Who Says Capitalism Can’t Solve the Big Problems?

The “free market” will solve all our problems. Such is the faith of the age.

And behold, so it is! As reported on starbucksgossip.com:

Splash sticks — plastic plugs for sip holes with tops in the shape of the Starbucks siren — should be at all Starbucks stores by the end of the week. The blogger at Visions and Revisions Blog writes:

‘All I have to say is WOW. Another excellent use of our natural resources. Instead of encouraging people to stop driving around with their goddam coffee, or (still more unthinkable) sitting in the cafe to drink it, we’re creating a whole new line of useless plastic toys that we’ll find littered in the street along with the already-too-prevalent cups, sleeves, and lids.’

The Other Waterboarding

How they drink More news from the sick-ass “cause marketing” front:

Over a billion people in the world are lucky if they are able to drink from fetid puddles, and the “water crisis” is projected to continue rapidly worsening.

This, of course, is a consequence of the plague of extreme poverty and rapid consequent population growth that capitalism has created and proven incapable of solving.

So, how do our beloved corporate marketers react when they catch wind of the human consequences?

Listen to Peter Thum explain the transcendent effect:

I spent a lot of time around people who didn’t have access to clean drinking water. Following that, I consulted on a project in the bottled-water industry, and I realized that there was an opportunity to create a brand that people really cared about.

Yes, friends, a worldwide scourge that kills more people than AIDs and engenders untold misery leads, in the corporate capitalist world, to a new marketing opportunity!

And where is this opportunity? Is the main activity of the new “brand” going to be passing out free super-straws like the one above?

Are you kidding? Where’s the cash in that?

what ethos?Instead, what the lucky billion dying of thirst in the Third World are going to get from this new corporate marketing effort is the privilege of having Americans buy Ethos, a new brand of — you guessed it — water bottled in plastic and sold in the US for $1.85!

The basic financial math of this wondrous breakthrough in human care and concern? Mr. Thum and his co-founder of Ethos recently sold their new “brand” to the Starbucks corporation, which has now cut Pepsico in on this “cause marketing” action, for $8 million. Their “goal” — not their promise — is to donate $10 million to some unspecified lucky folks among those billion thirsty beneficiaries by 2010.

Yet, since only a nickel from each sale goes in that fund, that means there must be 200 million new bottles of Ethos sold in order for this “goal” to obtain.

And, even as it increased the cash flows to long-suffering Starbucks and Pepsico shareholders, what would that alleged $10 million provide for 1 billion people? A penny apiece.

Who would ever argue that the co-founders of this jubilee might not deserve their $4-million payments (plus forthcoming dividends from retained shares) for creating such a wondrous, efficient, and eco-friendly arrangement?