign reported on in today's Wall Street Journal gains enough momentum. Pandering politicians are always looking to address a perceived "crisis" and woo a constituency, so it doesn't take much to get their attention. And a heavily caffeinated constituency is one worth cultivating.

Folks who find their friendly neighborhood Starbucks store indispensable might try to avert the closures by doubling or tripling up on their daily diet of expensive coffee drinks, making these stores too profitable to close. Instead, as has become typical in contemporary America, they organize, protest and sign petitions, evidently angling for third-party intervention.

Perhaps such pleas will lead Starbucks corporate to reconsider certain closures, given the company's desire to appear more like a charity for coffee pickers than a cutthroat capitalist enterprise. But what other party might many of the petitioners have in mind when they demand that someone save their Starbucks? That party is government, of course -- sadly demonstrating that some Americans are as hooked on state-centered "solutions" as they are on the evil bean.

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