Tl;dr, implementing minimum wage in Seattle shockingly did not kill jobs. or businesses, or cause prices to significantly rise.
Uber’s business plan, like that of so many other digital unicorns, is based on extracting all the value from the markets it enters. This ultimately means squeezing employees, customers, and suppliers alike in the name of continued growth. When people eventually become too poor to continue working as drivers or paying for rides, UBI supplies the required cash infusion for the business to keep operating.
When it’s looked at the way a software developer would, it’s clear that UBI is really little more than a patch to a program that’s fundamentally flawed.
The real purpose of digital capitalism is to extract value from the economy and deliver it to those at the top. If consumers find a way to retain some of that value for themselves, the thinking goes, you’re doing something wrong or “leaving money on the table.”
Douglas Rushkoff on the UBI gig economy.
Like, to be clear: I still support UBI. But, uh. Not as the only policy. And the gig economy is still a cyberpunk dystopian garbage heap so… there’s that.
Tl;dr, the current capitalist system only “works” because everyone conveniently elides externalities in price calculations, and nowhere is this more evidence than in the military cost that goes into securing the oil supply.
Americans have been taught — indoctrinated, perhaps — to think of the economy as capitalism. Quite literally: if capital returns are high […] then Americans suppose the economy is booming. But capital returns — profits, dividends, stock markets, GDP (or their opposites, deficits) — are not the economy at all. They are just the success of capitalists, at increasing their capital. Hence, the average American — who isn’t a capitalist, since the true capitalists, Bezos, Brin, Buffett, are tiny in number — is cheering on capitalists increasing their capital, but not his own income, savings, living standards, health, longevity, or happiness. […]
Americans think the economy is a set of abstractions about capitalism — more exactly, capitalists increasing their capital. But they have been systematically warned against thinking of the economy as them: the simple and daily realities of their very own lives — whether or not they can afford food, shelter, medicine, education, save, retire, create, dream, build, grow. Comrades — the victory of capitalism is the victory of us all!
umair haque on economies.
I said to [Bill Clinton], “Mr. President, this seems as clear a case to me as any could be of a place where government is a legitimate actor. I’m not sure why you need to work with the soft drink companies to make smaller cans. You have products that have no redeeming nutritional value for children. […] You have children who cannot vote and cannot easily organize to thwart the power of these products, which have addictive qualities. This seems as clear a case for using political action and collective action.”
He said, “No, that doesn’t really work because you gotta make sure the companies have a business model. If you don’t help them continue making money after you fix this, it’s not gonna work.” I just thought that was such an astonishing moment. A man who had actually run the most powerful machinery of state in human history saying, “No, we can’t use that machinery of state to protect children from harmful products. We have to make sure the companies have a business model on the other side.” Part of what I’m trying to interrogate in the book is: When did many of us start to believe that social change must be congenial to those profiting from the status quo?
Anand Giridharadas on the status quo.
I am neither for nor against temping (or consulting, or freelancing). If this emergent flexible economy were all bad or all good, there would be no need to make a choice about it. For some, the rise of the gig economy represents liberation from the stifled world of corporate America.
But for the vast majority of workers, the “freedom” of the gig economy is just the freedom to be afraid. It is the severing of obligations between businesses and employees. It is the collapse of the protections that the people of the United States, in our laws and our customs, once fought hard to enshrine.
We can’t turn back the clock, but neither is job insecurity inevitable.
Louis Hyman on jobs.
The real answer is much simpler […] the thing that’s proved the most effective recruiting sergeant for socialism is capitalism itself. In fact, nearly 60 per cent [of university-educated Millennials] agreed with the statement “capitalism has failed”. But when a majority of young people say they think “socialism would be a good idea”, what they are actually talking about is the mixed economic system under which many of today’s ageing Thatcher–Reagan fanboys grew up. That is, a planned, concerted approach to the distribution of capital, rather than the debt-laden, short-term contract present in which our Hunger Games-style system has landed us.
Guy Rundle on why kids these days fuckin’ love socialism.
So I wasn’t really expecting Karl Marx to talk about the economic impacts of mufti day1) in his seminal 1867 work, Capital. Volume I: The Process of Production of Capital and yet… here we are.
(I’m not even making this up. The English translation literally uses the word “mufti”—the term meaning “casual dress” has been in use since 1816—and it’s in the context of perceived worth and how a general has more of such, i.e. what we’d now call “social capital”, when in uniform as opposed to not.)
- (Incidentally, the term “mufti” in a modern context is probably kind racist, given its appropriative Orientalist roots, so… there’s also that.↩