Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Starbucks and Subsidiarity

I absolutely love Starbucks coffee. I first started falling in love with coffee about five years ago when I started having it at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then I started drinking it more frequently, and now I have coffee a few days a week.

For several years Starbucks was my only source for coffee. I loved going there and getting a warm mug of coffee and sometimes I would even treat myself to one of their delicious scones (pumpkin being my favorite).

If I wasn't drinking coffee at Starbucks I was brewing Starbucks at the rectory. My favorite blend was the first one I fell in love with - Christmas Blend. Like Pavlov's dog the little red bag of Christmas blend would get me pumped for all the other wonderful things about Christmas.

Then it happened...

As Lifestie summarizes - "Kalen Holmes, Starbucks executive vice president, told U.S. partners in January that the Seattle-based company backed Washington state’s same-sex “marriage” legislation as “core to who we are and what we value as a company.”

At a board meeting on March 21, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz confirmed Holmes’ statement as the position adopted by the board and “not something that was a difficult decision for us.

Most of the people I know boycott Starbucks for supporting something that is seeking to undermine marriage. The priests I gather with on Thursdays at Starbucks now go elsewhere. The point here isn't so much to point out the Starbucks boycott but rather to talk a bit about subsidiarity.

As followers of the blog can attest, I am a big fan of subsidiarity. It is the Catholic social teaching that says things (commerce, government, schools, etc.) should be done at the smallest level possible. We've heard a lot about "buying local" lately, but the Church has been pumping that for centuries...and this Starbucks debacle provides a great illustration of one of the reasons why.

When companies get to be as large as Starbucks, suddenly they aren't just selling coffee anymore, they have so much money that they can publicly start supporting causes and have a GIANT impact on these causes with their coffers of cash. Often the public is under the guise that they are just buying a hamburger or a coffee or shopping at Wal-Mart, but the Church (and a lot of economists recently) are pointing out that people have no idea where their money goes, and most of it leaves the community.

I've since found lots of locally owned coffee shops, and I actually am going to start getting my coffee beans from some monks in Wyoming. I know where my money is going now, and even if the local coffee shop owner does decide to support the redefining of marriage, the best he/she is going to be able to contribute is, say, a few thousand bucks.

When governments OR companies get too big, everyone starts to lose.

Be Catholic - GO LOCAL!!!