Friday, June 07, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #111 - Part 6

The Little Thing #1: Starbucks knows no limits

Once in a while, there is a news item that strikes me in an odd way - specifically, there is something, some little thing, that the coverage just doesn't seem to address. Calling it "little" doesn't mean it's something unimportant, although sometimes it is, sometimes it's something that just bugs me a little, or even amuses me. But what it really means is that it's something glossed over, maybe mentioned in passing, but deserves more notice than it got.

So this is a new and very occasional feature, The Little Thing. I have two of them this week, just to get things going.

First up is the news that Starbucks adopted a policy as of June 1 of requiring smokers to stand at least 25 feet away from its businesses when lighting up. The company already bans smoking indoors. A company representative said about 7,000 stores will be affected - both those that have outdoor seating and those that do not. However, the rule won't apply to Starbucks that are housed in other stores, such as Target.

So here's the thing: Most all of the coverage was about how affecting outdoor seating is a kind of new area and wondering how, or even if, it will affect Starbucks' business.

But none of the coverage asked the obvious question: Starbucks, just who the hell do you think you are?

You want to ban smoking in your palaces of overpriced lattes? Fine. You want to extend that to property you control outside where you have seating? Fine. Your place, your rules.

But where do you get off even thinking that you can control the actions of people on a public sidewalk? Who the hell do you think you are?

And it's utterly creepy how, if you read the news accounts, this is apparently taken as a matter of course at least among our journalistic elite that yes, a corporation can do that, can tell people on a public sidewalk in an area not under the control of the corporation what they can and can't do, it if wants to.

It shouldn't be necessary to say this, but in case some think it is: This has nothing to do with smoking. It has to do with corporate power.


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