On Other Blogs Today

On Other Blogs Today: Social Engineering, Genetic Engineering, and More

Our daily roundup.

By Erica C. Barnett September 18, 2013


1. On the company's web site, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wrote an impassioned open letter yesterday asking customers to refrain from bringing guns into Starbucks stores.

Backstory: Last month, gun-rights advocates declared August 9 "Starbucks Appreciation Day" because the coffee megachain declined to unilaterally ban guns in all its stores; Schultz's letter clarifies the company's position on guns and asks patrons to voluntarily leave their weapons at home:

"First, this is a request and not an outright ban. Why? Because we want to give responsible gun owners the chance to respect our request—and also because enforcing a ban would potentially require our partners to confront armed customers, and that is not a role I am comfortable asking Starbucks partners to take on. Second, we know we cannot satisfy everyone. For those who oppose “open carry,” we believe the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores. For those who champion “open carry,” please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable. The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers."


2. In an odd shot selection, the Seattle Times' editorial board comes out strongly against a popular proposed business improvement area, or special taxing district, in the SoDo neighborhood, arguing that the "gritty" area shouldn't be transformed into a retail and office district, even if that's what businesses in the area want.

In an especially peculiar bit of cognitive dissonance, the paper argues that because SoDo doesn't have a lot of parks, safe rail crossings, and retail businesses, it shouldn't have a BIA that would help it build parks, safe rail crossings, and retail businesses—even though a majority of landowners in the neighborhood have signed petitions saying that that's exactly what they want.

Telling a neighborhood it shouldn't be allowed to change even when a majority of property owners say they want it to? Sounds an awful lot like social engineering to preserve the industrial businesses of the last century over the vibrant urban neighborhoods of this one.

3. The Washington Budget and Policy Center's blog Schmudget (Yiddish for budget) has issued a report concluding that even with the state estimating an additional $345 million in revenue over the next two years (yay!) the budget still won't recover without major economic reforms (boo!), including increased taxes on capital gains and extending the sales tax to include not just goods but services. 

4. KOMO News truth-squads the most recent TV ads for and against I-522, which would require companies to label genetically modified foods, and concludes that the "No" side is being more honest.

But that conclusion only holds up if you agree with KOMO's contention that the pro-522 side is oversimplifying the impact the initiative would have because a lot of products will be exempt—something proponents have never denied (and as PubliCola reporter Shirley Qiu pointed out in a Cola One Question with the opponents: dissonantly implies that they're calling for more comprehensive GMO labeling.) You'd also have to agree with opponents' claim that food companies willl just switch to non-GMO products instead of complying with labeling requirements, which they already do throughout the European Union.


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