warnerby James A. Bacon

Senator Mark Warner, D-Virginia, has latched onto a fascinating issue: the “disaggregation of the workplace.” That’s wonk talk for the Uber-ization of the United States economy, in which an increasing percentage of the population engages in contingency work outside the highly regulated setting of full-time employment. Warner rightly calls this trend “the most radical transformation of the American workplace in the past 30 years,” and he thinks that people in Washington need to start talking about it.

Warner’s right about one thing: The rise of the contingency workforce is indeed rewriting the social contract between employer and employee. But I’m not so sure it’s a good idea for the politicians to get involved. I’d like to see evidence that contingency employment is broken before Congress tries to fix it.

In the gig economy, also called the sharing economy, workers engage in a contractual relationship with customers to provide services — the conveyance of passengers in Uber cars, or completion of a writing contract, or fulfillment of an IT task. The advantage is an unprecedented degree of flexibility. Workers are free to take on as much work as they can find, or as little as they want. They are more geographically mobile, not tied to one particular location. They can set their own hours. They can pick and choose whom they want to work with, and if they don’t like a relationship, they are free to leave it.

The downside is that there are no government-mandated employment benefits or protections. Free-lancers don’t get company-provided pensions or health-care benefits. They don’t get unemployment benefits, worker’s compensation or disability. “If there is no safety net,” says Warner in the USA Today interview seen here, “someone can hit a rough patch and have no alternative but to fall back on government assistance programs.”

Warner does not necessarily advocate extending the old workforce model to the contingency workforce. He wants to start thinking about how to improve the new model. Washington, he says, needs to look at things like hour banks (a currency exchange in which the unit of exchange is a person-hour of time) or opt-ins (I’m not sure what he’s referring to) or models emerging in Europe.

Contigency workers already have the option to purchase health and disability insurance on the open market, and they have the option to put money into IRAs. It’s not always easy finding the money to divert to those self-insurance programs, however, so not everyone chooses to take advantage of them. Paternalists no doubt fret that current arrangements that leave “too much” discretion to workers and that bad decisions might result in people relying upon the federal safety net.

As a contingency worker myself, living off Bacon’s Rebellion sponsorships and free-lance work, I value the freedom I have to work at home, meet with a driveway paving contractor (as I did today), pick up my kid from school (as I will do later), zip over to the neighborhood pool to swim a few laps (which I’ll do if I have enough time), and prepare dinner for when my wife gets home from her 8-to-7 job. If that freedom means working nights and weekends to get the job done, that’s my decision. I like this way of life.

I’m all in favor of expanding peoples’ choices, something that the private sector is particularly adept at doing. I would bitterly oppose legislation in which Congressmen or bureaucrats decide that they know what’s best for me and tell me how I need to allocate my income. Unfortunately, I’ve never known Congress to look at a “problem” and fail to find a “solution.” Right now, I’m not convinced there’s a problem that needs fixing, and, despite Warner’s perspicacity in spotting a new trend, I’m not sure I want Congress monkeying around with it.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


  1. NoVaShenandoah Avatar

    I have been in the ‘gig’ economy for a long time. Let me correct that: I was in it until I had a heart incident and became uninsurable. That is when I found out how big a buffoon the likes of Scalia (yes, the SC Justice) are who think of health care as subject to market forces. It never has been. I was forced from being self-employed to becoming an employee.

    So, to see whether the contingency market is broken: It Already IS! If you want to level the field, do away with fringe benefits, that includes paid vacations and holidays – yes, salaries must be raised. Also treat ALL revenue equally for tax purposes. That means whether salary, benefit, divident, etc. Clarify what is a business expense, and a legitimate deduction (for instance FICA), and tax what remains equally.

    Further, things that are necessary for existence, such as health care coverage, are part of a single payer system that is available to all, without exception (that means you don;t ask for papers or other such stupidities).

    As I said, I spent most of my life in the ‘gig’ business, and actually would rather go back.

    1. I agree, the health care piece is critical. Obamacare is, to my mind, a grossly flawed response to the problem of individuals finding themselves priced out of the health-care insurance marketplace, but I will concede that it does try to address a real problem. Perhaps medical insurance is one issue that Congress is justified in trying to fix (especially if the Supreme Court disallows subsidies in federally operated exchanges).

      Otherwise, I don’t see any problems that need fixing.

      1. NoVaShenandoah Avatar

        Health care is one. Another piece that needs adjustment is the tax code – it is a relic of WW2 practices when labor was short and also currently penalizes work in favor of wealth. It is this latter distinction that be eliminated, that is why I said ‘revenue’ not ‘income’.

      2. larryg Avatar

        re: problems that don’t need fixing

        employer-provided is insurance with govt rules – rules that do not apply to market purchased insurance.

        prior to Obamacare – people who bought insurance in the market:

        1. – got no tax credits like those on employer-provided get
        2. – got no protections against denial of pre-existing that EP get.
        3. – did not benefit from paying the same premium everyone did with EP

        Think about what would happen if Employer Provided was exactly the same as what was offered on the open market – no tax breaks, no protection from denial of pre-existing and no community rated pricing.

        Gruber was right. The average person who has employer-provided thinks the folks getting ACA are getting something they don’t deserve that no one else is getting – when the reality is the ACA is basically giving those who don’t have employer-provided – the same benefits that employer-provided provides.

        Even Romney recognized this .. and said that we had to change the way that employer-provided worked – OR make the same benefits available to anyone who bought health insurance.

        that’s the fundamental problem with people who do not need Medicaid.

        and it’s fundamentally the problem with the “gig” economy.

  2. larryg Avatar

    Excellent column and I think Warner is entirely correct about the trend and would be interested in hearing DonB and others take .

    Another name for “contingency worker” might also be “independent contractor”.

    In terms of benefits – 401K/IRA were already moving to portable and away from employer-provided.

    the word is that employer-provided health insurance is also going away de-jure and de-facto as employers are narrowing down to a more specific fee for service model.

    I doubt seriously that most folks could get health insurance on the free market – absent ObamaCare for less or if at all if they have a pre-existing history.

    this is the difference between the US and the other OECD countries. They can and are transitioning to new business and work-place realities without sweat…because the already have “portable” health insurance whereas over here – it’s a virtual death knell for those who are not of good health or older or have a family member with issues.

    in terms of “paternalistic best for me” – if you are really serious then you have to confront the idea of whether or not you are going to pay for people who don’t have insurance and pay for people who did not save for retirement.

    If you’re not going to address – confront – those issues and claim you’re okay with leaving people dying at the entrance to the ER or older people having no income and living like 3rd world folks – then it’s more blather and no substantiative answer.

    I don’t have good thoughts about people with such an attitude but I have even less good thoughts for those who will not be honest enough to say that yes – people should die if they don’t have health insurance and they should freeze to death in an unheated house in the winter if they don’t have retirement income.

    This is a bright line issue for me – not because I think it’s immoral to not pay for them – but because I think it’s hypocrisy to pretend that’s not the outcome if we don’t.

    I do not think we should pay for people who don’t save but my answer is not to stand by and wait and watch them die but instead to require them to save rather than putting me in the position of having to pretend that denying them benefits won’t result in many of their ultimate harm and death.

    every OECD country – in the world – has this approach – and it really does distinguish 1st world from 3rd world countries … so yes. I’m sorry – we’re a 1st world country and I’m not going to pretend that we won’t be 3rd world if we are going to revert to 3rd world standards on health care and pensions.

    people who currently benefit from employer-provided insurance either directly or indirectly are fooling themselves if they think it’s not the govt assuring their benefit – tax breaks along with prohibition of the insurer denying pre-existing. All of that is because of the govt – not the employer.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      I thought SSI was there for those who have no other retirement.

      Government doesn’t give benefits; the market does. My daughter, just one year out of college, was working at a small company in Raleigh. She got a job offer from a bigger company with more pay and considerably more benefits. Neither NC or the USA had anything to do with her getting more benefits. Bigger companies provide better benefits. People who tend to deliver more value also tend to get more compensation, be they computer nerds or plumbers. And don’t forget, government can tax only because society has consented to be taxed. And Virginia is in no position to tax more. McAuliffe is going around the state reminding us Uncle Sam’s cutbacks cost Virginia and Virginians $9.8 billion in revenue. Only Fred Hiatt would see that as a reason to raise taxes. And he works for a company whose advertising revenues continue to shrink.

      I thought Warner’s comments were thoughtful and his humility refreshing.

      1. larryg Avatar

        TMT – if your daughter is getting employer-provided health insurance – she IS getting govt benefits.

        1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

          Larry, your belief assumes money belongs to the government. It doesn’t. It took a constitutional amendment to allow the feds to impose and collect an income tax. Congress doesn’t impose tax on health insurance. Nor does it impose income tax on the value of the Christmas present you receive from a family member. Or the imputed rental value of your home. You get to live in your house rent free while the family down the street rents. Economists can make a reasonable case that the value of living rent free is income.

      2. larryg Avatar

        I think SSI – pays about $733 a month , that’s $8796. Poverty threshold is $11,770.

        I guess there is some way for people to live on that amount but it seems close to impossible without other entitlement help.

  3. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    I am glad you are paying attention to the Gig Economy, in which security is sacrificed for freedom.

    You are wrong to say that politicians should not become involved. We have seen how the private sector has abused, if not raped, young and old workers by denying them benefits and insurance and paying them on the cheap jiust so they can score more profits.

    The Net is largely to blame for this, emerging, at least popularly, out of the Bay Area where everyone was thought of as being egalitarian and fair. Total BS. People who produced content or provided services automatically saw their pay plummet while bosses cut back on benefits.

    Warner is right. If management can get away with screwing new workers, Millennials in particular, who’s going to help them to the emergency room when they don’t have enough revenue to buy insurance (especially if you get your Supreme Court wish.

    At age 62.5, I have gone through both periods — one of the patriarchal corporation that looked after me and treated me well and another of being on my own for years where I have to scamper to pay my bills. True I enjoy the freedom to fire my boss (and have) rather than vice versa but I fret what happens if I get seriously sick or injured.

    Unfortunately, conservatives such as yourself have for years taken the management side and said that workers don’t deserve protection. It’s the market, globalization, whatever. Nice to see you at least considering the issue although I can’t imagine you speed dialing Warner just yet..

  4. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Well, it is often a choice between freedom and security, isn’t it? I’ve been able to choose economic independence now and cut the employee cord because 1) I spent years building up an economic cushion to be ready for this choice and 2) my wife has had the traditional career path, complete with pension and retiree health coverage.

    Warner is a bright guy, always worth listening to. Social Security and Medicare are well adapted for the self-employed (and they ARE mandatory, Larry), there are multiple other choices for retirement saving, and the ACA is an effort to create health insurance options for the self-employed. There may be some other areas where insurance markets need to be improved. If you are self employed you are supposed to take care of these things, but regulatory changes might make disability coverage or income replacement coverage cheaper, for example. You could create private risk pools just like you have with health care, or create tax incentives for participating.

    If that is Warner’s goal, hooray. If his goal is to extend the paternal role of government to all workers, even those who choose to take risks or refuse to save for their own needs, then bah humbug.

    1. NoVaShenandoah Avatar

      It is not a ‘paternal role’ by the government. It is protection for us who cannot afford to hire a government the way the Koch’s or Aldeson’s do.

  5. NoVaShenandoah Avatar

    The freedom/security argument is nonsense. The whole market argument is also nonsense. I recall when I worked for a large company (many moons ago) that had a pension plan. The plan was dropped in favor of a 401K plan, where the company matched contributions 1-for-1. That contribution level lasted for only a few years. Now, you are lucky to find a 50% match, for a relatively minimal portion of your contribution.

    In other words, the employers pulled a fast one on the workers. Moreover, in the consulting industry (where I am now engaged) being an employee applies only for the duration of the contract you are on. In other words, you are really contingent, even as an employee. The title entitles you to some benefits, with none of the business deductions.

    To repeat myself: even for an employee, there is no longer any security, since unions have become almost impotent. There is also no market competition since the employers are very uniform in the lack of benefits. And our benefits, here in the US, lag substantially behind those of almost every other developed country. Which means that improved benefits will not price us out of competition with others. They will simply impact the compensation of ‘upper’ management.

  6. I’ve been employed by big companies, a small company and self-employed. I prefer being employed by big companies and it has nothing to do with benefits. I just feel that I can accomplish more the resources of a big company behind me.

    I think pensions are a disaster. How many times have I heard people tell me that they are hanging onto a job they hate so they can get to “retirement age”? If you are working (company employed or self-employed) and you lack the discipline to save for your own retirement then I guess you’d better get ready to live from the proceeds of Social Security. Anything beyond a relatively minimal stipend isn’t the government’s responsibility nor my employer’s responsibility – it’s my responsibility.

    Health care is a different matter – to an extent. People certainly get sick through no fault of their own. Once sick you should not become effectively uninsurable. Philosophically, I have no issue with Obamacare. Practically, I just don’t trust the government or the politicians. So, I keep wondering which special interest(s) is salting away large stacks of money from the rules and regulations of Obamacare.

    I am not sure why employers pay for any benefits. If you don’t get shut out of health care then why not just pay the employee and let him or her buy whatever level of benefits they want? This would also mean that the income would all be taxed. If the tax rates were lowered to make this revenue neutral I see no issue with that.

    Non-compete agreements should be outlawed (as they are in California). Employment, by its nature, is a coercive relationship. What possible basis does any company have to tell me that I can’t go work for another company?

    Eliminating pensions, company paid benefits and non-compete agreements would make for a more efficient labor market. It would also eliminate the penalty for self-employment.

    The idea of taxing ordinary and investment income at the same rates is intriguing. If I buy a share of Ford Motor Company and sell it two years later for a $10 profit I haven’t added to the money Ford uses to produce cars. That share was owned by one investor, then me, then somebody else when I sold it. Hard to claim I was helping to create jobs with my investment other than in a very abstract way (market liquidity, etc). Why should I pay a lower tax rate on that income then I pay on the money coming through my paycheck? However, I would make an exception for “new capital formation”. If I use my money to start a company and make a profit when I sell the company then I took a risk that directly benefited society.

    1. larryg Avatar

      re: ” The idea of taxing ordinary and investment income at the same rates is intriguing. ”

      then why should wages be taxed either?

  7. Richard Avatar

    It’s an inevitable trend but it means that more and more workers won’t fit within the employer/employee model. Many of our tax and social insurance systems depend upon that model. Tax withholding, social security withholding, workers compensation, unemployment insurance were put in place when most workers worked for their bosses as employees, not as independent contractors.

    The systems that assume an employer/employee model need to be adjusted; however, at least in my home state – North Carolina – those now in charge consider better enforcement to be a restriction on business owners, their primary constituency. Agencies that enforce workers comp, unemployment compensation, and tax collection are gutted.

    You see the same pattern at all levels of government. A reduction in enforcement that results in damages to workers and the public, and enrichment of those business owners who are willing to cheat knowing that “everyone else is doing it” and enforcement is unlikely.

    These systems were put into place for a reason. If you gut them, you need to come up with an alternative.

    1. larryg Avatar

      re: ” Many of our tax and social insurance systems depend upon that model. Tax withholding, social security withholding, workers compensation, unemployment insurance were put in place when most workers worked for their bosses as employees, not as independent contractors.”

      I think Richard is dead on.

      we’re worrying about the loss of manufacturing jobs but that’s just the bow wave.

      When someone comes in to have their taxes done who works as an independent contractor – there usually is no 401k, no employer-provided health insurance, and then they get hit with FICA taxes – their half (not sure who pays the other half but I bet it’s not a good thing for Social Security or Medicare Part A).

      I can also report that a scary number of people who are retired have one source of income – Social Security – and Medicare and that’s it.

  8. larryg Avatar

    re: ” Social Security and Medicare are well adapted for the self-employed (and they ARE mandatory, Larry)”

    yes and no.

    First – Jim was alluding to the fact that he resents the CONCEPT of SS and Medicare and other “the govt knows what’s best – paternalism”.

    I responded by saying that it depends on what you think we should do in response to those who would not or could not get insurance and set aside money for retirement.

    In other words.. someone did not save for retirement and no is going to die in an unheated home unless we pay for heat- is that the choice we want to be presented with or do we insist that when he started – money was set aside so he’d have heat and we would not have to pay for it?

    in terms of Medicare – I have to go over this over and over.

    Medicare Part A – you pre-pay for with FICA taxes.

    Medicare Part B – you do not – and it’s voluntary and if you decide to take it, it will cost you money – and you pay 25% of the cost and the taxpayers pay 75% and you have a 25% co-pay. Unless you have Medicare advantage which taxpayers subsidize at an even higher rate – and has become extremely popular with seniors but it pushes the taxpayer share of the costs even higher that 75%.

    so – to summarize –

    you paid for Medicare Part A
    you did not pay for Part B – it costs you the princely sum of 105.00 a month and it has those dreadful death squads that limit what they will pay for …

    What Is Medicare Part B?
    ” Eligibility for Medicare Part B
    Anyone who is eligible for free Medicare Part A is eligible for Medicare Part B by enrolling and paying a monthly premium. If you are not eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A, you can qualify for Medicare Part B by meeting the following requirements:

    You must be 65 years or older.

    You must be a U.S. citizen, or a permanent resident lawfully residing in the U.S.

    You may also qualify for automatic Medicare Part B enrollment through disability. If you are under 65 and receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) disability benefits, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part and Part B after 24 months of disability benefits. You are also eligible for Medicare Part B enrollment before 65 if you have end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).


    1. Larry said, “Jim was alluding to the fact that he resents the CONCEPT of SS and Medicare and other ‘the govt knows what’s best – paternalism’.”

      Social Security and Medicare are baked into the system. There is no point in wishing them away in exchange for some other institutional arrangement. Now that we have created those programs and everyone has come to depend upon them, we cannot go back.

      I object to creating *new* paternalistic programs that, once they have created dependency, cannot be rolled back.

  9. larryg Avatar

    okay – so do you think health care without ObamaCare is a fair proposition for people who don’t have access to employer-provided?

    or to put this another way – do you think employer-provided is “paternalistic” ?

    I see it as unequal treatment – one set of people who buy health insurance get tax credits and govt-provided protections against denial of coverage – and a second set of people who have to buy their insurance out of pocket – don’t get the tax credits and are not protected against denial of insurance due to pre-existing conditions or charged more that others in the pool for the same coverage.

    I see ObamaCare as covering the second group – to bring them up to parity with the first group rather than expansion of paternalism.

    In other words – whatever “paternalism” there is or is not -make it equal.

  10. larryg Avatar

    I don’t see Social Security and Medicare as “paternalistic”.

    I see the two programs as protection for taxpayers to not have to pay for those who did not – or could not save for retirement – without a mandate that requires setting aside some of their wages.

    It’s sorta like having money taken out of your paycheck before you can spend it.

    we do that so that later on if people didn’t save anything else – they still will not be a financial burden to others.

    and what Medicare does – is not “paternalistic” either. How many seniors would lose all their assets from one major illness in the last years of their lives if not for Medicare?

    we talk about being responsible for ourselves but how many people do you know that set aside 300, 400 thousand dollars in addition to their other savings – especially for potential medical needs as they get older?

    How many folks do you know that had a stroke or needed a bypass or got cancer after age 65 and without Medicare would have ended up on welfare with every last penny of their savings and their home and whatever else they own – gone – or forced into bankruptcy?

    is Medicare “paternalistic”?

    Maybe it is . but how many folks who say they are opposed to paternalistic govt – would agree that Medicare is a failure and should be repealed?

    Just had a family member who did quite well when he worked – better than most of us – felled by a stroke, several weeks in intensive care then 100 days in a rehab facility at 300.00 a day. A good portion of his ample savings would have been gone if not for Medicare but even Medicare does not pay for everything – especially after 100 days… He had the foresight to have bought long term care insurance that pays 100.00 a day of “covered” and he picks up everything over that.

    How many actually folks buy long-term care insurance? Is it irresponsible to not buy it?

    what happens to those who get sick for more than 100 days and don’t have it?

    well it gets pretty tough.. you have to clean out your savings or get a reverse mortgage on your home – or go hat-in-hand to the govt to get MedicAid.

    some folks reading this – have been through this – others not – yet..

    now the really bad news – Medicare – as we know it – is not sustainable ..unless major changes are made – including re-examining that 100 day coverage.

    remember also – what I’m talking about is Medicare Part B -not Part A.

    Part A covers hospitals. Part B cover non-hospital providers and right now we’re selling it for 105.00 a month to people who make 85K a year in retirement income. that has to change.

    so basically – the anti-entitlement, anti-paternalistic govt folks are talking a big talk but most folks that are not in the 2% face serious financial challenges when they get older and sicker. it’s a reality that we’ve avoided confronting.

  11. larryg Avatar

    here’s the horrible stats:

    ” 70% of those who reach 65 will need long-term care.”

    10% of those 65 and older have long term care insurance

    In Virginia – we would not expand MedicAid to people who work

    but we use MedicAid for the elderly to help them keep their homes.

    The people who work who are denied MedicAid- are paying taxes to fund Medicare and MedicAid.

    this is not so much about govt paternalism as it is about inequitable treatment …

    my view – all due respect.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Larry, it’s my understanding that there are limits on a person’s assets and income that apply to applications for Medicaid for nursing homes. Also, there is a five-year claw back on transfers and gifts. So a person cannot give away her/his assets within the five year period before they need nursing home coverage. The retitling of the family home doesn’t work. Setting up a trust doesn’t work. I think there are also special rules for a situation where one spouse needs nursing home care and the other doesn’t, such that the non-need spouse need not become impoverished for the needing spouse to qualify.

      I also understand that a person can use assets to pay for nursing home care and, when those assets are below the cap, qualify for Medicaid. I believe there are also reporting requirements and an obligation to renew qualification annually. I don’t think its easy to qualify for Medicaid coverage for nursing home care unless you are relatively poor.

      I don’t think it was as tough in the past, but there has been considerable tightening as it should. I guess you could still give away your assets or retitle your home more than five years before the nursing home need occurs. But I can also see there could be tax problems or even fraud if a transfer of assets is not bona fide.

      1. larryg Avatar

        It’s true there is a 5yr clawback but it’s also true there is a cottage industry in estate “planning” to deal with that

        I can tell you what DOES work and that is to prohibit the practice all together as other states have done.

        my intent here is to not advocate that we harm people. It’s the opposite – to point out that at the same time we are arguing about the correctness of helping people with health insurance who supposedly “don’t deserve it” that we have these other policies to help people who somehow we have decided, DO deserve it .

        I just think we have a myopic double standard where we judge who “deserves” govt help – differently – even to the point of calling those who use Medicaid for health care – “parasites” while looking the other way for similar govt help for others to essentially preserve their substantial assets that those who get Medicaid for health care – don’t even have, probably never will.

        1. Cville Resident Avatar
          Cville Resident

          This (long term care) is the biggest public policy issue of our time. It would be interesting to see a Bacon’s Rebellion “symposium” on it.

          Problem is: there is no “private solution” to it. Insurers (see: Genworth) are figuring out that basically the top 1 or 2% can afford long-term care insurance with the proper premiums. It’s a loser for private insurance companies.

          As people live longer…you are correct….more and more people are using the Medicaid/nursing home route. Some are using “estate planning”, but other middle class/upper middle class folks are simply running out of money. Nursing home costs are simply unaffordable.

          But no one is really talking about this. Alas….

  12. Darrell Avatar

    Wow, this is some pretty high brow stuff you guys are discussing.

    I read some stories about the gig economy once. I can’t remember exactly but I think they were written by some guy called L’Amour, or something like that.

    They were pretty exciting stories. I was very impressed at the time with the idea of being a drifter employee moving from job to job, living free with only the good graces of my wits to keep the game going. But then reality would come crashing in with the sound of an airplane landing on the flight deck above my head. So I would go back to work.

    I only thought of this because I was recently reading about the new drifters working the North Dakota fracking fields, and happened on an internet story about Custer’s Last Stand.

    This story had little to do with Custer but more to do with a riverboat captain and three gig workers from Bozeman, Montana.

    See, the riverboat was contracted by the Army to carry Custer’s General and his supplies to the Little Big Horn battle field. The boat captain got there a little late. His job done, the captain was kicking back fishing when the three gig workers showed up. They were gigged to haul a wagon load of gold from Bozeman to Bismark, North Dakota. (An early iteration of the independent cross country semi-truck drivers of the 1980’s, I suppose.)

    Because of the ongoing political differences between the Sioux Nation and the federal government, the gig workers decided they should contract with the boat captain to deliver the gold. They then turned around and later that day became three more trespassers lying dead on the Bozeman Trail.

    The next day the General returned from the battlefield with the wounded remnants of the 7th Cavalry. He on loaded the survivors and ordered the boat captain to make the fastest trip possible 700+ miles back to Bismark. In order to lighten the boat to safely navigate downriver rapids, the boat captain dumped 1500 pounds of gold somewhere along the Big Horn river.

    The moral of this story is that a gig work economy is like panning for gold. A few will get rich but the majority will be economic collateral damage. The only question you need to consider now is how much you really want to ditch everything and head up to the Big Horn river to find that now $20 million dollars in gold? Would you jump at a gig of such historic significance? Just be careful. The Indians still own the land in that area.

    You might become the next victim lying by the Bozeman Trail.

  13. larryg Avatar

    I think the advent of the “gig” economy is as fundamental a shift as the industrial revolution or the advent of computers, cell phones, drones, etc and will forever change the way we think about productivity as well as the role of other institutions – govt and non-govt in the whole world of commerce.

    The thing is – this has been already going on for a while as we are seeing more and more business models like franchises and independent contractors.

    Think of an auto repair place. it’s been a “gig” economy for a while as each repair technician often brings their own tools much like a barber or hair dresser might and essentially rent facilities in which to conduct their contracting business.

    When you buy a replacement windshield from Safelite these days – you are hiring an independent contractor who is in partnership with a franchise operations.

    The same thing for home health care workers – one of the biggest burgeoning industries.. these days.

    without going on and on – this is why K-12 education is so important -.. it’s the core education anyone needs to become a employable worker. No more is there a manufacturing plant that will take you with a high school education and train you – and take care of you for a career. It’s also going to be the end of employer-provided health insurance as people are going to have to seek portable pensions and portable health insurance.

Leave a Reply