After seeing last week's Seattle Weekly cover depicting Starbucks' tentacles reaching out to take over the world, I was prepared for a typical left-wing media hatchet job. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to read an article that was basically unbiased and just a little spiteful ["Starbucks: Just Getting Started," April 30].
Starbucks is one of the few modern-day success stories, and a company simply can't grow at the rate that Starbucks has unless there is a willing public to support it. To some, the rapid global expansion of Starbucks is threatening. People fear that their culture is about to be ingested by a giant from the West. But in any country where Starbucks opens, whether Chile or Saudi Arabia, inevitably the indigenous people are the ones who dictate success. If the locals choose to boycott a particular store, then Starbucks will have no choice but to shut down and move on.
Perhaps the most important statistic in the article is that Starbucks has "cornered only 7 percent of the overall coffee market." Seven percent is hardly a global monopoly and leaves ample room for "mom and pop" espresso stands and other independently owned specialty coffee businesses.
Starbucks' assertion that it plans to let the majority of its Seattle's Best Coffee businesses remain "as is" is a pretty good indication that it has no blood lust to quash any competitor out of existence. Though I can't imagine too many tears being shed if Starbucks decided to put Tully's, the true "char master," out of its misery.
NOWHERE TO HAIDA
"Starbucks' Global Reich" was what I thought I read. The April 30 cover headline stopped me in my tracks on Pine Street; I grabbed the Weekly from the box, then realized it actually said global "reach." I spun 360 degrees and there were Starbucks stores everywhere. McCoffee.
In the environment and in culture, diversity is cherished. Nature evolves toward it. Lots of people, in Seattle and elsewhere, create it and work for it. Trouble is, we often don't recognize its loss until it's gone. Europeans came to North America and pushed Indians out of the way. Starbucks is like that, too. Competition? Buy it up or push it out.
Coarse coffee, too. Starbucks' roasting techniques are the monster truck of the java world. Unions? No way. Ethical coffee sourcing? Hah! Get that Fair Trade, shade-grown shit off the front rack.
And they ought to be paying royalties to Herman Melville for the name.
Meanwhile, up the West Coast is Haida Gwaii, a long, long way from anywhere you'd expect Starbucks to extend its dreams of profitable hegemony. Here live four Haida guys, "bucks," in common native parlance. They used to play together on the Haida Bucks basketball team. Four years ago they opened a little cafe in Masset, their village of 700 people, serving burgers and nachos, and they called it HaidaBucks Cafe.
Watch out, boys! Down comes this legal club from Starbucks: Cease and desist! Their new Web site, www.haidabuckscafe.com, was created to help them fund the legal battle Starbucks has foisted on them.
What coffee have they been serving at HaidaBucks? Wouldn't you know it? Seattle's Best.
Cobble Hill, BC
When did Seattle Weekly become the champion of the no-alternative ["Starbucks: Just Getting Started," April 30]? If, as you would have us believe, there is no alternative to Starbucks in Seattle, what is there to say for the many, many other coffee shops we have here? Off the top of my head, I can think of, in alphabetical order: Online Coffee, Victrola, Vita, Vivace, Zeitgeist, and Zoka. There are many more, but these are the ones that come to mind after two seconds. I wish the Weekly would take more time than that before positing some kind of "informed" opinion about Seattle coffee vendors.
A FAIR DEAL
First of all, I would like to applaud the tribes on using their sovereign nation status to the best of their ability ["Big Gamble," April 30]. Casinos are just the tip of the iceberg. The amount of business ventures the tribes can undertake is staggering. However, this issue is not non-tribal versus tribal.
This issue is about our state legislators choosing to back a monopoly they have created or understanding that fairness in business should be undertaken by all. In the late '90s, our government, state and federal, didn't mind doing everything they could to break up Microsoft. Are we to conclude that monopolies made through having the best product out there are bad while monopolies that our legislators have made through their decisions or lack thereof are good?
No one can debate that our state's budget is in dire straits. Taxes will have to be paid by someone. Will giving slots to non-tribal casinos solve all of the state's woes, no. But will it make the state money, yes! Would you rather tax a willing participant through making something available to all rather than just a few or tax the unwilling participants of the state? The mere thought of choosing to tax candy along with other "sin" products such as cigarettes and alcohol I find appalling. However, our legislators are thinking of doing just that.
This issue should be a slam-dunk decision; giving slots to non-tribal casinos would provide not only taxes, but there would be an expansion in employment and building, as well as more people spending their money in our capitalistic market. If this isn't a win-win situation, I don't know what is.
In reality, this isn't about gambling, it's about doing what is right. So the final question is, do we all play on an even playing field or do we not?
GAMBLING WITHOUT GREED
While I firmly believe in individual enterprise, I cannot condone expansion based on greed ["Big Gamble," April 30]. The state introduced gaming to supplement its inability to fund services that benefit all the residents of the state. The tribes introduced gaming for the same purpose of implementing services and providing jobs for their people.
Most tribes in this country are only sustaining their government and important services; they are not getting rich. Before gaming, many tribes had up to 90 percent unemployment. If the tribes are run out of business, how much is it going to cost the state for unemployment benefits? When that runs out, how much is it going to cost the state to provide welfare, especially during these economic times?
Spokane Tribal Member
Great story on the FBI's new role in corrupting our political processvery chilling indeed ["Nickels, Locke, and the FBI," April 30]. We need more on what the FBI is doing to us locally.
Has Paul Schell undergone some sort of flipping infralapsarian political conversion? How the hell has the man who attacked street democracy with gas, spray, wooden bullets, cops, and troops come to see the FBI's current manifestation of coercion as wrong? Can we engineer similar conversions for others? Let's start with Locke and Nickels.
LET THE FBI VOTE
Very interesting article on the FBI's efforts to take down democracy ["Nickels, Locke, and the FBI," April 30]. Why don't we just make things even more secure by letting the FBI decide who we should vote for, and then let them do the voting for us.
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