In 1893 and 1907, JP Morgan, a financier, used his considerable power, influence and leadership skills to save our economy from major economic downturns after Americans lost confidence in the economy and there was a serious lack of liquidity in the market.  104 years later, we are in the same situation and, for the last 3 years, have been lacking the leadership of someone such as JP Morgan.  About 2.5 years ago, I wrote a post asking who could fill the role of JP Morgan in our current fiscal crisis.  I think we have finally found our answer in Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks.

A few weeks ago, Schultz called on fellow executives to sign a pledge to stop donating to political campaigns until Washington can pass a bi-partisan, fiscally-disciplined deal to reduce the deficit.  In addition, he asked that the executives also agree to accelerate hiring within their businesses to assist in the economic recovery.

Schultz has written two open letters to America.  Although Schultz is a lifelong Democrat, he equally criticizes both sides of the aisle for partisanship and a complete lack of fiscal discipline, which he refers to as a ‘crisis of confidence’.  The following is an excerpt from his latest letter, but you can read the full letters here.

And I am a beneficiary of the promise of America.  But today, I am very concerned that at times I do not recognize the America that I love.

Like so many of you, I am deeply disappointed by the pervasive failure of leadership in Washington.  And also like you, I am frustrated by our political leaders’ steadfast refusal to recognize that, for every day they perpetuate partisan conflict and put ideology over country, America and Americans suffer from the combined effects of paralysis and uncertainty.  Americans can’t find jobs. Small businesses can’t get credit.  And the fracturing of consumer confidence continues.

We are better than this.

His letters and the pledge are very bold moves for any executive, much less one of a large, public company.  Leaders of these types of businesses often blow with the political wind to remain in favour with the party in power.  It’s almost unheard of for one to publicly speak out against Washington, as Schultz has, because it could result in many forms of backlash from offended politicians.

Few thought that his pledge would gain any traction, but in a few short weeks, he has garnered signatures from over 150 business leaders, such as Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO of AOL, Bob Greifeld, CEO of NASDAQ, Doug Hertz, CEO and President of United Distributors, Duncan Niederaur, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, Walter Robb, Co-CEO of Whole Foods, Myron Ullman, CEO of JCPenney.

In addition, Schultz has founded Upward Spiral.  It is intended as a platform for business leaders and individuals alike to show bi-partisan discontent with Washington and the direction of this country.  Last night, Upward Spiral and No Labels (an organization that believes parties need to be put aside to move this country forward), held a national town hall meeting, headlined by Schultz, to discuss how to get America back on track.  Click here to watch the full town hall.

Schultz may not be locking Obama and the leaders of Congress in his library as Morgan did so many years ago, but he’s doing something that is even more powerful… he’s taking away their money.  My hope is that Schultz and Upward Spiral continue to gain traction.  I have signed his pledge and will support Starbucks (not just because they recently brought back the pumpkin spice latte) and the other companies represented.  I hope you do the same.

Do you think Schultz will be successful in forcing Washington to create a fiscally-disciplined debt reduction plan and bring down unemployment?  If so, how do you think it will impact 2012?

Comments

  • Joyce A (East of Eden)

    I hope they don’t start raiding him, like they’ve been raiding Gibson Guitars for doing this…serioulsy!

    I think it’s a step in the right direction though. I know companies would love to hire more people, make more products/services and go forward, but they are scared to do so. This is what Obama and his group do not get…they are not inspiring confidence in the market, best they get out of the way and let things happen. But being the megalomaniac he is that’s not going to happen.