Warning: This Is A Ye Olden Styled Rant

MSN.com: “Seattle’s Caffe Vita is facing widespread blowback after a letter surfaced on social media appearing to show management threatening to fire employees caught giving away food and drinks to the homeless. In a passage that has drawn considerable ire, the letter goes on to criticize the practice of giving free food to the homeless overall. “Although these were well placed intentions, please understand, it is our belief, that feeding homeless people without comprehensive services actually enables, increases and promotes homelessness,” the letter reads in part.

From Twitter, Spek writes, “I am absolutely livid. I have worked in the coffee business for over a decade at some of the best coffee shops in the city and this is a betrayal of everything we stand for.” […] The Capitol Hill store also drew protests on Wednesday night.”

Oh my gods, will you outraged people please shut the fuck up already?!

I know, I know, “what’s my problem?” right? Homelessness is serious – shouldn’t we give people whatever help we can? Yes. Yes we can. But before we get into that – and how all this outrage is helping the homeless (because it’s not) – let’s take a step back.

Part of what this Vita letter has is a very simple and clear reminder of the law: “theft is grounds for firing”. Theft is theft. Even if the food or coffee or gift cards being given out is about to be thrown out: if you take it from the store, it is theft. Would it be responsible of the owners to allow employees to give out food that was being thrown out at the end of the day? Sure. It’s like people that take extra pens from their day job for use at home. Ultimately, it’s boss’ choice of how to handle this and a lot of restaurants do exactly that: they give whatever they have left over to food banks, who are happy to help and distribute. Owners get to decide and set the policy for what to do with leftovers: it’s not up to the barista that is on the late shift. If the barista wants to change the store policy, they should talk to the owners or open their own stand. Your stand, your rules. Give out free food to whoever you like or let your own employees decide for themselves, what to do at the end of the night.

And feck all for whatever Spek is going on about as a “betrayal of everything we stand for” because last time I looked there was no union for baristas in Seattle. I mean, maybe it’s the Royal We or maybe there’s an underground consortium for barista or something. I couldn’t figure it out. I mean, I believe he believes it’s against what he stands for but frankly, I think the whole diatribe is for [over]dramatic effect.

Speaking of drama, while my brain was recovering from the explosion caused by the original article, the reaction tweet, and the comments tacked onto the tweet, I had an epiphany and realized exactly what irked me so about this. You see, thanks to this episode – and how it’s unfolding – I finally realized why I have such [a normally internal but still] an adverse reaction to this ongoing “warm and fuzzy” mindset and “everyone should have equal everything” groupthink that has become so prevalent in the Blue States:

People care more about who is to blame for a problem and how they are punished than they care about the problem itself.

Look at this backlash that’s slapping Vita right now. Protests, Twitter posts, bandit masks on their gnome logo, wailing in the streets, angry gestures at a website, gnashing of teeth, and for what? Are all these outraged people and their actions helping the homeless? No. Not even remotely. These outraged people have a single goal: to punish a business for having an opinion they do not agree with. They use their anger, outrage, and angst to call out Vita for acting in a way they dislike and then channel all their energy into punishing Vita. But that’s where it ends. They don’t give a shit about the people that needed the free coffee or free food. They’ll keep harping on Vita until another cause comes along and redirects their outrage to something to rally against.

Need another example? Look at the backlash that flares up whenever a town wants to shut down a tent city and reclaim the public land that was being used. All the anger and outrage is brought against the town and/or the government official that is trying to shut down a Hooverville (and often fulfilling the wish of the people) but the outraged don’t care. They have to punish the people that are shutting down the test city because that’s what’s important to them. That’s where the outrage ends. If it was about the people in the tents, then their energy would be put to good use. They could really be helping people instead of just yelling at the wind, for the sake of yelling. I mean, when have you ever seen one of these protesters leave the outraged mob to offer their own yard for a homeless person’s tent? Never happens. It’s like when the outraged was angry at corporations in the world and expressed themselves by posting to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter about their outrage while using an iPhone on AT&T’s network, drinking a Starbucks coffee, and wearing Lululemon at their rallies.

These days, the protesting out there is relentless. Relentless. So relentless that it looses it’s force and sooner or later you start to wonder if it’s protesting for the sake of protesting. Even if it hasn’t, protesting has been reduced to being as powerful as putting a bumper sticker on a car. It’s now a career and profession for some people and that so… sad. It’s so sad because if people spent 1/16th of the time that they spend blaming other people, blaming companies, blaming governments, blaming – or money-shaming – anyone with a dollar with the sole intent to only punish them, they would have done so much to help fix the problem that they are so worked up about.

Even down to the other tweets out there on Spek’s original offering: “homelessness is caused by rampant inequality, lack of affordable housing, lack of a public social safety net.” Well that simple statement is a great sound bite and clears up everything! …but is it accurate? It’s as good as saying “if I scored more points, I’d have a higher score!” True statement and it points out the obvious, but that’s about it. It’s like pointing out that a puddle of water may be wet.

Either way, this pointed statement is marvelously naive from a worldview perspective. Simply put, life is unequal on every level and it always will be. How do you provide affordable housing and who defines what’s affordable? Should an apartment in urban Manhattan define affordable or should it be a place in rural Allegheny? How do you “enforce” that a place stays affordable? Should the government be providing housing for all or should it be like China, where a corporation gives you housing? Also, the US has unemployment support and social security and welfare services: how much of a net does this person want provided? “You were born, here’s a stipend for life” is some people are expecting for everyone? Definitely not the capitalist system we’ve supported for years even with our socialized programs from FDR’s days. Socialism or communism are two -isms that rarely work outside of the theoretical work because they only work if everyone buys into the system and everyone acts fairly and honestly. As soon as someone tries to work the system, it collapses for everyone: as soon as one person or group is elevated, the system immediately collapses as equality is the core tenet of both -isms. And humans cannot prevent or protect themselves from greed. In other words, see point one: life is never, ever equal for everyone.

Further, why is homelessness always defended by people by using the mythical picture of an ideal human, the person that wants so much to work/succeed but just never catches a break? Why is it never caused by a “lack of education, lack of work skills, making bad choices”? I promise you not everyone of the homeless are uneducated, unwilling to work, or addicted to a substance to the point of failure but not all the homeless are educated, willing to work, or clean either. There’s no one profile that fits all and homeless people are all over the spectrum. For every Chris Gardner from Pursuit of Happiness there’s his counterpart that is perfectly happy to not work.

Whatever else came out of this, I know realize what irks me the most when the bleeding hearts start to beat the drum about their latest outrage: they care more about who is to blame for the problem than they do about the problem and that means they do little to fix the problem.

So much outrage.


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