I just finished reading “Raw Deal” by Steven Hill, a Senior Fellow with the New America Foundation. The New America Foundation is a non-profit think tank designed to bring new ideas about addressing new challenges to the public. The book is pretty interesting. It takes an economic, legal and public policy perspective in evaluating a lot of the ‘sharing economy’ situations happening today, covering some familiar territory but integrating a lot about labor law into the discussion. It calls essentially for a new social contract to give the ever-increasing numbers of freelance/piecework/1099 workers more protections–what Hill calls a new social contract–through cheaper health care insurance costs, through individual security accounts, and other ideas to make life better.
One favorite part of the book was a brief sentence where he countered claims that the ‘flexibility’ of working in the sharing economy is a huge benefit (that balances out the low wages)–he says that often the flexibility comes from having no work to do, and that adds to stress, and that isn’t a benefit at all (clearly I’m paraphrasing because Hill is a really good writer). Interesting point.
Anyway, he calls for workers to come together in groups–maybe unions, maybe online groups like We Are Dynamo–and lobby the government for the new social contract. One of the challenges with the sharing economy is mobilizing online citizens, and sadly the book is light on ideas on how to do that. But interesting other ideas all the same.
The book is published by St. Martin’s Press.