Thursday, April 10, 2008

Does Starbucks want your business?

Coffee fiends might want to know this. Apparently Starbucks has a problem with freedom that it doesn’t have with other political ideals. Dave Boaz at Cato tells us what happened.

Starbucks has a card which basically is intended to get people to pay for their products in advance and then pay for them with the card. In order to convince customers to give Starbucks interest free loans they offer some incentives. You get to design your own card so it is personalized and that includes putting “slogans” of various types on the card. But don’t try adding the French phrase “laissez faire”.

David recounts how a friend, Roger Ream, received such a card for Christmas and went to customize as allowed. But the term “laissez faire” was rejected with the explanation that obscene, derogatory, or “overtly political commentary” would be forbidden. Apparently the French words ‘laissez faire” would be overt political commentary. Fair enough you might say. But Starbucks gets to decide what is political commentary and what isn’t. Laissez faire was chucked out. But when they went back and signed up for a card saying “People Not Profits” it was accepted. That is clearly more political than the first card but then Starbucks is thought to have a Left-wing bias.

To double check things they tried with a phrase in Spanish -- just in case the card was rejected due to laissez faire being French. That card was accepted as well.

The only other possibility is that Starbucks thinks that laissez faire, which means to leave alone, is obscene. David wonders: “If ‘laissez-faire’ is unacceptably political, how could the socialist slogan ‘people not profits’ be acceptable?” Good question indeed. Maybe Starbucks doesn’t want consumers who like the free market. If you want you can ask them why they have this policy by going here.