Howard Schultz for President???

Howard Schultz - CBS News

When Howard Schultz announced that he was thinking about running for President in 2020 he came at me out of the blue. I do not keep up with corporate leaders, except the most obvious ones, like those who made their fortunes in technology. I realized I knew nothing about him, except he was introduced as the retired CEO of Starbucks. I also knew very little about Starbucks as a company except that you can find one almost anywhere. Starbucks hit my small city very late and just at the same moment that Tim Horton’s Coffee shops (of Canada) were being built and Dunkin’ Donuts was making big moves in our small market. When New York passed the $15.00/hour minimum wage (to be phased in), Starbucks abruptly pulled out, but given all the competition, the reason for pulling out may not have been a result of the new law. The reason is actually unknown to me. Tim Horton’s pulled out at the same time. However Dunkin’ Donuts kept expanding and is still building new coffee shops here.

It turns out that things I have learned about Howard Schultz make him a fairly unusual CEO because he has shown a willingness to offer social and financial programs for his employees (who he calls partners) and has shown a cultural consciousness that is out-of-step with these times, when most businesses seem to have cut back on employee perks.

An Abbreviated Timeline

In 1988, he offered full health benefits to eligible full- and part-time employees, including coverage for domestic partnerships.

In 1991 he offered a stock option program which was even open to part-time employees.

In 1992 he took the company public with an IPO.

In 1998 he opened in underserved neighborhoods through a joint-venture partnership with Magic Johnson.

He also started the CUP fund, an emergency financial assistance fund for partners (employees).

In 1999 Schultz bought Tazo Tea. He joined with Conservation International to promote sustainable coffee-growing practices. He bought Hear Music. He also signed a licensing agreement with TransFair USA to sell Fair Trade certified coffee in the US and Canada.

In 2002 he made Wi Fi available.

In 2006 his stores began using the 1st paper beverage cup containing post-consumer recycled fiber.

In 2007 he eliminated the use of artificial trans-fat and switched to 2% milk for all espresso beverages.

In 2008, Howard Schultz became the CEO (new title) and adopted a new mission statement, “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” He opened Starbuck’s first online community, joined Twitter, and debuted the Starbucks Facebook page.

In 2009 Schultz opened the first Farmer Support Center in Kigali, Rwanda.

In 2010 customers got unlimited free Wi Fi.

In 2011 the company celebrated its 40 th anniversary with a Global Month of Service.

He opened two community stores, one in Harlem, one in the Crenshaw neighborhood, also a second Farmer Support Center in Mbeya, Tanzania. He launched Create Jobs for USA to encourage small business.

In 2012 Schultz opened Farmer Support Centers in Manizales, Columbia and Yunnan, China. He bought Teavana.

In 2013 Schultz opened a coffee-farming research and development center in Costa Rica to strengthen ethical-sourcing.

He reinforced his commitment to marriage equality.

In 2014 he launched Starbucks College Achievement Plan with Arizona State University giving partners an opportunity to complete a college degree through ASU’s online degree program.

He hosted a series of Partner open forums to discuss race relations in America after a misstep that was creating waves in the media.

In 2015 Starbucks stock split for the sixth time.

Schultz committed to hiring 10,000 opportunity youth by 2018.

He expanded Starbucks college achievement plan to offer full tuition coverage for all four years of an undergraduate degree program to qualifying Starbucks partners hoping for up to 25,000 degrees by 2025.

He achieved the goal of 99% ethically-sourced coffee.

This time line ended in 2015.

https://www.starbucks.com/about-us/company-information/starbucks-company-timeline

Corporate Expansion

The same source offers these facts: Howard Schultz joined Starbucks in 1982 as Director and bought Starbucks in 1987. By the end of 1987 there were 17 Starbucks “stores”. By the middle of 2015 the number was 22,519 and by 2018, a Google search says the number is over 28,000. In 1982 there were “stores” in the US and Canada only. By 2015 there were “stores” in 67 countries. (Most “stores” are coffee shops.)

Observations

Clearly Howard Schultz is a very good businessman. He did not just build coffee shops; he acquired roasting facilities, he answered the demand that coffee beans be purchased through fair trade arrangements, he went to the countries that grew coffee and opened farmer support centers, he made sure that he opened and could control his own research and development center in the interests of quality, but also in the interests of using coffee that was ethically-sourced. Other than that he just sort of stamped out Starbucks shops everywhere, and it also seems he was willing to close shops that were not profitable.

He was willing to install certain progressive programs to benefit his employees. Employees who reviewed Starbucks online praised the health plans offered by the company. He was willing to treat all couples, same-sex, traditional, even unmarried, as couples for the purposes of health insurance. Stock options, if affordable, could have offered good returns (even great returns). And free college, although a fairly recent offering, is something most retail companies do not offer, although some offer help with college expenses. Obviously he gets points for having a social conscience.

What bothers me is the Capitalist “imperialism” of  a policy of manifest destiny that insists on planting Starbucks retail outlets in more and more locations and in more and more nations. Coffee has appealed to humans ever since it left the lands of its origin and came into general use. People love their coffee. Many nations had excellent indigenous coffees before Starbucks arrived on the scene. How many of these coffee customs have lost ground, and how much homogeneity has entered the world coffee scene? There is a race to monopolize the coffee market evident in this kind of aggressive expansion that seems a bit piggy. How many coffee shops will be enough for Howard Schultz? Will he be able to quit his obsession with world conquest if he becomes President or will it end up being Trump 2.0, at least in terms of conducting a personal business while running the government. Although Howard Schultz has retired what will he do if his business falls on hard times.

Another thing that really bothered me about Howard Schultz was his insistence that he would like to be a centrist, although he ran his business as someone who is somewhat progressive. And then he had a strong negative reaction when he was asked about raising taxes. He gave a  response typical of a billionaire, who had worked hard and believed he deserved to keep what he had earned with the sweat of his brow or the brain cells in his well-educated brain. He didn’t give much credit to his beloved “partners” (employees) who made his retail operation function and allowed him to conquer markets around the world. He is only one person. He could not have met his grand expectations all alone. If you look up salaries of Starbucks employees, they are not terrible, but they are also not great. Waiters/Waitresses make about $5.45/hour, not counting tips. Baristas make from $8 to $12/hour based on length of service. What employees complained about most was a lack of opportunities to advance. To advance you have to leave, but you can now leave with a college degree that is paid for, which is something.

https://www.glassdoor.com/Hourly-Pay/Starbucks-Barista-Hourly-Pay-E2202_D_KO10,17.htm

https://www.indeed.com/cmp/Starbucks/reviews

I admire what Howard Schultz has been able to accomplish, at the same time I find myself a bit nauseated by the excessive and obsessive number of shops he has felt driven to build, staff, and brand. Personally I will not vote for any millionaire or billionaire who thinks they profited completely by their own efforts, who chose to expand instead of sharing the wealth with employees, and who thinks raising taxes on the very wealthy is shocking and something they would never consider, even as they were supposed to consider the needs of our entire nation. Such a person would come to office with a bias that would not allow them freedom of action.

An additional objection came almost immediately from the media who expressed a belief that if Howard Schultz runs as an Independent,  putting a third party in play, it will make if more likely that Trump will win a second term. If people are told that Howard Schultz was the marketer who gave Starbucks such a well-known brand and such an enormous market presence, with big profits from sales of items that cost relatively small amounts, chances are many voters will check no further. They may think that they can trade in a tainted tycoon for a shinier one. The newest Democrats have no problem with Schultz running. They would like to see more political parties offering candidates to voters. As for me, I won’t mind seeing more parties and more choices but I think this may be a bad time to make that move. I don’t even want to wait until 2020 to be done with 45. Four more years after that makes me think that one more election cycle with only two major political parties would be just fine, as it gives us the best chance to elect #46, who is highly unlikely to be an Independent.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – CBS News

 

Everyone Has Something to Say About the Democrats

crazy Dems Fox News

The Democrats – the Focus of Some Fascination

Democrats have become the focus of lots of attention since 2018. Some of this focus is actually because, against all Republican attempts to rig the system in their favor (voter suppression, gerrymandering, propagandizing), Democrats managed to elect a majority to the House of Representatives. Some of this attention arises from the shock of a party who thought they had set up a situation where they would be the majority party in perpetuity going forward. Republicans felt that they had begun the dissolution of the Democratic Party. There was also shock on the part of our president whose ego kept telling him that he was universally beloved.

Republicans clearly will want to attack Democrats in any way they can, in hopes that winning these seats in the House is merely an anomaly or that a blue wave can easily turn red again. Republicans who make all party members memorize “talking points”  and pass purity tests are astonished and entertained at the diversity among Democrats and thrilled to speculate that trying to embrace so many voices will be the Party’s downfall.

And the new Democrats, who are seen as almost radicals even by more moderate Democrats, are swimming against lots of speculation in the media about whether the party is actually a big enough tent to include all of the different levels of policy that exist under that tent without splintering in enough pieces to make reelection of Trump inevitable.

The media seems almost as gleeful as the Republican Party at the prospect of a Democratic Party in disarray. They have made Alexandria Ocasio Cortez a darling of the media, but not always out of interest in what she espouses, but rather to present her as the new, extremely radical face of the newest members of the Democratic Party. She also has plenty of poise and gives a very good interview, which adds to her appeal.

Media seems to be setting up a radical v moderate Democratic race for 2020, possibly to split the Democratic vote. Why does the media want to split the Democratic vote? Much of the media is aghast at the behavior and policies of our current president. Is it all about drama and ratings? It is not as if these new ideas have not already been put into place in other modern nations. Many modern nations have far better safety nets than our supposedly enlightened nation does and they function without constant means testing and angst about abuse.

How much do the media’s attempts to get enough information to predict future outcomes contribute to determining future outcomes? We can see that modern media can persuade voters to hold a particular point of view. Given this power it is clear that the media could also function to downplay the distance between younger and older members of the Democratic Party, to help integrate the two views, which are really not as distant as they have been made to appear. Even supposedly objective media figures seem to be playing up the distances between platforms in the Democratic Party.

There has already been much discussion about “socialism”, about AOC’s outspokenness, about radical and outrageous policy ideas like Medicare for All, taxing the rich. Our president remarks, on no less an occasion than the State of the Union address, that we cannot expect to have any legislation going on in Congress at all as long as there are investigations being conducted in the House. The policies that the new members of Congress subscribe to evoke strong reactions. Heresy! Sacrilege! Impossible! Will explode the deficit! Yikes!

Playing Defense

But consider the policies the Democrats have already been pursuing: validity of the Trump election, foreign intervention in an American election, collusion to invite foreign intervention in an American election, is the President of the US a criminal, has the President of the US violated the Constitution of the United States, ending voter suppression strategies including extreme gerrymandering, protecting health care (both the ACA and women’s reproductive health), protecting our alliances, protecting the UN, protecting the environment, protesting systemic economic inequality, immigration policies and secure borders, laws about guns to prevent mass shootings, areas of concern that have arisen from having a white supremacist in the presidency such as racism, the #metoo movement as pushback from having a misogynist in the presidency, pushback against appointments of people whose beliefs are antithetical to the agencies they head, reform of overly zealous and racially uneven imprisonment realities.

It is a long list of Democratic concerns, but all of these issues have tended to be the defensive actions of a party that does not have a majority in power. I don’t remember a time when there were so many policies where approaches were so divided along partisan lines. I believe that Republicans are deliberately partisan and unwilling to compromise and that they have a purpose in mind, an undemocratic purpose, which is to make the policies of the right the basis of our entire governance once and for all. I believe that we are basically in a war to determine what “future-America” will be like.

Our president chastises Democrats and insists that they present him with a bipartisan solution to secure our southern border. But the President has already dictated what laws and offerings he will accept. He requires that any border security arrangements include a wall, not something about which there is bipartisan agreement. Therefore, he has already made bipartisanship an impossibility and has bought himself more opportunities to impugn Democrats for being stubborn and inflexible, although the same adjectives surely apply to Trump.

Playing Offense

New Democrats in the House could be seen as simply upping the ante in the Party wars which have been steadily escalating in this past decade. New Democrats do not want to be on the defense. They say why don’t we play some offense. Since the Republicans think they have us on the ropes, why not play a little rope-a-dope. AOC says “we can be audacious”. Perhaps she is saying that Democrats have plenty to lose by playing it safe, by simply trying to plug the holes that Republicans are blowing in the protections we have for “we the people”, and by passing policies that blast new holes in protections the people rely on to keep them from exploitation, poverty, and labor abuse. Without a majority in any branch of government, defense was the Party’s only move. But this is a new day, winning the House in 2018 has perhaps given Dems enough encouragement to go on the offensive. The people may be more than ready to accept things that have never actually been offered before.

Medicare-for-all, for example, if implemented could prove as difficult to overturn as any other useful social program. Republicans are not the only ones who oppose it, although they will be fierce in their opposition. Americans may not like the idea of giving up their private health insurance especially if an employer pays. Americans are being told that they will have long waits for treatment and the options for treatment will be curtailed. The private health insurance industry will not go ‘gently into that good night.’ There are many obstacles. However single payer insurance is available in almost every modern industrialized nation so there is plenty of evidence that it can be successful. It will be labelled a socialist program, and the very whiff of socialism, considered anathema by Republicans, may be enough to kill the idea for most Americans.

But Paul Krugman had a few things to say on this topic in this morning’s NYT.

“What Americans who support “socialism” actually want is what the rest of the world calls social democracy: A market economy, but with extreme hardship limited by a strong social safety net and extreme inequality limited by progressive taxation. They want us to look like Denmark or Norway, not Venezuela.”…

“On the other hand, we should never discount the power of dishonesty. Right-wing media will portray whomever the Democrats nominate for president as the second coming of Leon Trotsky, and millions of people will believe them. Let’s just hope that the rest of the media report the clean little secret of American socialism, which is that it isn’t radical at all.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/07/opinion/trump-socialism-state-of-the-union.html

Just the mention of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans makes Republicans speechless, if you can imagine that. And the Green New Deal strikes people who don’t believe climate change is caused by human activity as a direct attack on Capitalism and also impossible.

A homeowner with a bully pulpit on the Washington Post opinion page, Megan McArdle, wrote an article today to share how expensive renovation on her own home has been and what had to be done to make her home more energy efficient. She’s right. If we have to pay to retrofit our homes with efficient windows and doors, adequate insulation, solar panels, efficient heating systems, etc. most of us cannot afford to comply with any Green New Deal that requires such things. The Green New Deal seeks to make us rely less on private automobiles and trucks and more reliant on mass transit. This shift will be a difficult one for most Americans. What if the world begins to put pressure on nations that are energy hogs? What if climate change becomes absolutely impossible to ignore? Will that make a Green New Deal more palatable?

The author of the WaPo article says that implementing such policies quickly will inspire chaos and anger. Perhaps if government subsidizes some of these changes they will likely be met with less anxiety, but a slow step-by-step approach could bypass much social upheaval. Will speed of implementation prove to be necessary? How much time will environmental changes allow us? This author also raised the specter of guaranteed pay, another Progressive ask, being greeted with cheers by deadbeats. However there are people who cannot work for many valid reasons. Why should they have to jump through stigmatizing hoops because some people abuse any social program? Why should all social programs be twisted to assume that everyone will want to abuse the system?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/were-nuts-isnt-a-great-pitch-for-a-green-new-deal/2019/02/07/f605b220-2b2f-11e9-984d-9b8fba003e81_story.html

There was also this cartoon this morning, which offers AOC a bit of support:

I am not allowed to capture it, so use the following link to see it.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/02/08/how-is-it-that-occasio-cortez-is-one-described-irresponsible/

Conclusions

So we are most likely to continue to be inundated by speculations about that Democratic Party full of voices that are all saying different things at the same time. The problem will be not to set a platform in stone until Dems see how public opinion is trending in 2020. By the time of the Democratic convention we can hope that some kind of policy platform is decided on that is acceptable to all members of the party and gives Dems an electable set of initiatives. Too bad Dem party heads are not as good at creating consensus of action (if not thought) as Nancy Pelosi is. There is nothing to be gained from being a meek party, a party on defense. It does seems that if you don’t want the ‘less’ agenda of the Republican Party it is time to go all out and ask for the ‘more’ agenda of the Democratic Socialists. Compromising from the right to the middle is unlikely to solve any of America’s current issues. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez seems to have ideas that offer the most juice for Democrats. Why not be audacious?

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Fox News

 

 

 

 

 

 

If You Give Trump the Purse Strings (Dark Version)

If you give Trump a presidential campaign he will seek out a Russian leader to help him win.

Trump Asks Russia Scoopnest.com big

If you give Trump help from Russia he will win. He will become the President of America.

Trump becomes Pres Reductress

Then he will want a White House like a Saudi King’s palace.

Saudi Palace interior Mondo Design

If he can’t have a palace he will have a fancy golf club or two – his fancy golf clubs

mar-a-lago Ibtimes.com

If he appoints all his cronies to govern/rule with him they will fight to be Dad’s favorite, give bad advice; they will leak the chaos.

Trump Chaos Watching America

If he fires the most contentious ones we will get a lot of new books. The new cronies he appoints will be just like the old ones.

Fired staffers The Wrap

New staff same as old CNBC.com

If he can’t get absolute loyalty from his staff and cabinet he and his family will govern America all alone.

Trump governs alone Business Insider

America's Royal family 2 The Times of Israel

If the Democrats take the House he will find a way to bring them to heel by insisting that we need to build a wall along the southern border.

Dems take House 2 The Daily Beast

If he gets a wall, he will know he can have anything he wants.

wall 2 CNN.com

If he can’t get his wall he will shut down the government until he finds out he can’t give the SOTU in the House of Representatives.

No SOTU CBS 42

If he gives the SOTU he will declare a National Emergency to get his wall.

national emergency Ya Libnan

If he declares a National Emergency he can wrest control of the purse strings away from the House.

Trump purse Etsy

If he gets control of the purse strings, he may be able to turn the White House into a Saudi King’s palace.

 Trump sword dance tenor.com.gif

If he gets control of the purse strings, he will know he can have anything he wants.

Trump will finally be a winner.

America and “we the people” will have to do whatever Trump says.

Photo Credits:  From Google Image Searches – scoop nest.com, Reductress, Mondo Design, USAToday’sFTW, ibtimes.com, Watching America, The Wrap, CNBC.com, Business Insider, Times of Israel, The Daily Beast, CNN.com, CBS 42, Ya Libnan.jpg, Etsy, tenor.com

Dividing the World

world divided Pixels

Dividing the World Then

In 1494 Spain and Portugal signed a treaty (the Treaty of Tordesillas) which divided the New World (of which very little was known) between the two nations. They had the Pope (Alexander VI) back their treaty. Reactions of the rest of Europe were muted according to historical accounts (no TV, no radio, no tweeting). Spain and Portugal dominated trade because they had the most ships. This treaty was mostly about trade. Places discovered by and claimed for Spain could only trade with Spain and vice versa. Brazil, a nation that speaks Portuguese, is a legacy of this treaty.

By the time other countries entered the age of discovery they defied the treaty and traded with Spanish land claims and Portuguese land claims indiscriminately, although often by smuggling or other clandestine approaches. In this age when Protestantism was growing, the value of a Papal Bull did not carry the same cachet it once did. Today we see it as kind of the height of imperiousness to divide the New World between two of the many nations in Europe, but these were imperial times, the days of Kings and Queens, and divine right. Cockiness was an expected characteristic of royalty.

Dividing the World Now

What if Putin and Trump, in their mysterious private conversations have been indulging in something very old and once a prerogative of royalty. What if they have been discussing an arrangement to divide the world between them, each laying claim to a sphere of influence with the other vowing to stay out unless an agreement is reached to act together. What if Trump has agreed to leave Eastern Europe, the Middle East (except Israel and Saudi Arabia), and Africa to Putin and Trump gets everything in the Western Hemisphere (with Western Europe, China, Japan, and perhaps Korea existing outside the sphere of influence agreement).

This could explain why Trump is retreating from the Eastern Hemisphere, resigning from wars, old alliances, treaties, organizations and even the United Nations which many (especially Republicans and Russians) would like to see disband. If Putin has “kompromat” on Trump, if Trump is under his thumb, Putin might convince Trump to comply with such an arrangement. Kompromat may not even be necessary as coercion. It is not actually out of line which what Trump wants with his America First policy and his ridiculous obsession with America’s victimhood at the hands of all our allies. It seems that Trump does not have a problem believing, at one and the same time, that America is both a great nation and a victim of every other nation.

Dividing the world with Putin might explain why Trump suddenly wants to pull all of our troops out of Syria and Afghanistan and put troops into South America. This might explain why he wants to leave NATO. It would make Russia quite happy if we end our alliances in Western Europe and it would leave Russia free to restore the former boundaries of the Soviet Union by gobbling up states freed by the collapse of the USSR (and perhaps add new states). It would leave Africa to Russia and China and they would have to either share the troubled continent or compete to influence/exploit African nations. Trump, who doesn’t like brown people or Muslims would be freed of dealing with “shithole” countries and people.

Now this is a totally speculative theory that I have been considering, but not totally outside the realm of possibility. In a history stack about the Spanish/Portuguese Treaty to divide the New World two responders had this to say:

In 1497 John Cabot (aka Giovanni Caboto) claimed the Grand Banks off Newfoundland for England in the name of Henry VII.

In 1524 I of France commissioned Giovanni da Verrazzano to explore the coast of North America from Florida to the St. Lawrence. Ten years later, in 1534, Francis commissioned Jacques Cartier to explore the coast of Newfoundland and the St. Lawrence River further. curiouser

@curiouser: For much of the last 1000 years European monarchies have treated the world as a giant “boys only” playground. When one or two of the bigger boys are playing at one end and claim the whole field for themselves as “private territory”, the point of the game for everyone else doesn’t have to actually be spoken – it is simply to see who can flaunt the claim most boisterously without getting beat up. – Pieter Geerkens

https://history.stackexchange.com/questions/23650/what-did-other-european-powers-say-when-portugal-and-spain-signed-the-treaty-of

Perhaps there is not an explicit agreement between Putin and Trump to divide the world between them, but they talked about something that they did not want the rest of the world to know about. These behaviors we are seeing, this flirtation, may not be part of an actual agreement, but just the twisted tango of two narcissists who have different goals, although Trump seems to think their goals are the same.

If Putin wants acceptance and inclusion on the world stage then Trump seems determined to get that for him even if we choke as he tries to shove an alliance down our throats. Clearly the way that Putin runs Russia is still unacceptable to most Americans. We have no desire to live in a state that uses fear to keep citizens in line and threats to weaken the knees of target states. Putin governs like the mafia once governed neighborhoods, by bullying and requiring payment for protection to the very people who are doing the bullying. But the ultimate threat underlies it all. You could be imprisoned, or you could die.

Our survival instincts warn us away from making friends with a nation that governs its people in these ways. Why isn’t this survival instinct functioning in our President? Does he think he can keep Putin friendly by admiring him? All of these considerations explain why many Americans await the outcomes of the Mueller investigation with such a mixture of hope and fear. We have never before had a President who seemed enamored of our enemy.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Pixels