Saturday, December 10, 2005

Corporate Greed, Part Million

Talk about needing legal reform!

Starbucks verses Sambucks
On the coast of Oregon where the Columbia River meets the Pacific, sits the small town of Astoria, population 10,000. Up here, when people want their coffee they often head to a little shop run by Sam Buck. Buck grew up here, went to the local high school and bought a tiny coffeehouse and named it Sambucks, using her name for the store.
You can guess what happens next. Charmucks sues, of course, and sadly, wins. You see, in Corporateland, you need the masses to be dumb so they will buy your senseless and useless junk. When someone comes up with something creative and cute, you need to sue them back into submission. It's all about power.

It's difficult to fight back when the sheep keep going to Charmucks. Sometimes, there is little choice, as Charmucks has chased the little guy away. And why? What is it about Charmucks that makes people go there? It certainly isn't the coffee, which tastes burnt and is of low quality. You might as well stay at home and drink Maxwell House. It isn't for free wireless access, because wireless is not free at Charmucks. It isn't because Charmucks uses Fair Trade coffee, although they claim you can ask for it, which defeats the purpose. Why would someone who only drinks Fair Trade coffee buy it from a place that mostly sells slave-grown coffee? It's still supporting the slave-grown coffee.

So why do people frequent Charmucks? It's our culture- the one that rips down old buildings and forests for something called "development." Development simply means building everything to look exactly the same, so that no matter where you go in America, you see the Applebee's, Olive Garden, and whatever other microwavable food chain goes with them. The American masses have been brainwashed into thinking in terms of brands. Indeed, so many of our words for things are actually brandnames. Do you say kleenex or tissues? Vasoline or petroleum jelly? Legos or interlocking building blocks?

I just read Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles, and I am contemplating what people will think thousands of years from now when they uncover the ruins of our society. What will they think about a society who is so insecure with itself that it has to make its cities look identical, as change and difference are too scary? What will they think about our obsession with possession, mounds and mounds of useless junk thrown about in heaps, unable to decompose because of its chemical composition? What about all of the signs? God, our eyes are polluted with signs, reds and blues and greens and neon and flashing and littering nature. As I sit in this local coffee shop looking through the windows, there is not a single place I can rest my eyes from words. It's rather dizzying if you think about it.

We can fight back by avoiding Charmucks. Support the little guy! To find local coffee shops without the corporate connections, visit the Starbucks Delocater. I don't care how much money the corporation gives to Democrats, the fact is that it is a bullying company that needs to be kept in check.

Now I must stop. I just remembered that the Vice-President of Charmucks is on our board. ;)

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