Where have all the capitalists gone?

It’s an odd question for a lefty to be asking, but I am not talking about other lefties, I am talking about the much more mainstream/politicically engage people I work with.

Step back, let’s have ourselves some discussion. I work at a university it has a central area with a number of cafés. A couple of years ago one of the cafes protested the universities decision to open rent space for another café, they put a partition up, arguing that more competition would raise prices, an interesting hypothesis to say the least. I refused to sign on the basis that I don’t support private companies trying to maintain a monopoly, I’m funny like that. I saw this as one company trying to put around a self interested partition. I suspected they got there signatures from students because the heading was something along the lines of “STOP FOOD COSTING MORE” I appear to be wrong.

Today a coworker, who wasn’t at this university when the partition went around told me she wouldn’t support a newly opened café within the library because it was taking market share away from the cafes outside, after that statement we got busy, so I wasn’t able to ask her what she meant by it, why she felt better supporting existing private businesses over a new business (which may or may not be university run, however if it is, then any money it made would support the existence of her job).

There are around 15 food businesses here, including an Indian place, a dumpling place a couple of sandwich places, while every extra competitor may make it harder to get the amount of business needed to cover costs, my coworkers considers the adding of a 16th café a boycotting matter, buying coffee from a less convenient location so to avoid supporting a café which dared to open on the other 15’s turf.

I don’t know if my coworker would call herself a capitalist or pro free market, but I would be seriously surprised if she didn’t support the basic concept of a private business based economy and yet, in her actions, she seems to support a political system more like the guild rackets of the middle ages and even with my views on capitalism, I wonder why the hell anyone unconnected to shops would want to support less competition as a general policy.

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