“This new initiative, billed the “Starbucks College Achievement Plan,” and announced with much fanfare at a press release featuring Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, has been praised nearly universally in the press as a ‘bold act of ‘conscious capitalism,‘ ‘a potential game-changer,‘ ‘generous‘ and ‘sweet.’ None of these glowing reports bothered to note that Starbucks is currently one of the largest employers of minimum wage workers in America, or that the benefits of online college are dubious at best, so it’s hardly surprising that these writeups also fail to examine the underlying ideology at play. Put plainly, we cannot hope to fix a broken system within the confines of that very same system.
“This is the essential lie of neoliberalism: the insane notion that the ‘rising tide’ of capitalism can continue lifting indefinitely, without consequences for our ecology or our democracy. Groups governed by the ruthless precepts of free-market extremism cannot seriously be expected to provide solutions to the problems that their ideology might cause. And yet, more and more of us — particularly younger Americans — are abandoning political involvement in favor of attempting to change the system from within, to ‘vote with our wallets‘ and engage in ‘buycotts.’ We applaud tepid, incremental changes, which always have the funny habit of placing the needs of capital above the needs of everyone else. Avowed liberals and leftists in the press frequently cheer superficial changes to EPA standards, tweaks to the private health insurance industry, an attempted minor adjustment to student loan interest rates, and really any other quasi-achievement that the Obama administration has managed to accomplish. These changes may be better than the hideous status quo, but their fundamental weakness is rooted in an unwillingness to address unbridled capitalism’s foundational flaw.”
Read the rest at Salon. “Starbucks’ demented politics: Why its ballyhooed “college” offer helps them — not you”