Starbucks–that monolithic coffee house and sugar shack, seemingly omnipresent, a heavyweight champion in the upper echelons of corporate America–has claimed to have been working for the little guy for a long time. Can it be true? Can this big publicly traded company really be enriching the lives of common people in America and abroad, or is that a PR ploy to garner more market share?
I for one believe it is true. Not only that, but I believe these big corporations are often times doing a whole lot of good and helping people for the sake of helping people. They just know how to turn opportunities into some kind of growth, and they can even do it without crushing the small business owner underfoot.
The reason I pick out Starbucks? I have a special relationship with them, you might say. Also I have been casually following their Indivisible campaign. Their partnership with Opportunity Finance Network and the Create Jobs for America Fund is really cool and growing fast. I just learned today of their decision to give a lot of business to a pottery factory in Ohio, and they ordered so many mugs from them they nearly doubled their staff practically overnight.
What makes me pause is the assumptions and implications within the way people talk about this project and about this company. Teamster Nation begins their blog post with this:
In an era of disappearing manufacturing jobs and struggling small towns, a giant corporation has become an unlikely hero in Ohio.
Why is it so hard to believe a giant corporation could be a hero? Why is it so unlikely? I totally understand that big businesses change the game and buy out or shut down small ones. I’ve been a good “boo on capitalist and corporate greed!!!” bandwagoner. There’s a lot of truth to that. But these companies are heroes to all the people they benefit. Even the baristas that work in the trenches for them will curse them for not paying them more, but praise them when they have to call on insurance. It’s just a different type of heroism.
I think Starbucks (and other companies like it) are microcosms of America. In the end, it is just a company made of people, who want to grow and prosper, but really do want their lives to count for something more than what they grossed at the end of the day. America has lots of corporate greed and power-hungry companies fueling it…the runoff and effects of these companies make even the poor in this country lightyears ahead of poverty in the rest of the world. Wait a minute…
Before I get painfully wordy, my point can be summarized thusly: the more a company, an individual, or a nation can create wealth, the more potential and incentive they have to bless and benefit others.
Similarly, the allowance of capitalism and the protection of market freedom tends to make people and companies more charitable. Greed may increase but giving and benevolence does too. Humans don’t need help to be greedy–it’s in our nature. But this should be saved for another post. 😉