Qwerty Reply

Robin,
   First off, I feel I owe you an apology. Calling names on my part was not
appropriate. Looking over your website, I thought that it was like the countless
other hate sites where people are blinded by hate and impeded by ignorance. It
seems that I have been mistaken. From the e-mail I recently received from you I
can see that you have done your homework. However, one would not be able to see
that by looking at your site. Perhaps a site designed more like the e-mail you
sent me would be helpful to surfers and would not incite anger but rather
intellectual thought by viewers.
   I'm not sure what you mean by fair trade coffee. Perhaps you could elaborate
on the subject.
   I still believe that there is a difference between a mermaid and a siren. A
mermaid is a general term used to describe the half-human half-fish creatures of
Greek Mythology. Siren is a more specific term used to describe a group of sea
nymphs who lured sailors to their death, as it defines them in the first
definition of a siren at dictionary.com. The Starbucks Siren is a siren who
lures people in to drink coffee. The definition of a siren that you showed me:
  4. A mermaid. [Obs.] --Shak.
    found at dictionary.com, I would assume by the abbreviation and the context
it was in, to be a definition of a siren given by Shakespeare. I believe that
Shakespeare blurred the distinction between a mermaid and a siren like so many
people do. Also, it can be noted that Shakespeare made up many of his own words.
Some of these words are still used today while others are discarded. My point
being that Shakespeare didn't adhere to the definition of many words. In
conclusion I believe that many people today overlook the distinction between the
two characters. They are similar, but there is a difference.
     I took a look at the websites you provided and I still don't believe that
Starbucks has a major image crisis beyond the normal problems defamement that
large companies face.
The story at: http://www.cbldf.org/pr/001130-starbucks.shtml
was no more
than a company defending itself against someone who intentionally defamed them.
I know that everyone has a right to free speech and their own opinion, and I
think that he had the right to make his opinion know through his cartoon.
However, the article doesn't explain why he made the logo. It just doesn't make
sense.
   Who is the Reverend Billy? I haven't heard of him and I don't think many
people have. Clearly he only represents a extremely small portion of the
population. Perhaps you could tell me more about him.
http://members.tripod.com/~Ramon_K_Jusino/littlemermaid.html is only another
site, like yours, that is an expression of someones opinion. Fact based on a
Disney movie? Seems a bit absurd to me. I simply cannot give it any credibility.
I know that if I was doing a paper for school, I would not be able to get away
with that site on my works cited page. The site at:
http://www.teaandcoffee.net/0202/coffee.htm
seems to me only a business report like the many others given to companies.
   The rest of these sites certainly do show that there is a small portion of
people that don't like Starbucks. However, I believe that this number of people
is extremely small. There are many radical groups out there who voice their
opinion loudly, while mainstream population disagrees.
   If Starbucks had a huge image problem, business wouldn't be doing well. On
the contrary, the reason for the explosion of Starbucks stores over the last
decade has been due to popularity of their coffee. You're right, Starbucks is
different than many other coffee places. People like Starbucks for its
uniqueness otherwise Starbucks would not be in business.
   I do not know if Starbucks undercuts its competitors. If that is true, then I
believe that it is wrong. However I need hard proof that this indeed happens
before I will believe it.
   Starbucks says that it is earth friendly. Whether or not this is true, I
cannot say until I have researched it further.
   Thank you for your response. I hope to hear from you again so that we can
continue this debate.
    Sincerely,
  Paul

Dear Paul,
Thanks for writing back, we are having a look at redesigning the website to make it a bit more informative, to start with I have posted up some of the letters that we have recieved to show some of the arguments that surround Starbucks.
As far as Starbucks having an image crisis on their hands, I had only refered to that in the terms that all of the sites I quoted were using the word mermaid instead of siren which as you pointed out is the starbucks official term for their nippleless sea creature. Out of interest do you not find it telling that they choose a siren as their logo? After all a siren is responsible for enticing sailors to their deaths on the rocks she sits on, rather like starbucks and the habitually addictive caffiene products they sell.
Fair Trade coffee is basically coffee made under livable conditions for the farmers, where they are given a price that reflects what they are selling, and not just the lowest price a large multinational can muscle out of them. A much more detailed explination is given here:
http://www.globalexchange.org/economy/coffee/
Infact there is a whole page dedicated to Starbucks here:
http://www.globalexchange.org/economy/coffee/starbucks.html
Reverent Billy is a New York based activist who has a very funny take on anti corporate and anti neo-liberalism protesting. Dressing up as an evangelical priest he hold sermons on the evils of being sucked into a life dependent on shopping and material goods. Not only due to the fact that it is no way to live, but also due to the knock on effects that this way of life has on the rest of the planet, sweatshops, crop destruction, pollution, blanding of culture etc.
People opposing the spread of multinationals may only represent a small proportion of the population in the west, however there are many millions of people in developing countries who are directly affected by the way we lead our lives here in the west. Every Starbucks coffee, pair of Nike trainers or Gap top has been produced somewhere in the third world for a very very small amount of money. It may seem like that is a good thing as at least these countries are getting some money coming in and people are able to earn a wage. But the fact of the matter is that in almost every case the people are working for less than a living wage in near concentration camp conditions.
Developing countries through the guidance of the IMF (international monetary fund) and World Bank (Both predominantley US institutions) are given loans on the condition that they accept certain changes to how they run their economies (the original thinking was that US economists with their wealth of knowledge would lead these countries out of poverty). However these conditions usually consist of allowing US companies in to set up shop and buy up local factories. Countries set up what are called EPZ's (Economic Processing Zones) which are large industrial centers for foreign companies. As an incentive to attract business The IMF suggest allowing companies relaxed or zero tax for the first couple of years, there are of course many other conditions bartered individually. The result of this is that US companies can set up factories in countries with little or no labour laws, construct their goods for barely any cost and not invest a cent in the countriy that is hosting them, at the end of the couple of years the company can then either move on to another equally desperate third world country and threaten a loss in jobs to the host, or wrangle another few years free rent. The Country slips deeper into debt and the IMF lends them more money with even more conditions attached.
I am no expert on all of this, and for more information and hard facts I would look at books such as No Logo by Naomi Klein or perhaps some of these links:
http://www.nologo.org/
http://www.globalexchange.org/
http://www.sweatshopwatch.org/
http://www.wetlands-preserve.org/humanrights.htm#gap
http://www.BehindTheLabel.org/
http://www.cleanclothes.org/
This amongst many other things is what the Anti-Capitalist movement is arguing about, and every time we shop in Nike, buy a Starbucks or McDonalds we are supporting the corporate take over of our planet, the blanding of individual cultures and the opression of the third world. Admittedly Starbucks are not global villian number one, however they are another representation of this way of doing business.
Wow perhaps I should join Reverent Billy in his preaching.
Cheers,
Write back soon
Robin.