Tuesday, August 21, 2018

San Francisco wants to ban tech companies from giving free lunches; "protectionism" for restaurants?

San Francisco is trying to get tech companies to stop giving free lunches, possibly with an ordinance, as in this Fox News video.

The reason is to help local restaurants.  Here we have a local government picking winners and losers.  Well, the big companies can’t be losers.

This sounds like protectionism.  It's like complaining about me because I give away too much of my own material free, competing "unfairly" with other authors or not helping booksellers have more job openings. 
Tech companies are also known to offer free meals at generous cafeterias on their main campuses.
Some companies offer free coffee.  But others have clean desk policies!  (Think about a bank with a desk visible from the street.)  Some pundits want to abolish lunch.  For walkthroughs, I’m used to having a donut run (at least in Dallas) first.  Good for hypoglycemia.  At Bradford National in New York, we did have a caterer who came by and sold delicious sandwiches, at $3.50 a pop in 1978 (even on the day the Yankees took the pennant from the Red Sox with Bucky Dent’s homer). 
There could be a good question as to whether the free meal is taxable compensation. For example, employers almost never pay commuting expenses (although some do have discount transit passes and may have van services).  They generally don’t pay relocation for new employees (although they did when I started working in 1970) or interviewing expenses (although they did again when I was leaving the Army with the late 1969 interviews).
Wikipedia attribution link for CoastoCoast picture of ATT Giants stadium in San Francisco, CCSA 3.0. 

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