The Trouble with the “uber for…” Economy
Zeynep Tufekci

Thank you for joining the conversation and writing about an important topic. For the past 15 years, I’ve earned my daily bread (and paid the mortgage) as a freelance writer. Before becoming a freelancer, I was employed for 18 years in full-time positions as a staff writer or editor in the newspaper industry. Most of those full-time positions no longer exist; longing for the “good old days” of the newspaper industry won’t put food on the table.

The upside of being a freelancer is that it allowed me to become a stay-at-home dad while my children were in middle school and high school. As a freelancer, I am “free” to accept or reject assignments. For the most part, I write about topics I find interesting.

The downside, of course, is that it’s almost impossible for me to predict my income from one year to the next. In some years, it’s difficult predicting income from one month to the next! I’ve learned to live with that uncertainty, and in many ways, it’s forced me to become a better person.

I realize that driving a taxi and being a freelance writer are not the same thing. But all of us self-employed types are members of the growing “1099 economy,” and that bring us to the real problem: The rest of society seems unaware of our existence. From the perspective of most institutions, we fall into a twilight zone. As a result, we’re easy to ignore, and when we have problems with healthcare, taxation and financial services, there are no ready-made solutions.

The “uber for …” era is still in its early stages, and we need a healthy conversation about the upsides and downsides. Pretty soon, there will be too many of us to ignore.

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