Robert Reich: Why the Sharing Economy Is Hurting Workers



I'm in an Uber, part of the explosion in the
so-called sharing economy. This very group includes independent contractors,
free agents, temporary workers, the self-employed, part-timers, freelancers, and free agents. Most file 1099s rather than W2s, for tax purposes. It’s estimated that in five years over 40
percent of the American labor force will be in such uncertain work; in a decade, most
of us. This trend shifts all economic risks onto
workers. A downturn in demand, or sudden change in
consumer needs, or a personal injury or sickness, can make it impossible to pay the bills. It eliminates labor protections such as the
minimum wage, worker safety, family and medical leave, and overtime. And it ends employer-financed insurance – Social
Security, workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, and employer-provided health insurance
under the Affordable Care Act. No wonder, according to polls, almost a quarter
of American workers worry they won’t be earning enough in the future. That’s up from 15 percent a decade ago. Such uncertainty can be hard on families,
too. Children of parents working unpredictable
schedules or outside standard daytime working hours are likely to have lower cognitive skills
and more behavioral problems, according to new research. What to do? Courts are overflowing with lawsuits over
whether companies have misclassified “employees” as “independent contractors,” resulting
in a profusion of criteria and definitions. We should aim instead for simplicity: Whoever
pays more than half of someone’s income, or provides more than half their working hours
should be responsible for all the labor protections and insurance an employee is entitled to. In addition, to restore some certainty to
people’s lives, we need to move away from unemployment insurance and toward income insurance. Say, for example, your monthly income dips
more than 50 percent below the average monthly income you’ve received from all the jobs
you’ve taken over the preceding five years. With income insurance, you’d automatically
receive half the difference for up to a year. It’s possible to have a flexible economy
and also provide workers some minimal level of security. We must do so.




Comments
  1. The Sharing Economy what's it all about ?
    Sharing cars,apartments and all kind of services and goods is sensible to do.
    The natural resources on Earth are running dry, if this go on then we are compelled to pay for drink water say $1,00 p/lt. and to pay a tax for our daily air consumption, fuel for cars is only available for millionaires,at this moment it looks unbelievable,impossible even,but sadly enough it's a realistic near future scheme.
    What begun at first with a simple can I borrow some sugar from your neighbour,when you've arrived at your new house, is spiralled out of control in a positive way.
    The old economy where everything depends from supply and demand is expensive, slow and inefficient.The sharing economy however is flexible,cheap,environment friendly and social for starters.Thinking creative,it's the best receipe to avoid getting bankrupt; for example: a chain of warehouses,restaurants and shops can share their profits but also their losses,this method can save jobs and even lives; if companies offering a shared job for two employees,that can add 250.000 jobs for every 1.000.000 unemployed.

  2. Looks like a philosophy based on corporate propaganda to give more central power to government programs and insurance companies since that's being threatened.

  3. this also means u get taxed like an employee. u pay into a corrupt government that takes your taxes and then drones some babies in iran. good for you!! then u also pay into a bankrupt social security and medicare that wont be there when its yur turn to collect. alot of people dont want this reclassification. what about them and there freedoms. fuck them i guess. anybody in this country still believe in freedom? guess not.this sharing economy is in its infancy and wont always be the same.its as free market as its going to be but these jobs are for low skilled people. if you had any marketable skills you would start yur own business and make more. so get a skill thats in demand.this guy on the video is a government puke who wants to rob you not help you.they just want more taxes.

  4. The biggest problem is that the old ideas of what constitutes a living wage and a career are being overturned by these technological and business advances.

    Hitting things with the regulatory hammer like Reich and those of his persuasion think should be done fails to get to the bottom of how to reconcile innovation with traditional work patterns.

    My fear is that these kinds of regulations would stifle innovation, or they would add another hurdle that just gets demolished. Inequality is a problem because the cream of the crop are better now than ever before and can do better than every before while others simply inhabit their world, but have lost security of an inefficient unionized protected job. Basic income simply feeds the beast more, and lack of basic income means poverty.

  5. People ("aka workers") should be free to chose whatever wage and whatever job they want.

    If someone wants to work for less than minimum wage, or without insurance, that's their decision, not Robert Reich's.

    Robert, you can kiss my fat ass homie.

  6. I've been caught up in this crap 1099 stuff of late and half the time I don't even get paid and when I enquire I get bullshit answers and no real stats or paper work. This has cost me and tax payers probably more in the long run. As usual various "entities" fail to see the interconnectedness of all things at many levels.

  7. The trouble with Reich's solution is that it shift all burdens on small businesses. Large business will typically have its core workforce work full time and have the resource to pay wages above the minimum. Small businesses will have to look to automation in order to maintain cost. Since small business hire most of the workers, pushing these burden onto small business will stagnant employment. What many leftists fail to understand is that small business are squeezed by both debt and cost of hiring.

  8. There is a simple solution to this problem. Enact a Basic Income of approximately $30,000 for all Americans and pass single payer healthcare. This would eliminate so much bureaucracy it would probably pay for itself. Employers would be forced to offer decent wages and working conditions in order to attract workers. People would be happy to work on a schedule of their own choosing, parents would be able to spend more time with their children. Every time a robot took over a monotonous job we would rejoice instead of stress. We have the wealth to do this – we need to develop the will.

  9. I like Mr. Reich's work a lot, but he is dead wrong on this issue. The so-called 'sharing economy' increases the number modes of living and working available to the average citizen, and thereby increase liberty, opportunity and social mobility. Much of this new form of income is being created by making it possible for people to provide new kinds of services people simply were not using before. It is not 'taking' or destroying "good-jobs"from someone else as Mr. Reich grossly mis-states (and does not factually demonstrate). He should try making his pitch from the driver's seat of an Uber car, not the passenger's – he might discover an entirely different point of view.

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