Defending the Foundation of Civilized Society
On July 13th, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced that the coffee chain would be closing 16 stores in cities including Los Angeles, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon. Schultz clarified that the stores were not being closed for unprofitability, but that the shops in question had been subject to repeated incidents of criminality, including in-store drug use and assault of Starbucks employees and customers.
The common thread linking the stores to be closed is that all are in cities governed by progressives. While rural areas have not been immune to the rise in crime in the pandemic era, particularly in homicide rates, it is mainly bastions of progressive politics that have seen increased incidents of burglary, public drug use, and other antisocial behaviors.
The closing of the stores is a terrible thing for the workers and the customers they served, but it is an even worse sign for the country as a whole. The criminal behavior that led Starbucks to close these stores is newsworthy, but the continued allowance of that behavior by the leaders running those cities is the real story here. The progressive prosecutor movement, which gained steam in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in May 2020 by a police officer, has stressed rehabilitation over jailtime for drug offenders, using public funds to comb over the merits of past convictions, and aggressively prosecuting police for misconduct. These policies certainly have a place in the enforcement toolbox, with far too many people locked up for nonviolent drug offenses and repeated, sickening killings of unarmed black men by police. But, as with any policy, they can be taken too far, and the latest episode with Starbucks is evidence of that. In partaking in society, law- abiding citizens agree to a certain set of rules limiting their freedoms so that they can enjoy the bounties of civilized life. When one engages in criminal behavior, that person contributes to the breakdown of the social contract. Critical to the preservation of basic societal cohesion are the laws that sanction those who break that unofficial agreement between citizens. We look
forward to the election of leaders who will continue defending that critical aspect of society as people grow increasingly weary of rising crime in their cities.