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Is the gig economy a path to prosperity or the indenture of just getting by?

4 52 0
19.05.2019

One of the best things that American capitalism has going for it is the myth machine that’s programmed generations of school age Americans to believe that our collective national story is a narrative of remarkable broad-based socio-economic progress.

It’s like that warm and fuzzy inner glow we get from Disney’s Epcot Center where we can trace “early man” executing cave drawings through the printing of the Gutenberg Bible all the way to today’s driverless car.

It’s all very patriotic and cuts down on the odds of incubating young radicals who might threaten capital’s established order or be in too much of hurry to make things better now. The one thing you don’t want to teach them is labor history because then they will know just how bad its been and for how long.

Yeah, people died for the cause of labor rights in the fervent hope something might get better. Owners didn’t just say “oh, you don’t want to bring your 11-year-old to work with you anymore and you want Sunday off? No problem.”

The cover story for the great disappearance of unions goes something like this: “Yes, at one time back in the era of black and white movies American workers were terribly exploited but then they organized unions and several Frank Capra movies later, the workers won their struggle and we got the minimum wage and the forty-hour week, but we really don’t need unions in modern times.”

Or, so we were told.

We know just how violently exploitative slavery was as an institution but how many Americans know that by some historical estimates half to three-quarters of European immigrants that came to the colonies had some form of indenture price hanging over their head.

Capital has been kicking labor’s ass since it wore powdered wigs in this country and the data shows it hasn’t let up since, as the widening wealth and income gap demonstrates.

Scroll forward a few hundred years, the entire recorded history of the country and according to a 2018 Federal Reserve Report on the Economic Well Being of the U.S. Household in the 21st century “four in 10 adults, if faced with an unexpected expense of $400, would either not be able to cover it or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money.”

So that’s the great wheel of progress? More like the randomness of the wheel of fortune. At least when you were indentured there was a chance you might get free food and shelter.

In the 2020 debate for the Democratic nomination, the constant refrain we hear from the moderators of the cable debate is that the greatest danger Democrats face is the perilous prospect they will go too far left, too fast.........

© Salon