Another Billionaire Offers the Country Unsolicited Political Advice

By: Michael_Patrick_LeahyAugust 18, 2011

I like Howard Schultz, the billionaire who created the Starbucks chain from scratch.

I like Starbucks stores, and will occasionally spend some of my hard earned money on the over priced coffee and baked goods sold there. It’s an indulgence, I know, but I like the community atmosphere in the stores.

I used to buy Starbucks Coffee at our local grocery store, but I’ve switched recently. I got tired of paying $10 for eleven ounces of quality coffee when about $4 of that price was simply for the brand.  I’ve found another brand for $6 and, to my taste buds, it’s just as good as Starbucks.

Now Mr. Schultz has decided to offer the country two pieces of political advice.

1. He’s asking everyone to forego their Constitutional rights to free speech by boycotting donations to all Congressional and Presidential candidates until our national debt issue is properly resolved.

2. He’s asking his fellow employers to start hiring new employees, not because the company needs them, but because the country needs fewer unemployed.

This sort of business “voluntarism” was popularized by Herbert Hoover back in the 1920s and early 1930s. Its likelihood of success is as limited today as it was back then.

What Mr. Hoover forgot then, and what Mr. Schultz forgets now, is that our country’s political and economic system is based on the idea of individual liberty. Efforts to limit that liberty–whether undertaken through ”persuasion” of the sort advocated by Hoover and Schultz–or through the heavy hand of government regulations–are entirely contrary to our tradition. 

Mr. Schultz is certainly welcome to exercise his right to free speech and express any political or economic ideas he wishes. But please, Mr.Schultz, don’t try to coerce me or any other American to refrain from exercising our rights to contribute to any political candidate that strikes our fancy simply because you think it’s a good idea.

This surplus of public policy advice from billionaires lately could inspire another Voices of the Tea Party e-book. I would title it “Top Ten Bad Public Policy Ideas from America’s Billionaires.” In addition to offerings from Mr. Buffet and Mr. Schultz, we could add thoughts from billionaires on opposite ends of the spectrum–George Soros and Donald Trump.

Just as Mr. Buffet would be well advised to stick to what he knows best–buying family businesses faced with high inheritance taxes at bargain prices–Mr. Schultz would be well advised to stick to what he knows best–selling coffee.

As a customer, I have a suggestion for him. If he lowers his prices, I’ll buy more Starbucks Coffee. Now, that’s what I call economic stimulus!

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, was published earlier this week. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

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