We’re Not Workers: The Sharing or Gig Economy Empowers Business Owners.
This afternoon I was listening to a radio program on NPR describing how horrible the new “sharing” or “gig” economy was for workers — how it offered no protection to workers from everything from sexual harassment to unemployment. The funny thing is that the “sharing” or “gig” economy isn’t set up for “workers” but rather to enable business owners to reach customers more effectively. Platform companies like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb allow “people” to start businesses — connecting them directly to customers willing to pay them for a ride or a nights stay.
In an effort to protect Americans from themselves the government is trying to make it harder and harder for us to set up our own businesses. The opponents of these “sharing” or “gig” economy platforms believe that most Americans have no business setting up their own businesses. Local governments are working harder and harder to keep companies like Uber and Airbnb out of their local jurisdictions by erecting regulatory barriers that make it difficult for them to operate. Federal and state governments are focused on classifying independent contractors as employees — and not business independent business owners.
Americans should have the right to enter into commercial contracts with one another — the government should not interfere with these contracts based on a notion that some businesses are better or worse than others. I’ve started several businesses over my career and frequently I entered into agreements that on face value weren’t profitable — but in the long run I knew that those contracts would allow me to secure future contracts that were profitable. Imagine if we had to justify our contractual agreements with government employees — honestly, I can’t.
Participants in the “sharing” or “gig” economy have the ability to provide their employees (themselves and/or others) with any benefit they wish. Everything a standard W-2 employee might expect is available to business owners — retirement benefits (401K), unemployment benefits, disability (long and short term), and health insurance.
We should trust business owners to make smart decisions based on their circumstances — not based on the evaluation of public policy experts who have never owned a business or made a payroll.