Starbucks CEO Should Leave His Baristas Alone

| Fri Dec. 28, 2012 2:31 PM EST

Paul Krugman, like a lot of liberals, is annoyed with Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks:

By all accounts, he’s a good guy, with genuinely generous instincts. But in his message to employees, urging them to write “come together” on coffee cups, he gets the nature of the fiscal cliff completely wrong. In fact, he gets it wrong in two fundamental ways.....First of all, the fiscal cliff is NOT A DEBT PROBLEM. In fact, it’s the opposite.

....And then, on top of that, he has the politics all wrong, in the characteristic centrist way: he makes it sound as if the problem was one of symmetric partisanship, with both sides refusing to compromise. The reality is that Obama has moved a huge way both in offering to exempt more high-earner income from tax hikes and in offering to cut Social Security benefits; meanwhile, the GOP not only won’t agree to any kind of tax hike at all, it also has yet to make any specific offer of any kind.

I'm curious about something: Am I the only one who's annoyed not just at Schultz's confusion, but at the fact that he's asking his employees to endorse an explicitly political message? It's one thing to sell coffee in cups with a message already printed on them: that obviously doesn't suggest any kind of personal recommendation. But writing the message yourself? That's a whole different thing.

Sure, "come together" is pretty anodyne. But it's a political message nonetheless. If Schultz wants to use his own money and his own soapbox to broadcast misinformation, that's his right. But he should leave his employees out of it.

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