Thought for the Day: Corporate “Ethics”


Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks Coffee, is making the rounds on TV talk shows sharing his perspective on how we all should vote in the upcoming elections. To many people, this is an important endorsement, because Starbucks has a very carefully crafted global image as supporting human rights and freedoms. The only problem with their reputation is that it is largely hypocritical bullshit. 



Above, photographed on my dining room table, is all the evidence anyone needs to understand that Mr.Schultz is a first order hypocrite. This isn’t a joke, this mug was purchased in the Starbucks Hanoi location by my buddy Terry Hand. Terry knows that I detest totalitarian police states, but he sends me souvenirs like this little gem to remind me that everyone supports human rights… long as they don’t get in the way of corporate profits or put a damper on people getting to tourist sites they can brag about on their FB page.


Anyone can go to the Starbucks website, and see they have great passages devoted to supporting the human rights and liberties on ‘every employee and every location.’ The specific rights that the company will defend are listed in detail. It all sounds really great, right up to the point that common sense kicks in, and you realize that more than half the things listed, such as right to form unions and the right to free speech, are actually serious state crimes in Vietnam, and the government doesn’t hesitate to jail people for life over them. This isn’t just WW the unapologetic nationalist speaking: get a look at Amnesty International’s comments on the state human rights violations in Vietnam. Evidently, the Starbucks “Global Human Rights” statement prominently featured in their ‘holier than others’ image is secondary to opening a new store anywhere they can turn a profit. This doesn’t even touch the idea they already have 2,000 stores in China, and that worker’s paradise isn’t exactly compliant with the ethics preached on the Starbucks website. And that, makes Mr. Schultz a hypocrite.


If you personally like coffee the color of dirty motor oil, with the taste of battery acid, then I say you should buy at Starbucks. If your morning isn’t complete without having to stand in line behind grown men who got out of their Prius and couldn’t make up their mind if they wanted a “Half-Caf, non fat soil milk late” or a “no caf, Venti cafe misto” Then it is off to Starbucks; if you like being lectured that “Calling a Barista a “waitress” or any other offensive sexist demeaning name is not tolerated” than off to Mr. Shultz’s you go. But, anyone who chooses to go to Starbucks because they really believe that the company never put profit ahead of workers, has been duped. Please understand I am not suggesting that Howard Schultz is no different that other greed driven CEO’s. He is different; because he wants you to believe a fairy tale, and take your money, whereas the other CEOs just want your money.


There are 20,000 Starbucks locations on this planet, and it is a particular point of pride for me that there was one in my tiny town in rural Florida. Was, because it went bankrupt after one year. The same building is now occupied by a local, non chain coffee shop. It has been there for four years, and they are doing fine. The prices are a little lower, the smug attitudes are gone, and oh yeah, they don’t have a website full of bullshit about how much they care about human rights, nor a CEO telling me how to vote.




9 Replies to “Thought for the Day: Corporate “Ethics””

  1. You can’t find Starbucks in Israel anymore. They hated the coffee.
    Viet Nam is an interesting country. yes it is a totalitarian nation. The good thing about it is it doesn’t like or depend on China. I made this argument in early 1965 or late 1964, when they were getting us soldiers ready to be sent there. They always called on me at their own peril.
    Joe. .

    1. I totally agree with your assessment of Starbucks. What a business model…create a “coffee language” and you can sell bitter coffee to the clueless hipster zombie generation for $8 a cup. Why didn’t I think of that!!!! Throw in some free wifi so they think they’re getting a deal.

  2. Keurig took this concept one step further so you can brew ghastly cups, one at a time, in your own home for only $500. Take a look at their stock price over recent history to judge how effective they were at selling this. Personally, I use a 1950’s Corningware electric perk with a stainless steel insert that I bought from a church sale for $2. The only other coffee maker that I found that can compete was a Douwe Egberts technology that required a machine the size of a refrigerator to reconstitute it. This was so good, I would ride along, 23 miles to MGM casino just to get it. (no longer available)

  3. Starbucks is fairly new in India and way too expensive for Indian standards and yet their business is flourishing big time. I wish more people here understand about their unethical practices with time.

  4. Again, one of the benefits of being old I can get a cup of good coffee at McDonald’s for 50 cents, free refills ☕️☕️☕️And I’ll get you one William,my treat. Dan-o

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