Whether we call this capitalism or free markets is arguable of course but the headline writer here is insistent that there's something very wrong with this situation:
Why do we eat lunch at our desks? Because capitalism
Lunch as we know it today has evolved from its humble origins, but efficiency has always been its true calling card. Get ready for a future of sad desk meal-replacement beverage lunches
The actual writer seems less upset:
The power lunch has also been replaced with a slew of new, powered-by-technology lunch startups, all promising to spice up your workday meal. UberEatsoffers fast delivery from local restaurants, meaning that your options to go broke buying lunch have significantly expanded. New York’s Maple delivers a rotating menu of celebrity-created lunch options for a flat $12 fee. Arcade lets you order meals by text. Bots have also emerged as a new way to more seamlessly order lunch from within productivity platforms. Taco Bell, for example, has integrated with workplace messaging company Slack to offer an AI-powered ordering service. Users talk with the bot, order food and pay through Slack.
Then there are new lunch services that help you get you out of the office, even if just to pick up your food. MealPass, started by a founder of ClassPass, is a subscription-style lunch model that offers a daily selection of weekday lunch options for $119 a month, which works out to around $6 a lunch. You log on to the service before 9.30am, pick one of the options available near your office, and pop out to collect it at a designated time. I tried it out for a couple days and it definitely injected variety into my usual lunch routine – which generally consists of going to the nearest purveyor of foodstuffs and buying the same sandwich every day.
That capitalism/free market mix seems to be making things rather better really, doesn't it? Myriad new options sprouting up as the newly available technological space is explored.
This is not just true of desk based lunch options either. We're not going to praise the culinary excellence of the low end of the frozen pizza market but the mid-range of the supermarket prepared meal spectrum is markedly better than the mean, median or modal British cuisine of 30 years ago. We know because we were there eating that stuff.
It is indeed entirely possible to complain about what all this capitalism and free markets does to us all. Adam Smith himself pointed out that a too rigorous division of labour can leave a man as an automaton performing the same dreary task repetitively. But to complain that we've now the greatest choice of comestibles available to any group of humans ever, cheaper than anyone previously dreamed of before, does seem to be a strange whine about an economic system.