Not that every business can be Starbucks…

What, you mean the guys making a fortune adding a little syrup, a dash of whipped cream to good ole’ coffee and selling it for four bucks?

We’re willing to pay for it, so good for them. I can’t blame Starbucks for their ingenuity: those adorable mini-vanilla bean scones or chocolate sprinkled donuts; tiny bags of healthy snacks — dried blueberries or cranberries — to embellish kids’ or grown-ups’  otherwise boring lunches. Starbucks sells just a few choice CDs, so you know they’re really cool. They  encourage bonding with their attractive buying cards, offering free drinks and a gold card (you’re special!) after 30 hits.

Now Starbucks is touting the Create Jobs for USA Fund, “a shared initiative among Starbucks, the Opportunity Finance Network, and You” (Me? More bonding.) By contributing $5 online you get a free (!) wristband. Best of all, this new initiative will provide financing to community businesses that need help. I can’t argue with that. I’m in.

A few days ago I heard an NPR story about Dow Chemical Company. It’s all well and good that they’re pitching in by helping their employees exercise, giving classes in nutritional counseling, generally teaching folks about our disastrous obesity and its consequences. But wait a darn minute.

Dow Chemical may be providing their employees with good stuff these days. Once upon a time they provided the U.S. military with Agent Orange and napalm to annihilate those bad, bad Vietcong, also killing, maiming and sickening many innocent Vietnamese and American soldiers. Dow Chemical still maintains that Agent Orange wasn’t harmful and takes the position that the company was an agent of the U.S. government. OK. At least tell the truth about what that crap did to people.

I’m reminded of Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara, who finally, when he turned 80, wrote “In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam.” What took him so long to lament the mistakes of the Vietnam War? If you can bare it, watch the superb “The fog of War,” one of the best documentaries ever. Maybe the best.

I’ve already seen the film. I lived through Vietnam War horror, hearing of high school classmates dying or the agony of friends trying to gain conscientious objector status or instead, how they fled to Canada. It’s hard to forget.

I’m all for enjoying those yummy coffee drinks at Starbucks. I’m just trying to shed a little light on history.


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