Sick of the partisan finger pointing and political posturing that resulted in the government shutdown in Minnesota and the downgrading of America’s credit rating by S&P, I vowed earlier this summer to withhold my usual contributions to political candidates until I saw evidence of politicians who were putting the well-being of the country before the well-being of their reelection. It was easy then, when I read Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s, “Letters to America,” to take his first pledge.
In full-page letters printed in The New York Times, Mr. Schultz has captured the thinking of not just many of his peers in the business community, but other Americans, like me, who agree with him that, “our national officials from both parties have failed to lead.”
Until there is a bipartisan agreement on a plan for “long-term financial health and security” for the United States – a plan that seriously looks at all solutions including spending and taxes – Mr. Schultz urges us to withhold our political contributions. The President and members of Congress won’t miss my modest donations, but perhaps they will pay attention if larger gifts from business leaders dry up.
Mr. Schultz issued a second challenge in his letters. This one was aimed at business leaders encouraging them to not wait for the government to offer incentives or for economic indicators to suggest when it is “safe” to hire, but to invest in jobs now. It’s time for some of the cash reserves of corporations to be used to put America back to work.
I’m often wary of getting on the bandwagon of corporate leaders who I fear have agendas that aren’t always in the best interest of the majority of Americans. But if our elected officials won’t lead, I’ll look for leadership wherever I can find it. Right now, that seems to be in the CEO of Starbucks.