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The desperate hustle as a way of life (citypaper.com)
177 points by timr 1244 days ago | hide | past | web | 108 comments | favorite



The argument has an emotional resonance, but does it really make sense? It's not like working for big employers (and entrusting Wall Street with one's retirement) worked out really well in the past decade either.

Every company is out there "hustling", as they compete with one another. So is it so much better to delegate the hustling aspect of life to one's CEO? Or are we all just turning over power and rewards to those people, in exchange for a quieter life?

It does get at the question - what are companies even for? According to free market theories, we should all be selling our labor freelance. The standard answer for a long while was that transaction costs would be too high. So possibly AirBnB and Uber are solving that, and more of us can jettison the dead weight of having bosses who specialize in hustling.

The only problem is that they are completely artificial "markets", and they're taking a tremendous percentage. You're not hustling on the free market, you're hustling on the totally-controlled-by-AirBnB market. And the company has no long-term responsibility to any individual operator, and there's probably never going to be anything like an AirBnB hosts' union. Right now, the sharing economy companies will try hard to make life good for the sharers, but they may not always be so aligned.


According to free market theories, we should all be selling our labor freelance.

This is incorrect. If the disutility to an employer of absorbing short term risk is lower than the disutility to the employee, it makes perfect sense. And similarly, if an employer has a comparative advantage over the employee for hustling, specialization makes sense.

There are also large tax incentives (most notably relating to medical spending) for full time employment.

"Free market theories" don't generally oppose risk mitigation strategies, specialization or exploiting economies of scale.


In more general terms employment is an agreement between employer and employee. If you're willing to give your employer a better price for your labor in return for some measure of security you'll probably find an employer with whom you can come to some arrangement, assuming there's any demand at all for your skill.

Where I work we have a ridiculously complicated project with crazy business rules and hundreds of thousands of C++ lines written over twenty years. It takes an entire year for someone to become productive. My employer pays people on that project very well and tries to keep them happy so they won't leave and take that year of training out the door.


Is that year of training worth anything once you walk out the door ?


No, it isn't. But it represents sunk costs to my employer.


Those are good points. I should have clarified, I meant a naive interpretation of free market theory.

I'm only a dabbler when it comes to economics, but I think the field of the "theory of the firm" is interesting. And one of their primary topics the question of why all labor isn't sold on a free market.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_the_firm


The Theory of the Firm is an interesting and foundational one, but we should be careful to define "free market" in this context. A labor market still exists inside, outside, and between firms. Firms are simply organizing small aspects or chunks of it. They are both part of, and subject to, the broader labor market.

ToTF is actually a very interesting framework through which to evaluate the "Sharing Economy." It suggests that transaction costs for certain goods and types of labor have been lowered to the point where freelancing / ad hoc exchange makes sense. But there is still an organizing force underlying these pockets of the market. Lyft and Uber haven't eliminated the previously existing firms in the taxi marketplace. They've organized the market more effectively, and in some cases, they've lowered transaction costs for the marginal labor supply who otherwise would not have entered the market. They have also increased and aggregated demand, further incentivizing latent supply to come online. The story of Lyft and Uber is largely a story about how technology made inefficient markets a lot more efficient.

I'm not sure I see the connection between these companies and the plight of the middle class in America. That's where the author of this piece loses me. It's almost as if he's covering two interesting, but tenuously related topics in the same piece. The "hustling" imperative is an interesting one, however, and he's on to something with that.


moreover comparing the "hustling" in Lyft to the traditional "hustling" of taxis makes it seem like a vastly superior improvement (instead of comparing the "hustling" in lyft to the 40-year-secure jobs that americans of the 50s had).

The 'hustling' imperative comes about from inflationary economics. While we had inflation in the past, the general security of previous generations was financed through debt expansion. As the total amount of debt is maximizing the social capacity for trust, we can no longer finance the security of contemporary generations. Ironically, 'taking care of' previous generations came at the cost of stealing it from present generations.

Not to worry, Europe will be seeing this sooner or later (probably not the Nordic countries, as they have low headline inflation rates).


But what exactly is the difference between a freelance contract and an employee contract? You can work freelance for a company for several years? Aren't all the employee benefits just negotiable things that a freelancer could negotiate as well? I think in that wider sense everybody is a freelancer. Everybody has to decide for themselves what job to take on, and what compensation they get. Job security is also something that has a certain value.

You can maybe argue that some people are completely unable to make those decisions and society should just make the decisions for them ("you are going to be a plumber" and so on...). That line of thought quickly leads into weird philosophical territory, though (freedom, free will,...).


Traditional employers have multiple management levels specialized in hustling which must be paid, most of them members of the middle class, who consume services and participate in the economy, creating demand and jobs. Their hustling is much less brutal because they need to maintain a personal relationship with the underlings and must strictly adhere to the law, else their team leader job is on the line.

"Innovative" businesses on the other hand have very low costs because they employ maybe a few hundred highly specialized people like programmers, marketers etc. They can engage in cutthroat competition and there is a massive polarization between the lumpen underlings and the owners. I think the Amway parallel is spot-on.

In theory it will reduce prices of taxis, hotels, etc. making them affordable to more people, thus create wealth. In practice it will destroy jobs and most of that wealth will be transferred to the capitalists.


Interesting. You seem to be defending inefficient bureaucracies (middle management etc) because you believe they promote more-human personal interactions. I've never really heard the corporate jungle described with such warm and fluffy sentiment.

I think it's tendentious nonsense, or anecdotal at best (did you just have a miserable experience at a start-up?), but rather than bickering about that per se, I'd prefer to offer a more important principle:

You cannot make an economy more prosperous by making things less efficient and spending more money on unneeded middle management.


You are confusing efficiency with distribution. It's clear that new firms are more efficient, but the median prosperity (your word) is also related to the way income is distributed. If a technical advancement increases efficiency by 5% but drastically changes distribution so that owners make 10x more than they use to, the average person loses.

Traditionally such advances could not stand for very long because competition would creep up and eat away at the innovators' margins, redistributing the gains to the wider public via lower prices. In the walled garden of highly monopolistic internet businesses powered by strong network effects, they seem to stand.

The line about startup employees does not even make sense, the individual contributors used by the likes of AirBnB are not employed in any traditional sense, nor are they entrepreneurs. The folks in Silicon Valley are doing great but the effects of what they are led to create has society-wide implications that you don't seem to grasp.


Not everybody should be selling his labor freelance. There are various economic explanations as to why people work on a non-freelance basis in free markets.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_the_firm


But that's the point. Coase says that transaction costs create the need for firms, because they make it more expensive to engage contractors for every job. You reduce transaction costs, and you consequently lessen the need for firms in certain areas.


Lessen, but not eliminate. Even the best approaches currently imaginable for hiring freelancers have rather hefty transaction costs - in the economic sense, not as fees.

Finding, validating and qualifying a good freelancer is a serious transaction cost; Risk of poor delivery for the buyer and risk of nonpayment/partial payment for the worker is higher than in the employment scenario; those risks are serious transaction costs.

As you say, it can lessen the need for firms (more exactly, make the optimal firm size smaller) - but as the parent states, it can't eliminate the need for firms, there will remain an area where firm-like cooperation is optimal, better than freelancing.


>The argument has an emotional resonance, but does it really make sense? It's not like working for big employers (and entrusting Wall Street with one's retirement) worked out really well in the past decade either.

No, but it worked very well the last time the US middle class mattered, back in the 40's to 60's.


Note that the relationship at the time was between firms and Wall Street brokers and traders mediated via pensions, rather than individuals. Firms and unions will have more leverage.

The present personal investment model (401k and similar) will, I suspect, be seen as one of the larger financial mis-steps of 20th century economic history. Its emergence itself was largely accidental.


The free market is a bunch of fucking horseshit. So there's that.

Maybe try re-examining the assumption the "most efficient" way of distributing resources is better than finding a more equitable and globally beneficial distribution of resources.


You probably think you're getting downvoted because people disagree with you, but it's actually because your comment amounts to the cliché "wake up sheeple".

(edit: sorry, I shouldn't tell you what you 'probably think'. Bad phrasing.)


My definition of sharing does not involve any exchange of money.


When people on HN stop using the fallacy of "Appeal to the Free Market", I'll give a shit about making cogent arguments.


FWIW: I studied economics. I have a degree in the subject. I've continued my education since.

I agree largely (though not wholly -- truth is a bit more nuanced) with your sentiment.

If you want to make the case, though, pointing to references for others to look at tends to be more persuasive.

You'll actually find a lot of support within the field of economics itself, though much as well outside of it -- sociology, anthropology, physics, chemistry, and ecology all come to mind. There've been articles noting the crisis within economics over the past decade in such left-wing pinko rags as The Economist, Financial Times, and Forbes, as well as the more plausible sources such as The New York Times and The Guardian.

Thomas Piketty's recent book Capital in the 21st Century (you've probably heard of it) addresses much of this. Hell, you'll find a lot of similar sentiment within Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, which, I can pretty much promise you, isn't the unalloyed defense of laissez-faire, non-interventionist, anti-statist doctrine many people would like you to believe (and likely believe themselves). David Brin's been on a kick to get people to read, really read, Smith, and I have to agree.

Even with persuasive argument you'll get a lot of hostility, but you'll also tend to convince a few people if you line your evidence up.


This is a really interesting perspective thanks for sharing. I don't think anyone intended to create this shadow economy. The founders of AirBnB, TaskRabbit, Lyft, and the like did not create those services with the intention that people hustle full-time. More that it was a stopover to get some cash in an economy where you might need it and a place where cost of living is high. But I very much agree that this piece demonstrates perverse incentives. As someone else posted on here, it's not right if people hustle to the extent of crashing with their friend's parent's cousins every day just so they can list their places on AirBnB.

The other point though, is that I don't think we'll have decades of hustle anyways, because the point of many of these services is to catalyze a culture of sharing that we've lost. Once we gain it back, then Lyft, Uber, and the like (as one example) can shift from drivers that drive around looking for rides (which is hardly sharing so much as a homegrown taxi), into truly picking up people when convenient for their usual routes. Of course, this depends on these organizations not being swayed by perverse incentives themselves.

We'll see!


One thought that occurred to me while reading this was the similarity to how tuition increases by however much the government provides in subsidies.

Perhaps the reason we'll all need to "hustle as a way of life" is because by making it easy enough for everyone to do, everyone's earning potential is increased, and our entire earning potential gets soaked up by higher rents and other limited-quantity commodities we all compete for.


Similar to how once you started having both parents working you quickly needed to have both parents working.


how tuition increases by however much the government provides in subsidies.

Problem with that theory is that much of the increase on college tuitions and fees has come about as the government has withdrawn subsidies (though it's continued guaranteeing loans, and more recently, making them non-dischargable).

Counterfactual argument is counterfactual.


I believe that is what inflation means.


Money is a leaky abstraction. What epicureanideal was really saying is that everyone's potential to create things or services of value to other people increase. Assuming people act on this potential and the monetary base stays constant we will get deflation. Of course, Uber and AirBnB are partly replacing taxi rides and hotel rooms - the total amount of rides and rooms for hire will stay more or less constant. So deflation for that reason is unlikely. It's not about the value of money overall.

But what are taxi drivers or hotel staff going to do? They can lower their prices (and thereby limit Uber/ArBnB) or they can do something else. Probably something less enjoyable and/or lower paying, or they would already be doing it. So money moves from professionals to hobbyists and the firms that organize the hobbyist movements. But who are the hobbyists really? Not millionaires, I would bet. The Uber drivers may be hotel staff and the AirBnB hoteliers may be taxi drivers. People who need money, in other words. So lower-class services get less expensive, low-class people get less purchasing potential and the potential go to the middle-upper class people at Uber/AirBnB directly, and to other trades not suited for hobbyisation indirectly.

It doesn't look very good.


> They can lower their prices (and thereby limit Uber/ArBnB) or they can do something else. Probably something less enjoyable and/or lower paying, or they would already be doing it.

I'm not really sure that the money-flow works the way you think it does. When I stayed in London last week at AirBnB instead of the hotel which was literally next door, the savings wasn't just hotel labor (which I mostly didn't need). It also meant money that could have gone to the hotel owners (capitalists with multi-million pound investments) instead went to a family which was spending time abroad on a cycle-tour through Germany.


> It also meant money that could have gone to the hotel owners (capitalists with multi-million pound investments) instead went to a family which was spending time abroad on a cycle-tour through Germany.

The money you would have paid to a hotel would have been split between the employees and the owners. For your Airbnb stay, a 6-12% guest service fee [0] and a 3% host service fee [1] was paid to Airbnb, who are analogous to the owners in the hotel situation.

You are perfectly right that you made savings by not paying for services you didn't want, but the "sharing" model hasn't eliminated the role of the capitalist class, which is implied by your post.

To take a much broader view, although our global production capacity has increased markedly, so has our consumption, which ultimately causes prices of these goods to remain relatively high to people on locally average incomes. One might hypothecate that we could maintain our higher production with a significantly smaller global population (and correspondingly lower consumption), which would make real inroads into lowering prices for common goods, but I really have no idea as to whether or not that is true.

[0] https://www.airbnb.co.uk/help/question/104 [1] https://www.airbnb.co.uk/help/question/63


Not mostly. Inflation is the rise in price of all goods, because there is (physically or effectively - see Velocity Of Money) more money in circulation. In this case, "increasing our earnings potential" means making people better at making stuff, and that stuff should see a fall in prices, with rises restricted to things we can't effectively (for whatever reason) make more of.


> the point of many of these services is to catalyze a culture of sharing that we've lost. Once we gain it back, then Lyft, Uber, and the like (as one example) can shift from drivers that drive around looking for rides (which is hardly sharing so much as a homegrown taxi), into truly picking up people when convenient for their usual routes

You say this as if it would be a step forward instead of a huge step back. The whole idea of a market economy is that you can trade what you have for what you want, even if the person who has what you want doesn't want what you have. Money is used to facilitate this kind of indirect trade. This system is superior to the system you advocate, wherein, if I have ten pounds of corn and want a painting, I need to find a painter who wants corn.

If the only place Lyft will take me is the football stadium, Lyft isn't a useful app, or a useful anything else. I won't bother to use it even on the rare occasion when the football stadium is where I want to go. The point of a transportation service is that it takes me where I want to go, not that it takes me to a random location depending on which driver I happened to contact, and not that if I want to go someplace out-of-the-way I need to wait for possibly a period of months.


I don't think the GP advocates a barter economy, rather he defines what sharing really is. If 50.000 people go to the stadium, there's a large chance close neighbors go there so there's no point using four cars when they can use a single one. No economic product is generated but our lives are suddenly better, less congestion, less resources wasted, etc. So the sharing platforms should find these synergies, when they exist, and you should purchase a transportation service otherwise.

What they actually end-up doing is competing the incumbent services in a fly bellow the radar illegal operation which actually makes the taxi drivers themselves poorer while diverting most of the extra cash to the ring masters.


Cornoholio has captured my meaning well. Though to be fair, I do partially think that a barter economy in some cases could e better option. To tsotha's point then, I think this is especially true because of the technology that we have.

In the original barter economies, it was difficult to find someone who had something you want in exchange for something you had, but now there are much more efficient ways to streamline that search process.

As to the potential value, to tsotha's question, this is very philosophical. Some will see it as valuable, others will be terrified. For me personally, I like not being too abstracted away from what I'm producing or consuming.

Gambling uses chips because chips are easier to give away than money. Using that logic, at least for me, giving away money is easier than trading something, especially if that something I have created and poured my energy into. The transaction without money then forces me to think about true utility and value, and would greatly discourage conspicuous and contrived consumption.


>This system is superior to the system you advocate, wherein, if I have ten pounds of corn and want a painting, I need to find a painter who wants corn.

That's a good point. The question is how likely it is for new technology to connect you and the painter such that you don't need money.

The question I have is what's the utility of avoiding money beyond tax dodging?


I realised that AirBnB and its ilk had reached the mainstream when I saw an article in my wife's copy of Woman's Weekly, a UK mag targeting middle-aged and older demographic.

Alongside recipe for strawberry flan and knitting patterns: how to use AirBnB to make supplementary income or find a companion.



i don't think we'll have decades of cars being driven by people. will people who hustle on lyft/uber now own any share of the autonomobile industry?


Supposing we have robot cars in a few decades, it wouldn't be unimaginable to think of a family getting a robot car for their own routine use on a commute, then hooking it up to the new Uber-R robo-car pickup network with a snazzy piece of software. Then it could be used on the network while the family is away on vacations, or asleep at night, or whatever.


Why not send the car ahead when you are on vacation, so you can use it in Florida when you get there?


Why send a car ahead (wasting lots of energy on moving it) when simply getting an identical one when getting out of the plane should be much cheaper?

I mean, you pay $X for getting that car, and you get $X minus a fee percentage for your own car that gets rented for the same time. And you can get a much different kind (or number) of vehicles than you have at home, which would suit the vacation needs.


Eh. I was thinking Europe.


Smart robo-car can catch a ferry!


I don't think anyone intended to create this shadow economy.

That's one of the conclusions I'm reaching about the economic system in general: much of it isn't so much planned as it just happened (though there have most definitely been very long-lived efforts to influence both how people think about the system and how it functions -- going back to Smith and before).

But I also feel that much of what "just happened" is also less than beneficial through both perverse incentives and externalities.

Your "truly picking up people when convenient for their usual routes" existed for a time in the form of hitchhiking, and survives today in limited forms such as casual carpool arrangements.


Yes I completely agree with you! We plant the seeds of systems, be it legal, educational, political, economic, etc., and then they evolve, grow, and spiral (fueled by their own momentum and interesting side effects) to a state where we often lose control of the system completely, and then have to submit to it, instead of the other way around.


You might enjoy some of Kim Stanley Robinson's talks on YouTube and elsewhere. One point he brings up is the idea that as human systems evolve, they tend to have the elements of the precursor, present, and successor systems in them. So presently, capitalism has elements of its precursor, feudalism, and whatever its successor will be.

I've collected some of the videos here: http://www.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/23rbpb/video_ro...

The bit on successor systems is in the 3rd KSR video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqSrMSbqXfk

More here: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/04/in-...

With capitalism, we can say that it has very strong residual elements of feudalism. It's as if feudalism liquefied and the basis of power moved from land to money, but with the injustice of the huge hierarchical feudal differences between rich and poor still intact. What is emergent in capitalism is harder to identify, but there may be something to the idea of the global village, also the education of the entire world population, so that everyone knows the world situation and wants justice, that may be leading the way to a more just global society. Seeing and exaggerating these emergent elements is something utopian science fiction tries to do. So the dichotomy is a sort of x/y graph in a thought experiment.


AirBnB, Lyft, etc certainly take advantage of the underemployment boom -- but did they cause it? It seems unfair to blame two relatively small companies for the result of multiple regulatory failures across multiple industries, especially considering that neither existed in its current form when the crash happened.


I don't think the article is blaming these companies for the current employment situation. It highlights that these business models are deemed clever and entrepreneurial while in fact supporting a wage model whereby everybody is responsible for the hustle, working on commission... employment as a service if you will. This in of itself isn't bad, but the article makes the point that this approach leads to an employment where nobody can just work for a fair wage, everybody is hustling. I thought it was a very thoughtful and interesting piece that revealed one of the long term consequence of something that everybody seems to be celebrating, this 'liberation' of service (and employment).


Hustling has been the ONLY way of life until very recently, perhaps the past few hundred years. This is really only since yesterday as far as the history of humanity is concerned. Things could be better in the U.S. for the middle class but we are still wealthy as far as most of the planet's population is concerned. I'm sorry I have no sympathy for the author's chief complaint. You can still find a nice quiet well paying job at a place like Exxon or Goodyear where you can in fact work until retirement. You could also choose to live in a place that isn't so expensive that the only way to survive is to hustle. Then you could save a little money, purchase some income producing assets, and become a capitalist yourself.

Given all that, some of us do enjoy the hustle. For us, the only true safety is that which we provide for ourselves through the hustle.


The hustle isn’t anything new; anyone who’s lived in what’s termed the inner-city knows about people selling bootleg CDs and DVDs on the street and people offering rides for money--they’re called 'gypsy cabs' in Boston. Most of the people who participate in this underground economy are desperate to keep a roof over their heads and to know they’ll have a next meal.

The author is pointing out that companies like AirBnB ($776.40 million in funding: http://www.crunchbase.com/organization/airbnb) and Lyft ($332.50 million in funding: http://www.crunchbase.com/organization/lyft) are monetizing this desperation and asking: are we as a society okay with this?

When you take this point of view, you can kind of see why they (the companies and investors) use the warm and fuzzy term ‘the sharing economy’, which puts a nice spin on it. Sharing is good, right?

It’s a slippery slope issue too: what else will get monetized in the name of the sharing economy? People often share prescription drugs with each other now; you could totally see an app that lets you see everyone around you who’s willing to share their Prozac or whatever.


I think the concern is not that hustling-based work exists, but that other types of work will increasingly struggle to compete with it. It's true that a stable middle class with a high standard of living is a recent innovation, but that's no argument for letting it slip away. It was a good innovation, and it makes sense for people to fight to hang onto that way of life.


Hustling has been the ONLY way of life until very recently, perhaps the past few hundred years.

Except, for example, for the several centuries of the feudal system in Europe, in which most of the population existed as agricultural serfs with no hustle involved. Other parts of the world have similar, non-hustling histories.

I suppose what I'm saying is that the statement I quoted simply isn't true.


Now, I drive for lyft (full-time) while I'm waiting for the IRS to approve my nonprofit's 501(c)3 status. It pays better than being a postdoc (about 20% better, also I had the 'foresight' to buy a hybrid car back in 2010). That says something about how the academic science industry has been captured to the point where labor costs are depressed to where it's better for me to have a job that doesn't require my PhD. The article writer should keep in mind that the leaders of academia are very much neoliberals often claiming to try to emulate the "profit-free" incentive structure "of europe" - and they're doing way, way worse than corporate america.

Back to Lyft: Some of my 'coworkers' can't even do math (I met up with one to try to help him figure out the tax situation, deep down it was painful for me to see the blank stares he gave me when I tried to show him how to convert miles per gallon to dollars per mile). But he's making by, and probably better than he would be without Lyft.

The author writes, "think for just a minute about what this means for the prospect of honest work". I don't know what his definition of honest work is, but to me it's this: Provide a service or good to someone that wants it. Go back and watch "school ties", where the dad tells his son about the scrappers picking valuables out of the dump, that at least that's "honest work". Lyft is "honest work". When I'm out there, I'm giving someone something they want, at a fair price, and having a social byproduct of keeping drunk people off the streets and giving vulnerable people a way to get home without worrying about getting stiffed for money, groped by an unscrupulous driver, or harrassed for being gay.

The kicker? I can't say that anything I did in my last postdoc has any real social or individual value that compares. Yeah, there was a 401k plan and healthcare coverage, and all the trappings of a 'real job' except poor compensation. But it wasn't honest work.


I don't see a future for Lyft and things like that. I don't see how semi-private people are supposed to manage their cars and apartments more efficiently than professionals. So if anything, those services will be transitional (until nobody owns their own car anymore).

That said, I really don't agree with the sense of entitlement from that post. The real world actually is tough. Just because we managed at times to build a small layer of security on top of it, doesn't mean everybody is entitled to it.

I don't think there is a conspiracy to deprive people of their job security, it is just a developing reality. And quite frankly, I think everybody should take responsibility for their own life. People might actually be better off if they do that.


This doesn't make sense. What you're saying is that the world is a shitty place, for a while it was less shitty and now it's going to shit again.

We've never been more technologically sophisticated. It's never been cheaper to stay alive. It's never been easier to produce cheap, valuable goods to ensure that people can have a good life.

It's not about job security, it's about making sure that everyone can afford a bare minimum of dignity and living standard. If you read between the lines, the author of this story calls for sensible regulation to ensure that this continues to be the case, and that regular people aren't exploited for economic gain. While this might be a controversial topic in some circles, I don't think your average middle-class family would object.

It is obvious that the continued technological developments, including automation, will cause an amount of pain and strife. This is why we should meet these problems head-on. Increased automation should mean more wealth and a better life for everyone. The status quo, at least in the US, has meant a poorer median and vastly increased wealth differences between the top and the median. The latter of these points is not in itself a problem, but the first is. That's where the problem lies.


If the means are there to make life nice for everyone, I am all for it. However, I am not convinced it is actually the case. If we had some good years, it might also just have been luck: for example using up oil, which is like a lottery win for society (free energy, but limited), or exploiting people in other countries (cheap washing machines and clothes).

Do you think there is actually no risk in our modern world? Otherwise, why should some people (company owners) be forced to shoulder the risk for other people?

If there ever was a period where life was easy for everyone, how long did it actually last? WW2 ended 1945. I think it must have been between then and now. In between there was the Vietnam war, cold war, various economic crises, and so on. Maybe that classic "be a factory worker with lots of benefits and pay for your family and home" only ever lasted a couple of years? I guess it is mostly known from movies from the 50ies?

I am not actually as hardcore as it sounds. I think people should look out for each other, and society should strive to make everybody have a good life. I'm just not convinced that employee entitlement is the correct way to go about it.

Note that job security is also something society pays a price for (it's factored into the prices of products - if a company has to stick to brewing horses and musn't switch to car manufacturing, because they employ a lot of horse breeders, society pays by having to do with less efficiency). As a freelancer, I don't understand why I should pay for somebody else's job security?


As a freelancer, you're not paying for someone else's job security, you are actually _benefitting_ from it. Job security (and employment benefits in general) are huge mitigating factors against the stress of the modern worker's life, it's what allows them to function at a good level which sustains the company that's hiring you as a freelancer to begin with.

Staying at the top of Maslow's pyramid of needs is much more fundamental for a productive, healthy society to exist than the purported efficiency you think you would achieve by taking people's job security away.

That we're talking of a 'desperate hustle' to survive is indeed very bad news of our society in this context. If all people can think of is of ways of scraping by to survive, and do that 24/7, they don't have time to create, innovate, research and do actual good, meaningful things. And yet, that's where we're inevitably headed.

In the modern era, workers have been facing a steadily increasing amount of stress and pressure due to the ever-accelerating pace of change in our society. With every passing decade, more and more we've found that we have to be on the edge, or else who knows if our job will be automated away or outsourced to another country to never come back.

This is _why_ the 'desperate hustle' has come about. Today, workers know they can't cut it, they can't keep up, they just take it all in bravely -the pay cuts, the longer work hours, the loss of security and benefits, all hardships which had supposedly been left behind. We have come full circle, and it's not a good place to be.


So you think life would be better if there was less change? For example if we hadn't changed from horses to cars? I think people change their ways of living because the new ways are more efficient or convenient. Why would they change to a worse state.

I think you are wrong when you claim that I don't pay for other people's job security. That job security is costing companies money (for example because they can't fire people they don't need anymore), and that cost is factored into their products.

I didn't mean freelancers specifically pay for that, society in general does. But employees get the job security in return - freelancers don't get anything in return. You make the argument about stability of companies - OK, maybe that is a factor, but I would like to see some research that shows it is significant.


Another question: if only job security enables workers to function, how to the freelancers do it? I don't think your argument holds much water.


Of course there isn't a future for Lyft - driving will be automated.


Another similarly-bleak take on the 'sharing' economy:

http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2013/04/03/the-locust-economy/

(Forwarded as an interesting set of thoughts, not endorsement.)


It's fine to want to earn more money as long as you don't do this by taking away other people's freedoms. No one has the right to use force on others for their own ends. No one has the right to take away other people's right to contract in order to maintain an above-market price. So for example: the minimum wage takes away the rights of employers and would-be employees to contract at low wages in order to allow some workers to charge above-market wages. Taxi medallions take away the rights of passengers and drivers to contract for cheap fares in order to allow taxi companies to charge above-market fares. Not only are such laws economically wasteful, but they are immoral in the same sense that slavery is immoral: they take away one's freedom to contract.


Are you also against big government taking away our freedom to keep the entire proceeds of those contracts, in the form of taxes, which it then redistributes to the poor?

You know, so that despite having a job paying $0.50/hr, people can still afford to buy enough food to eat for themselves, and so they can afford to live somewhere heated in the winter?

Or are you fully behind an individual's right to die of starvation and/or hypothermia, because if they really cared about living, they'd... uh... ummm... shit - what is it they'd do again?

Out of curiosity, are you and 99% of the people you know relatively well off, and not in forseeable danger of running out of food or warmth any time in the next decade or so? Do you, as the saying goes, got yours?

I got mine, but I am somewhat concerned about the other people in my community who don't. I don't want to step over their bodies, rather, I'd like to help them get out of the pit they're in - however they got there. Be that being born into poverty, or falling into a career 20 years ago which has since been automated away, or through illness, or just bad bloody luck. So I'll give to charity and food banks, but I'd rather that people could get jobs which pay well enough that they don't need to use 'em.

As for the people that got theirs but are content to say "fuck you Jack" to those that don't, they're not the kind of people I want to share my community, or country, with.

With thanks to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bf013ID8lCE


> I am somewhat concerned about the other people in my community who don't [have theirs].

If you're concerned about people in your community who are poor, why do you oppose letting them make employment contracts which will make them better off? The minimum wage makes it illegal for them to contract for jobs that they are actually qualified for, i.e., very low-paying jobs.

Very low-paying jobs are for employment what remedial courses are for college education. Eliminating remedial courses in college which would mean that people with very low levels of education could not get started with college. The minimum wage, by eliminating low-paying jobs, prevents low-skilled people from getting started with employment.

> As for the people that got theirs but are content to say "fuck you Jack" to those that don't, they're not the kind of people I want to share my community, or country, with.

Not only are you against allowing people to contract, you also want to deport people who exercise their right to speak. This is not a cheap shot. When you are willing to violate a basic human right like the freedom to contract, you're likely morally blind enough to be willing to violate other human rights.

The choice of violating the right to contract and trade or letting someone starve is a false one. In fact, a major cause (though not the only cause) of poverty is restrictions on contracts and trade, mostly by governments. There are examples of this everywhere. The article mentioned taxis. Driving a car safely is a basic skill that many otherwise unskilled people can do. Taxis should be very cheap, plentiful, and temporary job for people who need something to do while they work on doing something more useful. Instead, government restricts the supply of taxis making taxis expensive and relatively scarce. This hurts people who need transportation, it hurts people who would like to provide transportation but cannot, and it hurts people who could be doing something more useful for society but don't because they are earning more than they should as taxi drivers.


"why do you oppose letting them make employment contracts which will make them better off?"

I would argue that those contracts do not make those people better off. People want to work, want to be productive, want to feel like they're not taking charity to feed themselves. So they'll take 3 jobs and try to survive on 5 hours sleep a night to do that, running their health into the ground, because employers will gladly take advantage of people's need to feel productive, while setting them all against each other to drive wages as low as the most desperate person to work will accept.

"The minimum wage, by eliminating low-paying jobs, prevents low-skilled people from getting started with employment."

Huh? First, minimum-wage jobs generally are "low-paying, low-skilled" jobs. Are you saying that restaurants would prefer to employ a new dish-washer at $7.25/hr if they'd previously been... catching rats bare-handed for $2/hr? Also, how do you account for the fact that low-skilled people manage to find low-paying jobs in countries that have better minimum wages than the US?

"Not only are you against allowing people to contract, you also want to deport people who exercise their right to speak. This is not a cheap shot."

Um, yes, it is.

"When you are willing to violate a basic human right like the freedom to contract, you're likely morally blind enough to be willing to violate other human rights."

Such as, the freedom to contract yourself into slavery? Or the freedom to contact buying food and/or medicine from a supplier who has not been subjected to any FDA checks because they assure you that you can trust them that they don't need any of that gub'mint interferin'?

The US already puts limits on the kinds of contacts that people can enter into, especially with large corporations, because they realise that there is a great imbalance at work. Corporations have a lot of incentive to fuck people over if they can get away with it, and a highly concentrated amount of expertise, time, and effort to put into doing their best to make that happen. While individuals are often inexpert in many fields, and do not have the time - even if they have relevant expertise - to push back against every corporation they deal with day-to-day, and the effort they expend doing so is disproportionate to the amount of benefit they personally will receive. Individuals' efforts are diffuse compared to those of a company, even more so when compared to the efforts of many companies trying to accomplish a goal together, like drive wages down.

The US also even has limits on speech, where speech can cause an immediate and direct threat to the safety of others.

I would argue that it is not moral blindness to limit the rights of some, where the exercise of those rights affects the wellbeing of others. Yes, limiting rights is dangerous, but I would argue that that simply means that it needs to be done carefully, in persuit of a specific goal, and only as much as appears to be necessary to achieve that goal - with the acknowledgement that it not be done at all if the goal appears unattainable; not that is must not be done ever.

No-one's rights are absolute, they always start get fuzzy when the exercise thereof starts to interfere with the wellbeing of others. Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.

"Instead, government restricts the supply of taxis making taxis expensive and relatively scarce."

Yeah, I'm totally with you on the taxis thing.


> employers will gladly take advantage of people's need to feel productive, while setting them all against each other to drive wages as low as the most desperate person to work will accept.

By this logic, all wages should be at the minimum wage, because without government setting a lower bound, employers would just keep setting employees against each other and thus drive wages lower. Why then do some people earn more than the minimum wage? Do they work for companies that do not try select the most profitable workers?

Don't employers also have to compete with each other for the best workers?

Don't workers too have the opportunity to choose among competing employers?

> Such as, the freedom to contract yourself into slavery?

People choose to enslave themselves all the time, just not to employers. The most common slave-masters today are alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and other vices.


The argument being made is that employers have a lot more market power in the employment market than potential employees. Employers have capital, they have inertia so they can absorb a lot more risk. There are fewer employers than employees so it is easy for them to form a cartel or engage in price fixing. This especially goes for low end jobs, where a small number of large corporations make up much of the retail and fast food market. Unemployed individuals are under a lot of pressure to find employment quickly, and they know there is a lot of competition. So, employers can set wages artificially low. This power is not absolute, which explains why not every job is at minimum wage. However, this is an observable effect. The gap between rich and poor is ever widening, the middle class is eroding away, yet all the while production has been increasing. Wages are being driven down artificially low.

I wanted to ask "where does it all end?" but then I realised from the rest of your comment, you actually seem okay with slavery. Which is odd really, because you argue about human rights, but the right to freedom of movement is actually a far more fundamental and clear cut human right than the right to form contracts and do trade. In fact, if your ideals about the right to form contracts result in other people losing their right to freedom of movement, then that's a clear sign that you have lost your way.


> The gap between rich and poor is ever widening,

The "gap" between the rich and poor is a function of possible productivity. As it becomes possible for people to do more, there will be more of a spread between people who do nothing and people who max out their potential. When all farmers worked farmed by hand, the "gap" between the lazy and the industrious was a few bushels of food. But now that there are tractors and financing available, the top farmers produce maybe thousands of times more than the little farmers.

The situation is similar in every field, especially those involving mass distributions. An interesting youtube video can get millions of times more views than an ordinary video. Is this a problem? Should we force people to watch uninteresting videos, or cap the interesting videos to reduce the viewing gap?

I don't see why increased productivity should be a concern, especially since being productive today generally means imparting benefits to large numbers of people. Larry Page is very rich, but he got that way by helping everybody with an internet connection to find useful information.

> . . . the middle class is eroding away, yet all the while production has been increasing. Wages are being driven down artificially low.

I don't understand what you mean by "artificially low" wages. Wages are generally set by supply and demand. As long as people are free to choose alternatives, they are not working for artificially low wages. An example of people with artificially low wages are prisoners who must take the work offered to them by prison officials. But the majority of people are not in prison.

> you actually seem okay with slavery

I'm all for stamping out slavery where it is committed by one person against another. No one should take away another's right to contract. But where a person voluntarily degrades himself, I see that as his choice, not mine.

> the right to freedom of movement is actually a far more fundamental and clear cut human right than the right to form contracts and do trade.

I agree that freedom of movement is a fundamental right. I'm not sure if it's more important that the right to contract or trade. I think it's less fundamental because there are a few situations where you could legitimately not have freedom of movement (while traveling in an airplane or trespassing), but I can think of very few situations where you wouldn't have the right to contract. (You might have contracted away your right to make future contracts for a limited time and subject-matter.)


"By this logic, all wages should be at the minimum wage..."

No, just the wages for "low-skilled" jobs. As strange as it may seem, people with a valuable skill are in a much better position to get companies to compete with each other for the best workers.

"The most common slave-masters today are alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and other vices."

Yes, and most countries realise that addiction to such things is a terrible public health issue, and in most cases try really hard to support people in breaking free of those chains.

Note that we've tried making such things illegal to protect people from themselves (Prohibition in the US, global War on Drugs.) but in that case it demonstrably hasn't worked, and has done more harm than good. The same cannot be said for minimum wages, which have been instituted by many countries around the world, and has failed to measurably harm the economies of any of them.


Slavery is immoral because it takes away freedom of movement (and is thus a form of imprisonment), not freedom to create contracts. There are no fundamentally fixed moral rights relating to trade because there is no universal objective notion of property. Property is an entirely social concept and can only exist through social contract. You only "own" an object to the extent that everyone else agrees you do.

Most people want there to be regulation of business, even if some of it is corrupt and inefficient. Most people want governments to collect taxes and control shared resources, even if this is inefficient and wasteful. These things are seen as a necessary evil. If it's what the public want, then it's not immoral, because the entire notion of property (and by extension trade) only exists as a social contract. To go into detail for your taxi example, the roads were built as part of a social contract where people pay taxes under the expectation that the government will execute some form of transport policy. Tax payers would have anticipated some form of taxi regulation to occur over future roads. For most people this is desirable because they want to be protected as consumers. If you take away taxi regulation, then you are not honouring the implicit contract that allowed for the creation of the roads.

You may personally disagree with this widespread desire for regulation. It is also reasonable to say that corrupt and inefficient regulation is immoral. However I think it is quite dangerous to argue that regulation itself is fundamentally immoral. The history of the industrial revolution shows what kinds of contracts ordinary people will willingly subject themselves to if they feel they have to.


> Slavery is immoral because it takes away freedom of movement . . .

Here's a counter-example: the difference between a freeman farmer and a slave farmer is not that they don't have freedome of movement, but that the freeman has the right to sell the harvest to whom he wants while the slave does not.

It sounds like the definition of slavery as lack of freedom of movement was dreamed up by some law professor in order to avoid having to characterize the income tax as a form of slavery.


Reminds me of the definition of pornography: you know it when you see it. Or Plato's man: an upright biped without feathers. Somebody plucked a chicken and said "Plato's man!". So he added "with broad nails".

Any time you try to create a minimal taxonomy you get into games like this. No malicious intent by theoretical law professors need be imagined.


You should really read your Karl Marx:

A man must always live by his work, and his wages must at least be sufficient to maintain him. They must even upon most occasions be somewhat more, otherwise it would be impossible for him to bring up a family, and the race of such workmen could not last beyond the first generation.

Oh, I'm sorry, I got that totally wrong. Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3300/3300-h/3300-h.htm#link2H...

http://redd.it/2311mb


"Wonder, for just a second, if we’re sharing the wrong things with the wrong people."

What wrong people? As the economy is globalized people who get paid yet don't make a contribution to the economy will be dug out - whats wrong with that? The only people who should be afraid are the ones who make money by not contributing. If you're observant enough to provide something useful that people want there will always be a place for you. If you want to coast and get paid for it then, yeah, this is gonna hurt.


>The only people who should be afraid are the ones who make money by not contributing.

Should be? sure. Are? No, those people are mostly at the top of the economy.


haha, nice point. At least some of them are at the top


Ouch. More bitter privileged snarkiness posing as commentary.

Over the years, I have come to understand that some people just want to punch a clock. They don't want to challenge themselves during their work hours, they don't want to think too much or take too much risk. They just want to punch a clock and get a paycheck.

I am not like this, but people tell me there are many that are. I am a risk-taking person looking to challenge myself to create systems that help people.

Most of the folks who think like me fail. That's fine. That's part of our lifestyle. The smart ones have a side job and manage to continue failing until something works out.

I am beginning to feel really sorry for the other folks. The world has always been the way it is now. It's just that before you guys were helping some of the rest of us out. Now we don't need as many of you as we did before. So there are a lot of little opportunities making less money instead of just one large opportunity where you didn't have to think about it any more.

If I understand the irrationality of the human species, the next step will be to call for a minimum hour law, or some such construction. We seem to be really good at spotting problems and not so good at understanding how the problems came about in the first place. (or even whether they are problems or not. Most of the time, what passes for problem-spotting is just emoting)


So because people who would rather be an employee than an entrepreneur "don't want to challenge themselves" and "don't want to think too much"?

I believe you've contributed to more bitter privileged snarkiness posing as commentary.

Job creators like yourself don't need as many workers to do the same jobs as before but true innovators realize many people do want a challenge and to think. You failed to incentivize your employees. Those who utilize capital, technology, AND labor in this post industrial age will win.


Interesting perspective. I think the sharing economy is more of a symptom than a cause though. The economy as a whole is squeezing society. I believe that there are fundamental structural problems that require core aspects of our system to be re-engineered. I don't think its as simple as giving everyone money or more regulation or less regulation. I think we need to make improvements to the underlying paradigm. That requires testing changes that are very different from what has been tried before. And changing fundamental assumptions.


I see a lot of this as a logical extension of your toxic tipping culture. For many jobs, a large part of income is already based on the hustle for tips. Every interaction is a transaction.

Australia is partially along the same path, though our strong anti-tipping culture (we have a reputation as poor tippers overseas) helps resist it.

Still, living in Norway was a great alternative perspective - where everyone in a regular job was paid a living wage, and the hustle was really only on the very outskirts of society rather than sewn right through it.


This article focuses on shareconomy services that operate in legal gray areas, particularly Uber/Lyft and AirBnB. Can the same arguments be made for shareconomy services that are perfectly legal? Such as: tool sharing, camera lending, bike sharing?


In a way anything that lowers the minimum cost of living can be bad, because employers will exploit this to justify paying less and society will label the ones that don't want to lower their baseline as "overspenders" (even if it may overall encourage you to spend more on other unneeded luxuries...).

By sharing your bike or any other thing you make the cost of making use of a bike lower. A more appropriate example would be for a family to own a second or a third car. If you own a second car, you have one more item that you own but don't absolutely need, therefore an item that provides financial security and independence because you can sell it when in need of money (even if at a lower value, it's still a way to get instant cash for an emergency). This is the kind of financial security that will allow you to show your boss the middle finger or ask for a bigger wage, because you know that that if you get fired you can still get by until you find another job, or you have enough stuff to sell and move to another place even if you bank accounts get frozen etc.

This is good because:

1. it make people less likely to accept a lower wage, driving wages up

2. it makes people with very risky but innovative ideas willing to start a business from their garage, because they know they still have enough savings to not end up homeless if everything goes south (note: I'm referring to the kind of ideas no sane VC would throw a penny at, but might very well change the world)

3. it makes people give more to charity, in two ways: (a) most people donate at some time the things that they buy but not use and (b) the fact that you "own stuff" gives you a sense of security that makes you worry less about your future and care more about the needs of others (dunno how healthy this way of thinking is, but this is how our minds work)

I know it's not a fashionable mindset, but I think that owning more, sharing less and giving (away) more (or reselling at way-below-market prices, which is close enough to it and doesn't hurt anyone's pride :)... ) is a much healthier, financially secure and more freedom promoting way of living than what we seem to encourage today! (because when you "share" you must create restrictions and limit people's freedoms, whereas when you give away something you also give away the freedom to use however they see it fit, and when you own something you don't have to limit freedom by imposing "fair use" policies because you are the single user)


I don't see how a depreciating second car works better than a bank account for what you are describing.

I guess there are probably some differences in the way people approach payments that they have to make and payments to their own savings accounts. But still, I'm pretty sure that saving more and consuming less is a more effective strategy for financial security than buying things you don't need.


Those services are making certain market transactions more efficient and that is a good thing. Whether people realize that not all things should be viewed as markets and transactions is another matter altogether.


> I did not yet understand then that those having or wanting just a job—just a job with decent pay—would be disparaged as “takers.”

Where is this true? I haven't seen this even in SV, much less on The Outside.


There is an implicit attitude I've felt in the dev community that you're supposed to spend every waking moment of your life absorbing information about your work.

Seeing how I'm commenting at 11 PM on a Sunday on this I guess I'm among those that do spend every waking moment on this stuff, but a lot of developers don't because its just a job.

Being up to date is one thing, doing it on your off time is another.


Sure, I agree there's lots of professional pressure on our outside-work time. But I haven't seen the attitude that if you're not self-employed, or aspire to be an entrepreneur, then you're a parasite, a "taker".

(My read on the "just a job" in the linked article is that it was referring to people not wanting to freelance, rather than people who wanted to work-for-the-weekend.)


The author is operating under the strange notion that doing a transaction outside the context of full-time work, or operating a business, is illegal.

Maybe businesses like Lyft, Uber and AirBnB facilitate people working in legal grey areas, but they also facilitate direct individual-customer relationships. These open up markets, and are therefore bad for incumbents (e.g. people already in the taxi industry) but good for people who for whatever weren't able to work in that industry before.

And what's with referring to people as "kids"? Is this how you assert your status as alpha male?


Just to clarify for the downvoters:

>Today there are people all over Baltimore subleasing places they don’t own, peddling without a license, hacking. This is a criminal offense. The law does not recognize the right of the people to earn enough to eat.

>All these entrepreneurs, most of them running little scams to get by, all of them held in contempt by the law and by most of society. Lyft and Uber and Air BnB face legal sanction too—but it’s just a civil matter.

The author clearly conflates the two issues of (A) not working for an employer or company, and (B) transactions that are illegal.

I already said how these may be linked in some cases. But it is unreasonable to imply that any work that is not done for an employer (preferable while working full time) must be some kind of scam.

EDIT: I'm not sure I like the new HN where I can't say something that is manifestly true (as proven by my quotes) without getting massively downvoted.


He's actually making a much simpler argument that may be unfamiliar to those not familiar with the underground economies of the inner city.

What he's saying is that the basic transaction that Uber or Lyrt facilitate is not novel, that people have been using single family residences as informal transient hotels and have been engaging in street corner unlicensed taxi type transportation for decades.

Except when they do it, it's often a criminal offense. The drivers are ticketed or even arrested, the people who rent out rooms on a nightly basis are evicted or charged with municipal violations.

They are primarily poorer and blacker. Then well financed tech companies come along and do the exact same thing -- literally -- and instead of being seen as a civic nuisance at worst or a sign of a severely crippled local economy at best, it's called "sharing" and "fun" and hailed as the next big thing.


Hmm, I didn't interpret the author's quoted words as meaning that any transaction outside of full-time employment or business is illegal. I thought he was just alluding to the common argument that has been used in lawsuits against Lyft and Uber. The argument goes that Lyft and Uber are transport providers and hence must operate under existing laws - for instance, obtaining transport provider licenses, accepting liabilities for accidents, and treating drivers as employees. Lyft and Uber instead say that they are a technology company and don't need to. It's a subtly different argument. I do wish the author had presented the argument explicitly, though.


No, what he's saying is that AirBnB, Lyft, Uber, etcetera might face lawsuits incurring civil penalties while the people they "hire" would incur criminal penalties if caught working for those companies. It's showing that there is a dual class of law for management vs the worker.


No, they don't think it's illegal; They just think it's immoral. Everyone should want to be tied down to a 9-5 full time job, for some crazy idea of middle-class "Stability". They fundamentally misattribute the death of the middle class on rise of the sharing economy, not the other way around; Nor as a function of the increasing automation, and by-the-by the increasing gap between the value of true knowledge-workers and automaton persons.


The author isn't blaming the sharing economy for the death of the middle class, but describing it as a symptom (and as a patchwork solution that doesn't actually solve any problem -having to work more for subsistency isn't going to restore your quality of life, it's just going to knock you a level down Maslow's pyramid of needs, and make you more miserable and actually less likely to cut it professionally in the long term).


If your marginal freetime is worth less than driving for Lyft, then it probably was before Lyft.

Either own the code and machines that these services run on, or prepare for either A) Basic income, leading towards crime and social isolation and the end of civilization for your class, or B) Slavery (WPA style), in order to prevent A. If you use your power of selective history the right way, you'll get B and enjoy it.

I, as someone of non-genius IQ, will use my still-existent income to enjoy the metaverse and avoid major cities.


What's with all the hit pieces on the sharing economy as of late?

There's another piece on the front page here too - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7651968

I'm struggling to figure out what the big problem is with more people becoming entrepreneurs?


Ok come on. You can at least comprehend the thesis of the piece. "Entrepreneur" drivers have poor job security. Is this a fundamentally better model for the middle class than being an Avon salesperson? That is a totally legit issues to discuss.

This may be a perfectly good short-term way to earn some cash, but the article is about the bigger picture for our economy. Don't pretend to not understand when you're really just tuning it out.


>"Entrepreneur" drivers have poor job security

That's true of entrepreneurs in general. I think most of the people doing that would rather have "poor job security" than "no job security" (or the alternative of simply no job) - which is the case for almost all workers without specific special skills.

> Is this a fundamentally better model for the middle class than being an Avon salesperson?

Comparing it to MLM who's business model is dependent on replicating itself is a completely different use case than what this is.


There is a bigger point that the article tries to call our attention to. If the choice is between "poor" job security and "no" job security, that is a pretty terrible choice. It does not blame Lyft et al directly. It asks us to consider the broader implications for our economy, and if anything, whether the "sharing economy" is truly its savior. That is the analogy with Avon et al for the previous generation (not the precise business model).


>That's true of entrepreneurs in general.

Of course, but these people have the insecurity of small businesses without the potential upside of having an ownership stake in a business.


Aside from the "sharing economy"'s brightest lights being designed to enrich everybody but the people doing the work, while offloading all of the risk onto the people doing the work?

Nothing, I guess.


I don't think uber drivers would be volunteering to drive if they were making more money doing typical limosuine or taxi services.

Same with AirBnb.

If they're not making money - why would they be doing it?


Because in the short term it sounds good, like eating takeaways. But in the long run its pathogenic. If you can't see the whole system and need a quick buck why not.

Theres a reason most of these industries have existed unregulated through out history, exploitation occurs, become regulated, and are now reappearing with a new tact and hitting up existing laws... and hence all the court cases where they are desperately trying to claim the services aren't illegal.

Theres a lot of consumer safety to be considered you rarely hear of, let alone what is technically stealing by reselling things you don't own. Theres a reason regulation happens, and its usually because exploitation occurs.


The problem is people in precarious jobs becoming "entrepreneurs". Risk - the very thing that was used to justify the profits of the Man - is shifted to the employees.


The shift of risk to the employees started when executives realized that they could cover they mistakes with a "reorganization" and still get a bonus in the end.


It's not sharing: it's renting.


The thesis is more that it's 'whoring'

And the pimp as the 'enabler',

(although ostensibly benign)

This seems a tad overly dramatic

But it works for an essay / thought piece.

Pimping definitely scales better, for example.

(Scale also diversifies revenue streams)

Whereas 'whoring' does not scale well;

its not long-term a viable profession.

(exploits the young/etc)


I think "whoring" and "pimping" are great analogies. We all know the only person getting a good deal in these transactions are the pimps and the johns, while the whores get screwed and end up trading their time for peanuts. It's not a path to a healthy middle class.




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