I've never been a big Starbucks fan, first and foremost because I'm not a coffee addict.
If I do crave a jolt of java, I want a plain old Cup of Joe, not a soy hazelnut vanilla cinnamon white mocha frappe topped with espresso shots and made from beans grown by monks on a small volcanic atoll in the Pacific.
Besides, if they don't give you a free refill, I'm not interested.
Then there's my adverse reaction to massive chain operations that plunk down a store on each and every street corner. I'm told that in downtown Los Angeles, in a rectangle formed by Figueroa, 3rd, Olive, and 5th, an area less than a third of a mile on its long side and less than a quarter mile on its short side, there are nine Starbucks. I believe it.
The company was audacious enough to open a store in Beijing's 587-year-old Forbidden City several years ago until protests by the citizenry concerned with preserving their culture closed it down.
It would be like selling lattes in the Lincoln Memorial.
But I've recently become a convert to Starbucks and it happened without one drop of their product touching my lips.
My conversion came courtesy of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who like many of us, is angry with the political gridlock in Washington and the effect it is having on the American people and the economy.
Writing in a recent issue of Newsweek, Schultz outlined a plan of action to shake things up in language that is both bold and refreshing for a corporate leader.
"I've recently persuaded more than 100 top executives to sign a two-part pledge," Schultz said. "First, they'll make no political donations until there's a courageous, long-term, bipartisan debt and financial security plan that addresses both entitlements and revenues; second, they'll commit to continue making investments that accelerate job growth.
"Why would I turn to activism?" he wrote. "Because, like so many Americans, I'm outraged. Four billion dollars was spent during the 2008 election cycle, and an estimated $5.5 billion will be spent for 2012. Meanwhile, people are out of work, the economy continues to founder and nothing is getting done in Washington.
"This is no longer a crisis of leadership. It's an emergency. The lack of cooperation and irresponsibility among elected officials today, as they have put partisan agendas before the people's agenda, is stunning and outrageous.
"Just think about what all that campaign money could do for the education system, for the social services that our politicians are poised to cut.
"Just think about how the petty bickering in the halls of Congress has degraded the brand reputation of America around the world," Schultz wrote. "This might be the kind of leadership we have come to expect, but it's not what we deserve.
"...I've heard from thousands of Americans I've never met, expressing support and gratitude. Like-minded business leaders have committed to doing what we can to ignite job creation, regardless of what's taking place in Washington.
"At the very least, we can work to inspire confidence to counteract the damage our ostensible leaders are doing inside the Beltway. In other words, we need to unleash an upward spiral of confidence that reverses the cycle of fear and uncertainty plaguing our country."
I suggested in a column last week that our elected representatives should have their pay and benefits cut unless they pass meaningful legislation dealing with jobs and the economy, admittedly a real longshot since they would have to vote to punish themselves.
Schultz scores a bull's-eye by attacking contributions, a mainstay of political survival. And as a longtime contributor to the Democratic Party, he's putting his money where his mouth is: no donations to President Obama who he has financially supported in the past.
Joining him in this effort are some notable giants of industry including Tim Armstrong, chairman and CEO of AOL; Millard Drexler, chairman and CEO of the J. Crew Group; Warren Bennis, founding chairman of the Leadership Institute at USC; Dan DiMicco, chairman and CEO of Nucor Corp.; Bob Greifeld, CEO of NASDAQ; Kevin Johnson, CEO of Juniper Networks; Duncan Niederauer, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange; Walter Robb, CEO of Whole Foods; Myron Ullman, CEO of JC Penney and Co. and many others.
So far, 22,269 people who agree have taken the pledge to withhold campaign contributions, according to Schultz's website, Upward Spiral2011.
That's not a tidal wave. Yet. But with another six months of congressional ineptitude, it might become