Jewish World Review July 26, 2002 / 17 Menachem-Av, 5762
Debra J. Saunders
PC coffee 'brewhaha'
Spineless in Seattle
SO here I am in Seattle, America's coffee capital,
and the flacks at Starbucks won't even talk to me
about the measure on Berkeley's November ballot
that would require coffeehouses to sell only Fair
Trade, organic or shade-grown coffee. (Fair Trade
means the importers paid growers at least $1. 26
cents per pound for coffee beans. Shade-grown
coffee, the measure explains, "is planted in a
shaded, forest-like setting created by a canopy of
trees," which provides habitat for native songbirds.)
Violators would be subject to a $100 fine, six months
behind steel bars, or both.
Tully's and Seattle's Best Coffee wouldn't talk either.
What is happening to capitalism in America? Even
the capitalists act as if capitalism is a dirty word.
Berkeley could approve a measure that would create
Coffee Police -- someone would have to make sure
the coffeehouses were only selling PC coffee -- and
the coffee people are too cowed to speak out. Their
people could face jail time for serving plain old coffee,
and they don't want to answer questions about the
They're PC businesses in PC cities. Apparently,
they're more afraid of looking mean to songbirds than
Starbucks and Tully's -- which both have shops in
Berkeley -- sent me statements. Tully's statement
called for the marketplace to decide. Choice, after all,
Starbucks noted that it sees "Fair Trade Certified
coffee as one component of our commitment to
addressing the issue of the sustainability of the lives
of coffee farmers as well as the supply of high quality
It should be noted that all three companies sell
PC-coffee beans. Starbucks serves a PC Coffee of
the Day once a month. Store brochures tout Fair
Trade coffee as "supporting a better life for coffee
And what does Starbucks get for giving a nod to
people dedicated to driving up the cost of its
"Now we need to demand that they offer brewed Fair
Trade Coffee of the Day every week," says TransFair
USA, the nonprofit group that certifies Fair Trade
A Seattle group is gathering signatures for a measure
to levy a 10-cent city tax on cups of espresso -- to
fund child care. There is, of course, no correlation
between espresso and child-care costs. The appeal
of the measure is that it would allow the majority -- to
wit, non-espresso drinkers -- to pass a tax that other
people, presumably yuppies, will pay.
Why not, when Big Caffeine has made itself an easy
target that won't fight back?
A friend in Seattle PR tells me that the local style is
to be more "collaborative." Sounds nice, but activists
aren't "collaborative" -- which makes a "collaborative"
industry the corporate equivalent of a doormat.
You can't feel badly for these businesses when they
won't, well, wake up and smell the coffee.
Their silence speaks against them. These companies
live off of free-trade coffee, not PC fair-trade coffee. If
the java princes don't want to get in a public-spirited
defense of free trade, maybe it isn't a good thing.
If the Berkeley PC-coffee bill passes, it can only lead
to more laws. There could be proposals to outlaw the
sale of any chocolate, cocoa or honey that is not
"socially responsible." No doubt the chocolate,
cocoa and honey companies would respond lamely,
with a half-hearted statement.
The stock market's long downward slide has followed
revelations of sleazy accounting gimmicks for
companies that were more hype than assets. Here's
the other crisis facing capitalism: There is no
shortage of U.S. corporations that are basically, well,
Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.
07/24/02:No wonder the rest of the country has been known to sneer at California
07/22/02: Hail, little Caesar
07/19/02: Doctor of the Universe?
07/17/02: Johnny goes to prison
07/15/02: To win or not to win
07/12/02: A paradise for moderns
07/10/02: Hate crime, terror and murder
07/03/02: "Good things" in stir
06/24/02: True justice
06/21/02: How Davey saved California
06/19/02: Delusions of suppression
06/17/02: The Court's on trial
06/14/02: A real-life Mrs. Cleaver
06/12/02: California crude
05/31/02: FBI, investigate thyself
05/28/02: Your tax dollars on drugs
05/24/02: The Bible and the stripper
05/22/02: Who knew?
05/20/02: A modern modest proposal
05/19/02: Euros could don white hats
05/13/02: Home of the brave -- oops, scratch that
05/10/02: Colorblind U
05/08/02: License to spend
05/06/02: Conservatism can survive despite liberal bias
05/03/02:A speech like air kisses
05/02/02: Bush should end bad sentences
04/29/02: Get ready America, California is gettin' into the slave reparations business
04/26/02: Saudis' money for martyrs
04/24/02: Oooh la la, Le Pen
04/15/02: Drill Alaska -- for the children
04/11/02: A good marriage with an esteemed soul mate -- well, nothing beats it
04/09/02: Tied up and Taliban
04/05/02: No justice in reparations
04/01/02: Schools, yes; fat police, no
03/25/02: The government-induced doctor shortage
03/22/02: Conservative hypocrisy on school drug testing?
03/20/02: And now, about Russell Yates . . .
03/18/02: Bush isn't worried about alienating loyalist voters
03/13/02: No exit strategy
03/11/02: Simon hits the big time
03/06/02: He got away
03/01/02: Mary, Luke, Paul, John and Noah
02/25/02: These are good days for veep
02/21/02: Dirty bill for a dirty mess
02/19/02: Score one for Greta
02/15/02: Dose of justice needed here
02/08/02: Sunshine all around
02/04/02: Does citizenship matter?
02/01/02: End the coverup
01/30/02: Try this for "troubling"
01/25/02: Camp X-ray or Club Med?
01/23/02: Let's stop the deluge of porn e-mail
01/21/02: No 'Little Boy Lost'
01/16/02: Son of Supercar
01/12/02: Beware the European view of the death penalty
01/09/02: Other people's children
01/07/02: It doesn't fly
01/03/02: Going from the Atlantic City Boardwalk to Berkeley
12/31/01: In America, punishment should fit the crime
12/28/01: What I'd like to see in 2002
12/24/01: Don't heckle ink monopolists
12/21/01: Mumia finds safety in numbers
12/19/01 The self-help PBS shopping network
12/17/01 Caught on tape
12/14/01 Know when to hold 'em
12/10/01 Old friends
12/06/01 I read the news today, oh boy
12/03/01 It's not cricket
11/28/01 Admissions and omissions
11/26/01 Guns and abayas
11/21/01 Depraved minds think alike
11/19/01 Guilty, a la carte
11/14/01 Interpreting the entrails of Election 2000
11/12/01 Life and liberty
11/09/01 Safety is as safety does
11/07/01 More hot air on global warming
11/05/01 Bumped Pakistani's molehill
11/01/01 Freedom snuffed out
10/29/01 Give war a chance
10/26/01 Airline bill needs liftoff
10/22/01 The Riordan Principle
10/19/01 Before America gets tired of the war on terrorism
10/17/01 Patriot games
10/15/01 I was a 'McCainiac,' and I have seen the light
10/12/01 University of Censorship's fall semester
10/11/01 Poor little rich boy, Osama
10/07/01 Don't feed Israel to the beast
10/05/01: bin Laden is not our Frankenstein monster
10/04/01: Where no man has gone before
09/26/01: Who's bloodthirsty?
09/26/01: What's to understand?
09/20/01: Barbara Lee's line in the sand
09/14/01: You gotta love this country
09/13/01: ENTER TERROR
09/11/01: You can't clone ethics
09/06/01: NOW's goal: equal rights for women without equal responsibility
08/30/01: What's love got to do with it?
08/24/01: A clean, well-lighted place for junkies
08/20/01: Bush should stand up for justice
08/08/01: Don't give Peace (Dept). a chance
08/03/01: Lose a kid, pass a law
08/01/01: Welcome to France, killers
07/30/01: Why it's easy being green (in Europe)
07/26/01: If disabled means expendable
07/23/01: Condit should not resign
07/18/01: Feinstein should learn her limit
07/16/01: A drought of common sense
07/13/01: The catalog has no clothes
07/05/01: It's Bush against the planet
07/03/01: The man who would be guv
06/29/01: Wheeled, wired and free
06/27/01: O, fearful new world
06/25/01: End HMO horrors
06/21/01: Either they're dishonest or clueless
06/18/01: Freedom is a puff of smoke
06/15/01: In praise of going heavy: Yes, you can take it all
06/13/01: McVeigh: 'Unbowed' maybe, but dead for sure
06/11/01: Gumby strikes back
06/08/01: Los Angeles' last white mayor?
06/07/01: Kids will be kids, media will be media
06/04/01: Draw a line in the sand
05/30/01: Just don't call him a moderate
05/29/01: Operation: Beat up on civil rights
05/24/01: Of puppies, kittens and huge credit-card debts
05/22/01: Bush needs an energy tinkerbell
05/18/01: Divided we stand, united they fall
05/16/01: Big Bench backs might over right
05/15/01: Close SUV loophole
05/11/01: Kill the test, welcome failure
05/09/01: DA mayor's disappointing legacy
05/07/01: If it ain't broken ...
05/03/01: They shoot civilians, don't they?
04/30/01: Executions are not for prime time
04/12/01: White House and the green myth
04/10/01: The perjurer as celeb
04/04/01: Bush bashers don't know squat
04/02/01: Drugging our oldsters
03/30/01: Robert Lee Massie exercises his death wish
03/28/01: Cheney's nuclear reactor
03/26/01: Where California and Mexico meet
03/16/01: Boy's sentence was no accident
03/14/01: Soft money, hard reform
03/12/01: Banks, big credit lines and consumer bankruptcy
03/09/01: Free speech dies in Berkeley
03/02/01: When rats have rights
02/28/01: Move a frog, go to jail?
02/26/01: They knew they'd get away with it
02/20/01: How Dems define tax fairness
02/16/01: The jackpot casino Carmel tribe?
02/14/01: You can fight school success
02/12/01: Hannibal -- with guts this time
02/08/01: A family of jailbirds
02/05/01: Reality's most demeaning TV moments
02/01/01: Justice for the non-Rich
01/26/01: Hail to the chiefs of D.C. opinion
01/24/01: A day of mud and monuments
01/22/01: Diversity, division, de-lovely D.C.
01/19/01: Parties agree: Give back the money
01/17/01: Get tough with the oil companies, or forget pumping more Alaskan crude
01/15/01: Mineta better pray that no attending confirmation senator has ever driven to San Jose during rush hour
01/12/01: Europeans should look in the mirror
01/10/01: Dems' reasons for dissin' Dubya's picks
01/08/01: Jerry, curb your guru
01/03/01: A foe of Hitler and friend of Keating
12/28/00: Nice people think nice thoughts
12/26/00: The Clinton years: Epilogue
12/21/00: 'Tis the season to free nonviolent drug offenders
12/18/00: A golden opportunity is squandered
12/15/00: You can take the 24 years, good son
12/13/00: Court of law vs. court of public opinion
12/08/00: A salvo in the war on the war on drugs
12/06/00: Don't cry, Butterfly: Big trees make great decks
12/04/00: Florida: Don't do as Romans did
11/30/00: Special City's hotel parking ticket
11/27/00: No means yes, yes means more than yes
11/22/00: The bench, the ballot and fairness
11/20/00: Mendocino, how green is your ballot?
© 2000, Creators Syndicate