Saturday, June 18, 2005

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Which editor at the Washington Post owes Blaine Harden money?

I ask this question because a personal debt is the only possible explanation for why Harden landed a front-page story in today's WaPo about whether Starbucks is bankrupting America's highly educated youth:

At a Starbucks across the street from Seattle University School of Law, Kirsten Daniels crams for the bar exam. She's armed with color-coded pens, a don't-mess-with-me crease in her brow and what she calls "my comfort latte."

She just graduated summa cum laude, after three years of legal training that left her $115,000 in debt. Part of that debt, which she will take a decade to repay with interest, was run up at Starbucks, where she buys her lattes.

The habit costs her nearly $3 a day, and it's one that her law school says she and legions like her cannot afford....

"A latte a day on borrowed money? It's crazy," said Erika Lim, director of career services at the law school.

Absolutely correct, it's a waste of money.... unless you believe that gourmet coffee generates efficiency improvements in human capital formation.... and student loans usually have lower-than-average interest rates.... and the income boost provided by law school massively outweighs the cost of Starbucks consumption.... and question whether after racking up over $115,000 in debt, it's really the extra thousand or two rom coffee consumption that affects career choices... and you believe Harden's underlying, unproven premise that too many students consume too many lattes.

I could go on, or ask caffienne addict Brad DeLong or Starbuck enthusiast Virginia Postrel to go on, but I see that David Adesnik has already addressed this issue -- go check him out.

posted by Dan on 06.18.05 at 09:45 PM


As an indebt student, survivng through grad school on espresso -- all I'll say in my (our) defense is -- what was Europe like pre-coffee? Enlightenment and coffee introduced similiar times. Coincidence? I think not.

posted by: Jor on 06.18.05 at 09:45 PM [permalink]

You'd better be producing some new kind of Age of Enlightenment, then. And I won't buy the "every day is an Age of Enlightenment all its own" argument, either. =)

posted by: Ernie Oporto on 06.18.05 at 09:45 PM [permalink]

What they didn't study is whether the act of sitting over at Starbucks with a latte made the students feel so good that they got more out of their study time than they would have elsewhere with a glass of water (or nothing)

Maybe it was a slow day over at the Post, after the Downing Street memo

Mocking the Downing Street Memo

posted by: NewsBlaze on 06.18.05 at 09:45 PM [permalink]

Of course, Dan.

this is comming from a guy who himself has more to say about Katie Holmes than the Downing Street Memo.

posted by: Michael Carroll on 06.18.05 at 09:45 PM [permalink]

The CDC has a report coming out warning that a latte habit adds to the nation's obesity epidemic. It recommends that latte-drinking indebted students switch to black coffee (Sumatran or French Roast in the morning, Kenya AA after big meals) for better health, reduction of future indebtedness and because, says the report, "...such is the way of manly men."

Well that's what I heard.

posted by: Zathras on 06.18.05 at 09:45 PM [permalink]

Are the editors of the WaPo suicidal? Don't they know better than to try to mess with our caffinne.

posted by: NYgirl on 06.18.05 at 09:45 PM [permalink]

I brewed my own coffee when I was in college.

But since I was spending my old man's money,
and I got out of school without any loans, I
gladly would have dropped some of his cash on

If only had it been around back then.

I know that my own children do (did) the
Starbuck's thing, since it isn't their
money either. :-}

posted by: Ted on 06.18.05 at 09:45 PM [permalink]

But... Starbuck has horrible coffee in horrible mugs (or worse paper cups!) in a crap athmosphere.

No, if you are going to bankrupt yourself drinking coffee don't go to starbucks (is this really the best coffee available in Seattle?) give the bank's money to someone who cares about what they are serving up!

posted by: Tadhgin on 06.18.05 at 09:45 PM [permalink]

I attended the referenced law school -- yep, Starbucks is across the street. Laptops at SU Law are mandatory and you can even log onto the SU Law webserver while in Starbucks. To spend $3 per day at Starbucks, you would only get a 16 ounce Vente drip. So, how does she arrive at $4,000 over 3 years? That would roughly work out to 1,333 Vente drip orders -- meaning SU Law students while attending classes 5 days per week purchase (estimating 216 days over the academic year) about 6.2 vente drip a day for a estimated total of $18 per day. Obviously Erika didn't have a math, accounting or finance undergraduate major if she believes that the total student cost at Starbucks for an SU student is $3 per day. If the total number of days is increased to 365 days in the calendar year, the daily consumption of Vente drip coffee is 3.76 daily -- the cost is $11.75. How did Erika Lim come up $3 per day? Then again, law professors would sneering refer to a case where an "accounting" was necessary -- performing simple calculations is obviously beneath any "real" attorney.

posted by: Debbie on 06.18.05 at 09:45 PM [permalink]

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