More On: Howard Schultz
Howard Schultz should've paid attention to what I said.
Ten years ago, I wrote a book in which I pointed out that Starbucks had helped solve one of New York City's most famous and difficult problems: the lack of public restrooms. At least, that's how it was in my neighborhood. Every afternoon, European tourists with Century 21 shopping bags would wait 10 or 20 people deep to use the bathroom at the Starbucks at Park Row and Beekman. They must have read it in a guidebook.
It was a classic example of how the private sector can do something good for the public while also attracting new customers. But the government also has to do its part to provide basic services like public safety. Howard Shultz, the CEO of Starbucks, has always supported the kind of sentimental urban progressivism that has turned public spaces in cities like Portland, Philadelphia, and, unfortunately, New York, into part-time homeless shelters and makeshift psychiatric wards.
His business is now suffering because of that.
Only a few years after opening all of its bathrooms to the public as a big social justice move, the coffee chain is closing stores across the country, mostly in big, progressive, Democrat-run cities, because the locations have become too dangerous for customers and staff. People who are homeless sleep in the bathrooms or cause trouble in cafes. So many drug addicts use the bathrooms at Starbucks to shoot up that the company has had to put needle-disposal boxes in some of its stores. Welcome to Portland! The employees who had to clean up these messes were worried about getting HIV or hepatitis.
Here are a couple of things that don't go well together: 1. Selling adult milkshakes with caffeine for $6 a cup, and 2. Hepatitis.
Schultz calls himself a "lifelong Democrat" and cares a lot about things you'd expect the CEO of Starbucks to care about, like gay marriage, climate change, etc. He has thought about running for president a few times and promised a politics based on "deep compassion and empathy for the American people."
But Americans don't need their government to be kind and caring. Americans need safe streets, clean and well-run public spaces, good law enforcement, and safety for themselves and their belongings. That's not the kind of thing you get from Kshama Sawant and the Socialist Alternative crackpots in Seattle's city government. That's the kind of thing you get from hardheaded, practical city leaders like Rudy Giuliani used to be before he became Donald Trump's drunk monkey-butler.
They are closing five Starbucks stores in Seattle, which is where the chain started, but so far they are not closing any in Provo, Utah. That happens for a reason.
There are rumors that this is a secret campaign against union organizers in Starbucks stores, but I think Schultz is starting to understand in a practical way what Democratic governance means for a big city. He complains that the local governments in question have "abdicated their responsibility" when it comes to law enforcement and mental health. They have, yes.
But so has Howard Schultz. He was forced to say sorry when Starbucks employees in Philadelphia wouldn't let two men use the bathroom even though they hadn't bought anything. The men were black, and they were taken into custody because they wouldn't leave. Starbucks said sorry, changed its bathroom rules, fired the worker who called the police, and gave the two men an amount of money that was not made public. In other words, Starbucks gave in to the same kind of stupid "woke" politics that are ruining the cities where Starbucks is now having to close stores.
Portland and Seattle won't enforce order in their cities, and Starbucks won't enforce the rules in its own stores, either, because that would put the company on the wrong side of Howard Schultz's childish sense of social justice.
Capital that is aware of its own destruction plants the seeds for its own demise, and cowardice is its own punishment.
Author: Kevin D. Williamson