This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, July 17, 2015:
Luddites used violence in their failing efforts to stall progress. Democrats are much more circumspect in their intentions. Writing in the Washington Post, ultra-liberal Democrat Mark Warner voiced his “concerns” about those seeking to make a living outside of corporate America in the “sharing” or “collaborative” economy:
The U.S. workforce is increasingly composed of freelancers, independent contractors, and the otherwise self-employed. Yet Washington has mostly remained on the sidelines….
As many as one-third of U.S. workers now find themselves piecing together two, three, or more on-demand work opportunities to make a living….
This means that companies do not have to pay costs such as health insurance or retirement benefits. They also typically do not pay a share of unemployment or workers’ compensation coverage.
Warner is concerned not only about the decline in tax revenues likely as more and more Americans join the millions already enjoying providing services in the sharing economy, but also about the risks they are taking:
These workers, even if they are doing very well, exist on a high wire, with no safety net beneath them. That may work for many of them – until the day that it doesn’t.
That’s also the day that taxpayers could be handed the bill….
There’s the Progressive mindset: government must take care of everyone, at the expense of everyone else.
Many Americans are making extra money renting out a spare room, designing websites, selling products they design themselves at home, or even driving their own car.
This “on demand” or so-called “gig economy” is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation, but it’s also raising questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.
Why someone who has never held a real job in her life would have the audacity to be concerned about what a “good job” will look like to someone else is unclear. But it’s that Progressive mindset again that presumes that the “elite” knows what’s best for everyone else.
As for those involved in the sharing economy, they’re doing just fine. According to Slideshare.net more than 80 million Americans are providing services to other Americans through peer-to-peer e-commerce websites with some predicting that number will double in the next twelve months.
As Charles Cooke, a staff writer at National Review Online, noted, using Uber as an example:
For us [consumers], the arrival of a system such as Uber is salutary, not scary: It is an end to waiting in the rain for a state-approved cab; it is the key to a transportation experience a cut above that which is provided by the cartels; it is the source of golden opportunities for those who wish to construct odd or custom-built work schedules or to make money without answering to a boss. That a few ingenious programmers have found a way around the artificial scarcity, state-union collusion, and high barriers to entry that The Man has seen fit to impose is, in our view, an extremely positive development.
More of this, please!
Slideshare notes that millions are already finding their way in the sharing economy without the help of Hillary and Warner:
Rather than buying new goods from big brands, customers buy pre-owned goods from each other on eBay. Rather than hiring a moving company, customers get moving help from TaskRabbit. Rather than owning a car, customers share cars on demand via Car2Go. Rather than staying at hotels, customers stay in homes through Airbnb. Rather than getting a loan from a bank, customers borrow from each other through Lending Club.
Uber already has services available in 58 countries, while Lyft, founded less than three years ago, already operates in 65 U.S. cities. Car2Go is the largest car-sharing company in the world with over a million members. Lending Club has already originated more than $7 billion in loans. Airbnb has a million listings in 34,000 cities in 190 countries. TaskRabbit has just reinvented itself with its goal of being the “Uber of everything.” Etsy has 54 million users with 29 million items listed on its website. In 2014 Etsy clocked total sales of nearly $2 billion.
It’s no wonder that collectivists like Hillary Clinton and Mark Warner are getting nervous and expressing concerns about the “gig” economy: it’s running away from them. After all, collectivists like to “collect” and this part of the economy simply can’t be tamed. It can’t even be counted much less controlled.
There is a side benefit: if Hillary continues to press the matter, she runs the risk of offending and alienating 80 million Americans who joined the sharing economy because they want to be left alone to make their own futures, free from interference by politicians like her. It’s a delicious conundrum for her.
Mercatus.org: Confronting the Sharing Economy
National Review Online: Hillary Clinton’s Uber Speech Belongs in 1930s America
MarketWatch.com: Hillary Clinton takes aim at Uber economy in speech
Mark Warner: Asking tough questions about the gig economy
Slideshare.net: Sharing is the new buying