How do subsidized lunches hurt cities?

If you help us build the tools that destroy democracies, the least we can do is buy you a sandwich.

What was once a simple perk is suddenly a political statement, at least as framed by city supervisors in this piece on banning corporate free lunch policies.

“These tech companies have decided to leave their suburban campuses because their employees want to be in the city, and yet the irony is, they come to the city and are creating isolated, walled-off campuses,” said Aaron Peskin, a city supervisor who is co-sponsoring the bill with Ahsha Safaí. “This is not against these folks, it’s for them. It’s to integrate them into the community.”

“We gave huge tax breaks to revitalize neighborhoods,” Mr. Peskin said. “But instead, they’re all walled into their tech palaces.”

City lawmakers should definitely think of creative ways to ensure economic prosperity radiates outward from the biggest companies in town. Employees, rightfully, wonder if they’re at the losing end here.

How real is the threat of corporate subsidized lunches to the city?

What impact might this sort of policy actually have on local restaurants?

What unintended consequences might make this backfire?

Who should pay to fight urban homelessness?

Opposing taxes to help the homeless the same year you become the world’s richest human: not a great look.

This Ringer examination of the rise and fall of Seattle’s proposed “Head Tax” (a.k.a. “Amazon Tax”) mirrors something currently being proposed in San Francisco, in which large companies pay an additional per-employee tax to fund programs addressing the very problems created by their massive success — knock-on effects of income inequality and population surge, such as homelessness, traffic/transit congestion, displacement, etc.

No one wants to punish success, but as a resident of one of these cities, it’s getting dire. And at the end of the day, someone will have to pay a bit more to set up solutions to these problems.

Obviously these are intertwined; tax businesses more, wages might go down. Leave cities to solve these problems without raising taxes on anyone, that money comes out of other services. So: what’s the best pocket to pick here?

Who should pay more to battle homelessness – individuals, cities, or businesses?


Should progressives push for more corporate expansion in red states?

Amazon hq2 map

Above: list of cities where houses “with good schools, but you know, still near cool restaurants” are about to get annoyingly expensive.

This week, Amazon announced its shortlist of cities being considered for “HQ2”, their second giant corporate facility bringing tens of thousands of supposedly good-paying tech jobs.

Plenty can be argued about the vast tax incentives being given away to one of the richest businesses around, the propriety of a private company making municipalities grovel to be blessed with precious new-economy jobs — and we should have those conversations too!

But today I was struck by a more tangential thought about demographics. Several of these cities are in places that young, educated, progressive people (a.k.a. voters) are leaving in order to move to coastal urban centers that are already filled with other young progressive people like them — because that’s where the good jobs are. That migration is what’s throwing off the traditional balance of urban/rural, (a.k.a. progressive/conservative) in the states whose major cultural centers are on the decline due to industries shrinking or consolidating (particularly, say, Indiana or Ohio). One big company keeping more of those people in-state theoretically breeds other off-shoot companies, and helps keep the urban vs rural percentage in a state with only mid-size cities bluer.

Essentially, where Amazon places its second headquarters could literally swing a state, electorally.

Should progressive people be encouraging big companies to move jobs to red-to-purple states to drive more urbanization in smaller US cities?

Does this give more power to corporations, or politicize economic decisions, in ways we should be wary of? Or is this all power and political will corporations have now, that we the people should exert more influence over?