Labor

Starbucks Baristas Take a Stand, the Stand

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starbucks

Starbucks baristas have been trying to unionize for a while now, with organizers tossing out stats like "only 42% of Starbucks workers use its health-care plan." Last week's National Labor Relations Board hearing regarding Starbucks' alleged intimidation of pro-union employees featured some real gems:

By the review dated Aug. 5, 2006, the day he was fired, his manager wrote that he "failed to create a positive work experience for his fellow partners." The day he was fired, [Daniel] Gross [a former barista involved in the NLRB case] told managers "the workers united will never be defeated," he said in a near-monotone on the witness stand.

But nothing is better than this sassy quote from one Starbucks lawyer:

"Starbucks is a multibillion-dollar corporation. So I guess that must mean we're bad," said Starbucks attorney Daniel Nash in his opening statement July 9. "I know that the IWW, apparently in their zeal against capitalism or corporations, they don't like that. They don't like any big companies."

Via Romenesko's Starbucks Gossip site.

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  1. “Starbucks is a multibillion-dollar corporation. So I guess that must mean we’re bad,”

    What kind of lawyer says this? Multibillion dollar corporations don’t have a reputation for generosity and fairness towards employees. They have a reputation for shrewdness and treating employees like numbers or widgets. I’m not saying that’s the case with Starbucks, but that lawyer gets a frownie face in red ink.

  2. Sassy quote? That’s just a good old-fashioned whine.

  3. “Starbucks is a multibillion-dollar corporation. So I guess that must mean we’re bad,”

    Sounds about right to me. If an entity is bad for having billions in income, then the federal government must be doubleplus ungood because it has trillions in income.

  4. I’m supposed to feel for some loser whose only skill in life is making coffee?

    Fuck you Daniel Gross. Go back to writing your Moneybox column.

  5. So is this 58 percent of employees who don’t use the company health plan supposed to be forced to do so? I don’t get what the complaint is, here.

  6. So is this 58 percent of employees who don’t use the company health plan supposed to be forced to do so? I don’t get what the complaint is, here.

    I’m pretty sure the complaint is that the health care package is so lousy the majority of workers don’t find it worthwhile to participate.

  7. Fuck you Daniel Gross. Go back to writing your Moneybox column

    Is that the same Daniel Gross?

  8. Unions served a worthwhile purpose in the past. However; today they pointless. Anyone that joins a union is a useless blob that doesn’t have the drive or intelligence to take care of themselves.

  9. Anyone that joins a union is a useless blob that doesn’t have the drive or intelligence to take care of themselves.

    Come to think of it, anybody who is employed at all doesn’t have the drive or intelligence to take care of themselves, either.

  10. If you’ve got the law on your side, argue the law. If you’ve got the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you’ve got neither, pound the table.

    Look over there! Commies!

  11. Joe, the saying sounds cooler if you say, “If you have the facts on your side, pound on the facts. If you have the law, pound on the law. If you have neither, pound on the table.” It’s really all about the pounding. Three sharp raps with the bottom of a clenched fist should do it, but sometimes an initial rap, followed by staccato raps that line up with the words rhythmically can be effective too. Commies?

  12. I’m pretty sure the complaint is that the health care package is so lousy the majority of workers don’t find it worthwhile to participate.

    The possibility also exists that those people who refrain from using the comany health plan are young and healthy, and would rather spend that money on other things.

    Also, Jonny D, many people work jobs like Starbucks to support themselves while they go to college, get bands together, or do other things that involve other talents.

  13. Like “??(pound) ???(pound) ?????????(pound, pound, Pound)!”

  14. David,

    I have no idea what you said, but I think you’re probably right.

  15. It’s the old Khrushchev “We will bury you!” quote.

  16. I’m pretty sure the complaint is that the health care package is so lousy the majority of workers don’t find it worthwhile to participate.

    No, the complaint is that non-full-time workers don’t make/afford health care. For example, in the IWW article on it, a single mother who works 20 hours a week complains that in order to get health care from Starbucks, she would have to work at least 30 hours a week.

    They want all employees to get health insurance, regardless of the hours they work (so if you work 5 hours a week, you would get full coverage).

    Unions served a worthwhile purpose in the past. However; today they pointless.

    Unions destroyed themselves by becoming socialist voting blocks instead of tools for collective bargining.

    The IWW admits that its goal of the Starbucks strike is to destroy capitalism, not to actual get benifits. Their goal is to do as much damage to Starbucks as possible, which is not what you want to do when you desire expensive benifits and job security.

  17. My boyfriend doesn’t take advantage of his company’s health plan, either, because I signed him onto mine as my “domestic partner.” I wonder if he needs to join a union, too?

  18. (except Panera – their disguise is fool-fucking-proof)

    You mean the cobblestone muffin is loaded with mind-control drugs?

  19. Hugh,

    I know. I’m specifically referring to Daniel Gross, who really just needs to get on some medication. Maybe unionizing Starbucks is a good idea, but I’m sure that letting a peabrain like Gross lead the charge isn’t going to get efforts far in that direction.

    And no, this isn’t Moneybox Daniel Gross, for he who asked.

  20. Johnny D. said “I’m supposed to feel for some loser whose only skill in life is making coffee?”

    Actually, they don’t even know how to make an espresso without the automated machine. It’s all pushbutton. That’s a big part of why their coffee is so crappy.

  21. I think the biggest joke of all of this is that Starbucks is regularly listed as one of the best companies to work for. Of all of the “McJobs” I’ve worked for in my enitre life none of them except for Blockbuster came close to offering the bennifit packages that Starbucks offers. Those trying to unionize are just greedy and are over reaching.

  22. “(except Panera – their disguise is fool-fucking-proof)”

    You mean the cobblestone muffin is loaded with mind-control drugs?

    I just assumed so, based on the marketing.

  23. If you’ve got the law on your side, argue the law. If you’ve got the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you’ve got neither, pound the table.

    Well, the law might be on the side of destroying capitalism… but I suspect the whole destroy capitalism effect is an undesired consequence, not the design. Non-Marxist socialists, like those in Sweden, know that without capitalist institutions to tax, or buisnesses to give benifits, that there is no socialism.

    You do realize, joe, that the IWW is a political group with only 900 members in good standing… they are not members of the AFL-CIO and they haven’t actually organized a single IWW shop, and are a ‘trade union’ only in name? You realize that REAL unions like the UAW, Teamsters, etc, desperatly try to distance themselves from the IWW?

  24. Lamar,

    Bam-bam-bam! Commies!

    Yep, that’s pretty good. I think I’ll send some money to Grover Norquist.

  25. The use of the words “Goverment Repression” made me laugh
    talk about a non NPOV.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_Workers_of_the_World#Government_repression

  26. Johnny D. said “I’m supposed to feel for some loser whose only skill in life is making coffee?”

    And I get accused of elitism for saying that the aggregate result of people’s individual decisions can have negative consequences that aren’t captured in their individual decision-making process.

    No is going to call Johnny D a snob. No one.

  27. Rex Rhino,

    I realize all of those things. None of which has anything to do with this case.

    I don’t care if the political organizers want Xenu to come down from his moon base – either Starbucks is violating labor law, or they’re not.

  28. But what of the tip jar?

  29. And if reality’s not on your side, pound the cake. (Posted before, but I like it so much here’s a free refill.)

  30. They don’t like any big companies.

    I’ve noticed that the bigger the company, the more bullshit bureaucracy and “happiness training” there is. That’s why I don’t like them.

  31. I’ve noticed that the bigger the company, the more bullshit bureaucracy and “happiness training” there is. That’s why I don’t like them.

    That, I think, is a hangover from the idea that The Company is supposed to be a paternalistic father figure that will care for your every need.

  32. “No is going to call Johnny D a snob. No one.”

    Where are all the people who got on sad, sad Prof. Fish’s case the other day? Matt? Episiarch? Soda?

  33. joe –
    I try not to call people names. I do not agree, however, that workers at Starbucks are simply “some loser.”

    And wrt the comment about why so many opt not to take the health insurance, I wager a good chunk (maybe not the majority) of those opting against the plan are still covered by their parents’ insurance.

  34. I think the biggest joke of all of this is that Starbucks is regularly listed as one of the best companies to work for. Of all of the “McJobs” I’ve worked for in my enitre life none of them except for Blockbuster came close to offering the bennifit packages that Starbucks offers. Those trying to unionize are just greedy and are over reaching.

    So why is it exactly that at Reason greed is only a bad thing when it’s a worker wanting more?

  35. joe,

    I’ve already stated that I am talking about one specific individual. If that makes me a snob, so be it.

  36. Nothing wrong with wanting more, and asking for it. Nothing wrong with saying “no” when asked for more. Nothing wrong with hiring somebody else when those that asked for more become more troublesome to employ than a new employee.

  37. This is all Starbucks’ fault for pushing the term “barista.” Nobody can say with a straight face “and 58% of our teenage button pushers haven’t taken advantage of our health plan.”

  38. So am I imagining things or is this yet another time when Reason automatically takes the side of management in a labor dispute?

    Why exactly does Reason not consider the freedom of workers to organize and bargain collectively to be important?

  39. Dan, you’re starting to get trolly again.

  40. Nothing wrong with hiring somebody else when those that asked for more become more troublesome to employ than a new employee.

    It may or may not be wrong – but it’s certainly not fair to fire an otherwise performing employee for attempting to talk his coworkers into unionizing.

  41. Dan, you’re starting to get trolly again.

    No I’m not – I’m simply asking why libertarians (at least here) always favor management when the issue of labor disputes is raised. This thread is one example of many.

    If you think I’m wrong, then please feel free to disagree. But to say that this point is trolling is not accurate or fair.

  42. It may or may not be wrong – but it’s certainly not fair to fire an otherwise performing employee for attempting to talk his coworkers into unionizing.

    I agree. A better strategy would be to issue arguments against unionizing, showing the workers how they would benefit more from not joining a union. If the result is that employees come to them with all-or-nothing demands that they can’t/won’t meet, then Starbucks should have every right to replace those workers with other workers, with whom Starbucks can reach an arrangement.

  43. …it’s certainly not fair to fire an otherwise performing employee for attempting to talk his coworkers into unionizing.

    I think this captures the fundamental difference between you, Dan T., and most of the posters here.

  44. “but it’s certainly not fair to fire an otherwise performing employee for attempting to talk his coworkers into unionizing.”

    Life isn’t fair. You learn that in kindergarten.

  45. Life isn’t fair. You learn that in kindergarten.

    It’s not – but it should be.

  46. I think this captures the fundamental difference between you, Dan T., and most of the posters here.

    Does it? If I were to say that libertarians did not care about fairness I would be accused of trolling.

  47. “but it’s certainly not fair to fire an otherwise performing employee for attempting to talk his coworkers into unionizing.”

    Life isn’t fair. You learn that in kindergarten.

    Actually, it’s illegal.

    (IANAL and do not know the details, but it is illegal to fire someone for trying to form a union.)

  48. It’s not – but it should be.

    Which is why we need the government to enact stern Harrison Bergeron measures to make everything fair.

  49. Am I the only one who thinks Starbucks could market the shit out of being “the only coffee company where you get served by FUCKING WOBBLIES!?!?!?!?”

  50. Lamar, there’s a big difference between ripping on an old, out-of-touch NYT editorialist who somehow has never been in a Starbucks before, and immediately jumping on Johnny D. for harshing on a Starbucks employee who seems lazy at best. Snarky statements from Reason commenters are, well, sort of a dime a dozen. Elitist, meandering essays from the NYT are more rar…uh, maybe not.

    Besides, Johnny has qualified his statement.

  51. de stijl: It might be illegal, but it still happens. And the NLRB can’t do much about it.

  52. it’s certainly not fair to fire an otherwise performing employee for attempting to talk his coworkers into unionizing.

    Its completely fair. Its almost certainly illegal, but it shouldnt be. I own a business in an at-will state, which means I can fire my employees for any reason (or none) except for some notable exceptions (which Im sure includes union organizing, which has never come up 🙂 ). I oppose those exceptions. Its none of the governments business who I choose to hire and how much I pay them. Or why I fire them.

  53. …I’m simply asking why libertarians (at least here) always favor management when the issue of labor disputes is raised.

    A good question Dan T. Very non-trolly.

    IIRC, from previous labor threads, a large number of posters have had negative experiences with labor unions, either first hand or through acquaintences.

    Secondly, I’m guessing a large number of posters here work in fields where individual merit determines their pay level, not collective bargaining.

  54. Does it? If I were to say that libertarians did not care about fairness I would be accused of trolling.

    I think you missed the point, which is that it is fair.

  55. Do people actually make careers out of working at Starbucks? I don’t really know since I never go to Starbucks (my city didn’t get a Starbucks until 2006). I have a lot of friends who have worked at Starbucks while they were students, so they were covered by their parents’ or school’s health care plan. It’s been several months since I was at a fast food joint or restaurant where I was served by somebody who wasn’t obviously younger than me (I’m 27) or somebody who is likely to be an illegal immigrant.

    Do they have managers? I guess somebody might make a career doing that.

  56. Does it? If I were to say that libertarians did not care about fairness I would be accused of trolling.
    …..
    I think you missed the point, which is that it is fair.

    Actually, I thought the point was that it didn’t matter whether or not it was fair, and that it should be legal for Starbucks (or anyone else) to hire/fire anyone, anytime, for whatever reason.

  57. …I’m simply asking why libertarians (at least here) always favor management when the issue of labor disputes is raised.

    Aside from the economics of serving coffee which has the actual final say so about wage levels, as an employer I have the inherent right to make business decisions because it’s my company.

    As an employee, you have the inherent right to accept my terms of employment or find other employment that you find more to your liking.

    As an aside, I find it dubious that a Starbucks employee agitating for unionization is devoting full attention and enthusiasm to his job. Disgruntled employees generally do not. It is unlikely that an otherwise satisfactory employee was discharged.

    For the record everyone I’ve ever come into contact at Starbucks has been helpful and pleasant, hardly my definition of losers.

    Disclaimer: I can’t work for anybody for more than a few months. I can’t stand corporate cubicle farms, squirrel cages, or office politics.

  58. When it comes to unions and management, I find it a fairly close horse race of stupidity, sloth, ineptitude and avarice. I think the general libertarian bias against unions is a bit like the bias against religion. It is an offense against libertarian sensibilities rather than a bias based on an reasoned extention of libertarian thought. As for collusive agreements, this is a problem because (in theory) a capitalist economy needs a “referee” like government to blow the whistle on bad actors. And, of course, both businesses and unions want to coopt the powers of government to further specific agendas. Now can I get my latte?

  59. Which is why we need the government to enact stern Harrison Bergeron measures to make everything fair.

    I don’t know about “stern Harrison Bergeron measures” but certainly the government has an interest in making sure that in situations where one party has a power advantage over the other that the weaker party is treated with some level of fairness.

  60. Its none of the governments business who I choose to hire and how much I pay them. Or why I fire them.

    I guess this is where we disagree. It is the government’s business to make sure fairness in labor practices are followed. What constitutes “fairness” is often not clear, I admit, but certainly it’s in everybody’s interest to make sure as much as reasonably possible that no side in a commercial transaction is taken advantage of.

  61. The whole conceit of calling an individual who fucking puts ground coffee into a machine a barista is pathetically laughable. It is liking calling a janitor a custodial engineer.

  62. If the union’s efforts turn out to be a failure, a good name for the article would be “Wobblies Wobble but They Don’t Fall Down”

  63. I don’t see what’s wrong with unionizing. If a corporation is a collection of people getting together to run a company (and they have the right to do so), why can’t the employees get together and say “if you want to hire us, you will have to provide us with X”? If collective action is ok on one side, it damn well should be ok on the other. Fair’s fair.

    What Libertarians want do to is have a system where the employer has all the power and the employee has only the power to leave (at which point NDAs, no-complete, and all sorts of other “agreements” may restrict the ex-employee’s freedom.

  64. There are several defintions for “fair” at Merriam Webster online, most clearly not pertienent to this discussion (“pleasing to the eye” or “not stormy or foul”)

    The sixth entry is the one that seems appropos: 6 a : marked by impartiality and honesty : free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism a very fair person to do business with b (1) : conforming with the established rules : ALLOWED (2) : consonant with merit or importance : DUE a fair share

    None of these would seem to describe this dismissal of a person for trying to organize a union: it’s not impartial and is manifestly done in the self-interest of the employer; as several posters have noted, it does not coform with the established rules (in fact, it’s illegal); it does not treat the worker based on his merit.

    X,y and robc, what makes you think it’s fair?

  65. It’s hard to make a stand when you are wobbly.

  66. What Libertarians want do to is have a system where the employer has all the power and the employee has only the power to leave (at which point NDAs, no-complete, and all sorts of other “agreements” may restrict the ex-employee’s freedom.

    Right. It’s odd to me that libertarians will defend to the death the rights of the individual against the rights of the collective when it’s the government, but will always consider the rights of the collective to be more important than those of the individual when it’s big business.

  67. same here, i have no beef with unions beyond some of the rhetoric.

    i only go to starbucks when vendors try to bribe me with gift cards (hint: doesn’t work) and some of their milkshakey things (teh chai tea latte, hot or cold) are nice.

  68. It’s odd to me that libertarians will defend to the death the rights of the individual against the rights of the collective when it’s the government, but will always consider the rights of the collective to be more important than those of the individual when it’s big business.

    Believe it or not, Dan, big government is almost always a lot more dangerous than big business by its very nature. No matter how much money the Starbucks fat cats make, they can never force you to pay them for anything at gunpoint.

  69. To be more specific here, Dan, the NLRB has much more power to take us down a road to hell paved with good intentions than Starbucks does.

  70. Dan T.,
    You seem eager to stereotype libertarians as shills for everything big business ever does. You conveniently ignore H&R posts like this one that defy the stereotype by inveighing against corporate welfare.

    Why didn’t you bother to leave a comment there?

  71. parse,

    It conforms with what the established rules SHOULD BE.

    Once the law is right, it will be fair. The problem is with the law.

  72. In light of a previous thread, I simply cannot take Katherine Mangu-Ward seriously on the subject of Starbucks.

    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/115328.html

  73. robc, you are kind of begging the question here. I guess you think the established rules should allow employers to fire employees for union organizing because that would be fair. But the question is–why is it fair? What definition of fair does firing someone for organizing fall under.

    As it is, you are left agreeing with Dan T when he says it’s not fair–all you can say is “Yeah, it’s not fair–but it should be!”

  74. There was a time when, before a union could invoke the assistance of the National Labor Relations Board, the officers of the union had to file Taft-Hartley affidavits: They had to swear that they didn’t support the violent overthrow of the government, and that they didn’t belong to organizations which had such a purpose.

    If these IWW jokers are truly the successors of the olde-tyme Wobblies, then I’m not sure if they could truthfully make such an affidavit. If they want to violently overthrow the capitalist pig oppressor, why should the NLRB, an agent of said oppressor, give any legal sanction to their organizing drives?

    This question would be relevant if the modern IWW wasn’t so teensy, cute and nonthreatening.

  75. No matter how much money the Starbucks fat cats make, they can never force you to pay them for anything at gunpoint.

    Yeah – because the government will stop them!

  76. To be more specific here, Dan, the NLRB has much more power to take us down a road to hell paved with good intentions than Starbucks does.

    I suppose, but in this case the dispute is not between Starbucks and the government but rather Starbucks and some of its former employees, with the government serving as the neutral third party.

  77. Dan T.,
    You seem eager to stereotype libertarians as shills for everything big business ever does. You conveniently ignore H&R posts like this one that defy the stereotype by inveighing against corporate welfare.

    My beef is more with Reason than libertarians in general. Reason is very pro-corporation, even if it does not go so far as to advocate welfare for failing businesses.

    I would think libertarians would realize that the government is hardly the only powerful entity that can keep people from enjoying their liberty.

  78. Me:
    No matter how much money the Starbucks fat cats make, they can never force you to pay them for anything at gunpoint.

    Dan T.:
    Yeah – because the government will stop them!

    Way to make my point for me, dude. Now your job is to explain why the National Labor Relations Board (specifically!) needs to exist at all in order for the government to perform that limited but crucial function well.

  79. It may or may not be wrong – but it’s certainly not fair to fire an otherwise performing employee for attempting to talk his coworkers into unionizing.

    OTOH if he was spending his time on the job proselytizing while the other baristas were telling him to shut up and pour his share of the lattes (I.e. “failing to create a positive work experience for his fellow partners”) then the termination is entirely justified.

    Why exactly does Reason not consider the freedom of workers to organize and bargain collectively to be important?

    Personally because I consider the freedom of workers to refuse to organize and bargain collectively to be just as important, and usually more lucrative.

    It’s odd to me that libertarians will defend to the death the rights of the individual against the rights of the collective when it’s the government, but will always consider the rights of the collective to be more important than those of the individual when it’s big business.

    Actually most libertarians I know consider “big business” (at least as it applies to government chartered and regulated corporations) to be just as bad as government, with the exception that corporations can’t send a SWAT team to your house without getting the government to front the operation.

    Once the law is right, it will be fair. The problem is with the law.

    Based on 60 years of personal experience and extensive study of history, the law will never be either “right” or “fair.”

    with the government serving as the neutral third party.

    Based on 60 years of personal experience and extensive study of history, the government will never be “neutral.”

  80. “My beef is more with Reason than libertarians in general. Reason is very pro-corporation, even if it does not go so far as to advocate welfare for failing businesses.”

    Reason is so focused on a single power structure, the state, that it sometimes fails to raise skepticism of other power structures. It will deny that Wall Street is a power structure though it gets bailed out like a state would. It denies that Walmart (or Exxon, etc.) is a power structure even though it generates more revenues and has more workers than many small countries. I think libertarians should be skeptical of all power structures that have the ability to meddle in our lives. This isn’t an anti-corporate rant, it’s just a recognition that government isn’t the only actor who can curtail liberty.

  81. Now your job is to explain why the National Labor Relations Board (specifically!) needs to exist at all in order for the government to perform that limited but crucial function well.

    Because keeping people from killing each other is hardly the only function of government.

    Government must also help protect the economically weak from the powerful, and way too often Reason considers it an injustice against the powerful when they can’t take advantage of their God-given right to exploit the powerless.

  82. I would think libertarians would realize that the government is hardly the only powerful entity that can keep people from enjoying their liberty.

    I don’t follow what you are saying here. Can you provide some concrete examples of a non-government entity curtailing liberty?

  83. Lurker Kurt:

    No. Think for yourself.

  84. Surely you can come up with one private structure that impedes your liberties, whether economic or social. Maybe there’s company that is spying on you. Maybe there’s a company that you are forced to do business with. Maybe there is a company that has lobbied the government for power and been granted extensive power.

  85. I’d be truly disgusted if you couldn’t come up with at least one arguable counterexample to your own point of view.

  86. I’d be truly disgusted if you couldn’t come up with at least one arguable counterexample to your own point of view.

    Sorry, dude. I’ve been in training here at work and have been unable to post.

    Maybe there’s company that is spying on you

    Umm… No. I can’t think of any company spying on me. I work in market research and am aware of data mining and other such things, but I wouldn’t equate that with spying.

    Maybe there’s a company that you are forced to do business with.

    I can’t think of any company I am forced to to business with other than the electric company and the gas company. Economists call those ‘Natural Monopolies’. My state government intervened long ago and now they are heavily regulated in the rates they can charge so they are now called ‘Public Utilities’.

    Maybe there is a company that has lobbied the government for power and been granted extensive power.

    Perhaps we should limit the power and scope of government so that government cannot grant a corporation extensive power.

    No corporation can tax me. No corporation can send its employees to put me in jail. No corporation wants to ban my SUV. No corporation wants to take my guns away.

  87. I would think libertarians would realize that the government is hardly the only powerful entity that can keep people from enjoying their liberty.

    Why is this remark always made by people defending government and its encroachments on liberty?

  88. “Economists call those ‘Natural Monopolies’.”

    They are only called “natural monopolies” because capital costs are so extreme as to give a monopoly to the entity holding the infrastructure. How is it “libertarian” that the states heavily regulate such entities? I personally think regulation in such areas is necessary, but the electric company is a private entity (it is NOT a public utility, a public utility is owned by a municipality) that has an impact on your daily life…and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    AT&T recently had a big snafu (can’t believe you didn’t hear about it) involving turning date over to the gov’t without any kind of, you know, probable cause.

    I should also get into the arguable propositions, such as Walmart. Sure, nobody is forced to shop there, but when local businesses file for bankruptcy, local entreprenuers end up as managers at the chain store. It isn’t all too different from the “natural monopolies” previously mentioned. No small business owner has the capital to compete. They are out of business, you have one less choice in the marketplace. Sure, it isn’t a corporation taking your guns, but I tend to be skeptical of corporations so large they can destroy the local entrepreneur, affect local tax and zoning laws and generally make life a one-size-fits all experience.

    I know, the ability to buy cheap toilet paper should make me think Walmart exerts no influence in the marketplace and ultimately, in my life. Add to that corporate welfare (see Reason’s article).

    Competition matters. In many captial intensive industries, there simply is none. In many merchandizing industries, capital intensive infrastructures have made competition nearly impossible, especially when you factor in government support.

    You don’t think huge corporations are lobbying the government for their goddam health, right? I agree that a free market might level the playing field. Until that pipe dream becomes a reality, I will continue to be highly skeptical of corporate power, even if they can’t take my guns.

  89. Government must also help protect the economically weak from the powerful, and way too often Reason considers it an injustice against the powerful when they can’t take advantage of their God-given right to exploit the powerless.

    I don’t need your guilt trips about the sin of greed any more than the religious right’s guilt trips about lust.

    If I say so myself, I think my analogy between Dan T. and the fundies is just about perfect. The alleged victims of Starbucks’ greed are almost always hypothetical, not real, like the “victims” of adult, consensual pornography and same-sex marriage.

  90. They are only called “natural monopolies” because capital costs are so extreme as to give a monopoly to the entity holding the infrastructure. How is it “libertarian” that the states heavily regulate such entities?

    I guess I have to turn in my membership card and decoder ring.

    I agree with you, such regulation is necessary.

    In Illinois, they are refered to as public utilities even though they are private institions. FYI, in Illinois, all electric companies have had their rates frozen for over ten years. Although I personally can’t do much about utility rates, my elected representitives can and do.

    RE: AT&T and the Feds. I have heard of this. I wonder how gently the Feds ‘asked’ for the data and if there was a quid pro quo involved? Perhaps some kind of favorable ruling from the FCC. If so, wouldn’t this argue for less power to the government? BTW, how is your liberty curtailed from what AT&T has done (or been forced to do).

    but when local businesses file for bankruptcy, local entreprenuers end up as managers at the chain store.

    I grew up in a town where, during the mid 80’s, the largetst Wal-Mart in the world was built. The mom and pop stores on main street where affected. Are they all out of business and boarded up? Nope. They are now boutique stores selling things Wal-Mart doesn’t.

    but I tend to be skeptical of corporations so large they can destroy the local entrepreneur

    You may not like them, and I will defend your right not to do business with them, but how do they curtail your (political) liberty?

    I know, the ability to buy cheap toilet paper should make me think Walmart exerts no influence in the marketplace and ultimately, in my life. Add to that corporate welfare

    I never suggested anything of the kind. Of course a company as large as Wal-Mart exerts influence on the marketplace. But does it curtail liberty?

    You won’t see me defending corporate welfare of any kind. The less of it the better.

    You don’t think huge corporations are lobbying the government for their goddam health, right?

    Do you mean for the fun of it? I think they lobby the government in order to limit competitors. Once again, wouldn’t this argue for reducing the scope and size of government?

  91. “I grew up in a town where, during the mid 80’s, the largetst Wal-Mart in the world was built. The mom and pop stores on main street where affected. Are they all out of business and boarded up? Nope. They are now boutique stores selling things Wal-Mart doesn’t.”

    I’ll concede that many of these towns exist. Utimately, this discussion hinges on how broadly we define “liberty” and whether we focus on the “free minds” or “free markets” aspect of libertarianism.

  92. I’ll concede that many of these towns exist. Utimately, this discussion hinges on how broadly we define “liberty” and whether we focus on the “free minds” or “free markets” aspect of libertarianism.

    Ah, I see. We appear to have been talking past each other.

    When you used the word ‘liberty’, I thought you were talking only about political liberty like how our Founding Fathers talked about liberty around the time of the revolution.

    I don’t believe there should be NO government. Government at all levels has a valid interest in maintaining a level playing field and in preventing excesses being commited by corporations.

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