The Difference Between Starbucks and The State
When the US Government implements a new law or policy, it's here to stay. Virtually no amount of complaining (short of serious civil unrest) from the taxpayers will lead to a swift reversal in Obamacare, or the TSA, or the US Patriot Act, or NSA spying, or Net Neutrality, at least not without years of "studies" and hearings, and a national "debate" which of course must answer the question: "what will you replace [government program x] with?"
In the private sector, however, things are a little bit different. Less than two weeks after Starbucks introduced the "Race Together" initiative, it's dead and in the grave. "Race Together," in case you missed it, was a plan from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in which Starbucks employees were instructed to strike up small talk with customers about race relations. From the customer's perspective, this meant that they had to endure time-consuming and unwanted small talk from the mostly-white hipsters who make your Americano.
The quick death of "Race Together" illustrates the fundamental difference between the state and private companies. Unlike the state, Starbucks can't get your money unless it convinces you to hand it over voluntarily. It can't simply take your money via taxes, or force you to come into its stores, or talk to its employees. Thus, Starbucks ultimately is forced to do what the customers want, or go out of business. When Starbucks miscalculates public desires, it is forced to change. When the state does the same, it need only fall back on the fact that it has most of the guns, and the legal authority to use them.
And what a miscalculation it was on the part of Starbucks. In his column at LewRockwell.com today, Lew noted that Starbucks may have very much misread the degree of agreement between Schultz and the general public.