The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, March 24, 2017


In an article entitled, "The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death," Jia Tolentino, writing in the left-wing New Yorker, laments the manner in which gig workers (e.g., people who work for Lyft or Fiverr) work so hard as independent contractors, rather than paid employees with the usual pension, healthcare, and other employee benefits (e.g., maternity leave). Tolentino writes that gig companies that celebrate their contractors dedication and hard work are somehow morally bankrupt and that the reason is, well, read on:
At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system. The contrast between the gig economy’s rhetoric (everyone is always connecting, having fun, and killing it!) and the conditions that allow it to exist (a lack of dependable employment that pays a living wage) makes this kink in our thinking especially clear. Human-interest stories about the beauty of some person standing up to the punishments of late capitalism are regular features in the news, too. I’ve come to detest the local-news set piece about the man who walks ten or eleven or twelve miles to work—a story that’s been filed from Oxford, Alabama; from Detroit, Michigan; from Plano, Texas. The story is always written as a tearjerker, with praise for the person’s uncomplaining attitude; a car is usually donated to the subject in the end. Never mentioned or even implied is the shamefulness of a job that doesn’t permit a worker to afford his own commute.
Phew. It's all about the evils of capitalism and about the horrors of worker exploitation.

It is interesting that Ms. Tolentino doesn't ask a fundamental questions: Why has a gig economy boomed over the past eight years?

Could it be that under the executive edicts and deficit spending of a left-wing president and the inaction of a stalemated Congress:
  • taxes grew higher and higher, depressing business investment?
  • regulations grew at a rapid pace, depressing the creation of small businesses—a primary employer of the kinds of people now doing gigs?
  • mandatory healthcare edict kept moderate size business from growing? 
  • "living wage" mandates (think: $15/hr) in many blue cities have caused entry level jobs to dry up?
Maybe that's why there are fewer and fewer hourly and salaried jobs with benefits and why so many young people have to make their way with gigs. And maybe, just maybe, the gigs might lead to something better ... but no, it's all about exploitation, isn't it?
    Based on her CV, I would venture to guess that Ms. Tolentino has never run any business that created anything but words, has never had to meet an actual payroll, has never had to navigate through a forest of regulations that forces many tiny businesses to shutter their doors, has never had to work long, long hours at no pay for a start-up in the hope that the infant business would grow and become profitable. Oh wait—profitable!! That's a bad thing, right?

    Better for "the government" to control the economy, mandating a "living wage," placing price controls on products to be sure that everyone is treated "fairly." Better for left-wing intelligencia like Tolentino to ridicule the story of a man who walks to work, shows up every day, rejects the welfare state, and tries hard to support himself and his family.

    Last week I posted on the smug style of far too many progressives. Tolentino's piece is just another example of the arrogant condescension that exemplifies the attitude of many social justice warriors.

    For them, "America's obsession with self-reliance" is the problem. After all, if we'd just go all-in as a socialist country, we could achieve the utopian social justice that has been achieved in places like, say, Venezuela or Cuba. Yeah ... that's the ticket!