TWO MEMBERS of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors have come up with an idea to make their city great again: Ban company cafeterias in new commercial office buildings. Ahsha Safaí and Aaron Peskin are proposing a change in the zoning code that would end the practice, especially popular in the tech industry, of providing free or discounted food for employees at on-site cafeterias. Their goal: Force hungry employees to leave their workplaces and patronize nearby restaurants. Shutting down private cafeterias is an example of "forward looking legislation," Peskin told the San Francisco Examiner. "People will have to go out and eat lunch with the rest of us."
Safaí and Peskin introduced their measure at a joint press conference with the director of the local restaurant association, which is delighted by the prospect of using government coercion to direct more business to its members. As an instance of blatant rent-seeking by private businesses trying to avoid competition, this is beyond shameless. But it's especially appalling as an example of public policymaking.
"We don't want employees biking or driving into their office, staying there all day long, and going home," Safaí declares. "This is about getting people out of their office, interacting with the community, and adding to the vibrancy of the community."
As confirmed liberals, Safaí and Peskin may take it for granted that everything is the government's business — up to and including where employees have lunch . . .