Saturday, April 9, 2011

The daring heroism of...Kraft?

A couple of years ago, the US Supreme Court decided that corporations could in many respects enjoy the same legal privileges as United States citizens. The most important part of that decision was that it opened the door for corporations to funnel essentially unlimited money into our elections...anonymously.

It took but a single ele
ction cycle to illustrate what unlimited corporate money in the political process would wrought. Completely unqualified candidates, plucked out of nowhere, to run on radical agendas with corporate-financed and polished messages, while career public servants who've served the interests of the American people on both sides of the aisle found themselves underfunded and out of luck.

And just hours ago, the US government shutdown held hostage by these newly-elected extremists was narrowly averted. For now

But the other day, I discovered perhaps a less disheartening but more curious consequence of the Court's Citizen's United ruling: The rise of the corporate biography.

Now, maybe this exciting genre of literary journalism has always been around and it's just never caught my eye before. But, within the span of a few days, I was confronted with 2 thrilling tales of the little companies that could - and did - against all odds. I am preparing my heart to be warmed.

Last week, my son filmed a project at Seattle's Museum of Flight. We decided to join and as a part of membership packet were handed Character and Characters: The Spirit of Alaska Airlines.

Yesterday, I stopped
in at my favorite Starbucks only to discover that our homegrown coffee monolith, too, has a poignant tale of rags to riches to share with us. CEO Howard Shultz offers us Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul.

Don't get me wrong - I'm sure both AA and Starbucks have fascinating histories - there is a pioneer spirit here in the upper left hand corner that persists even today and permeates our culture. Neither transforming a small wilderness plane operation into a successful and fiercely brand loyal airline nor convincing the entire globe that they simply are not paying enough for their morning cup of coffee are not inconsequential feats.

But I recall the day, not too far in the distant past, when we cozied up with a good book about Teddy Roosevelt, Lewis & Clark, or Amelia Earhart. Often, people did heroic - or insane - things because the commercial interests at the time paid them to do it. But, the story - the story was about the person, or people, and the funding context was secondary, at best. It's a little tough for me to get my hero worship in full swing for Starbucks. Still...

Maybe there's something in here for me after all...

Stop Sign Farm Inc: Changing The World One Egg At A Time

Hello - Random House?

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