We're getting screwed. We're getting screwed and it's dressed up as convenient and fitting in with our lifestyle. We're getting screwed and it's so that those with power and money can entrench their power and money while at the same time reduce protections, stability and security for those actually doing the work.
It's called the "gig economy", a name to make it sound cool and accessible. "Hey man, want to work for yourself? You don't have to answer to the man anymore! You just work when you want to and don't when you don't."
Except you also get paid less, you have no worker safety-nets and the workers are doing more and more work for somebody else who does very little but still takes ridiculous amounts of money.
The world's largest taxi company is Uber. It owns no vehicles. The largest hotel chain is Airbnb, it has no hotels. Largest retailer? Alibaba. It has no stock. Despite these companies owning very little of anything tangible they receive inconceivable amounts of revenue. While the people who do the work - the Uber driver, the Airbnb host - those people are seldom able to live on just that income alone.
There are websites where I can put up a piece of work that I want done and then individuals "bid" on that work, offering me that piece of work for a fixed cost. All this does is create a race to the bottom in terms of what people get paid.
Nearly every service in the "gig economy" offers nothing more than what already exists, but allows some Silicon Valley jerk to clip the ticket while taking zero responsibility.
Historically you could get a job that would pay you a salary so you have the security of knowing how much you would get every fortnight or month, and that you'd continue to get paid if you fell ill, or wanted a holiday.
But now with the "gig economy", we're creating a subset of the working class. These are people who have jobs but those jobs do not pay enough for them to live. And if you get sick or if you want to take a holiday then sorry mate, you don't get paid at all.
Temporary work isn't new, for example hospitality staff in this country have usually been temporary. Temping is a word that most people understand. But doing temporary work meant that you'd still be earning enough to live. It would cover your rent or your mortgage, you could earn enough to buy food and pay your utilities, and you'd still be able to afford to do something fun.
But the gig economy has driven down wages so that this is no longer the case.
"Cut back on the luxuries" is a common refrain from people who can afford "luxuries". Except why should people be deprived of something fun? Life shouldn't just be working the whole time so somebody else can earn huge amounts of money off of your labour. Nobody should be excluded from taking part in society.
The whole system is supposed to be a trade of your labour for money to live. And to live is to eat enough food, sleep somewhere warm and dry and have fun. Fun isn't a luxury.
The "gig economy" is a dressed up euphemism for a return to feudalism. I'm not even exaggerating. Having multiple short-term jobs was how the lower classes survived before the industrial revolution. We're now heading towards a tech-feudal society, except instead of the nobility, the clergy and the peasantry we now have the 1%, government and the workers.
Where does it end? Being a taxi driver used to be a career, it's now part of the "gig economy". Will teaching become temporary work? You show up, teach a course three days a week for just one term get paid and leave?
The more we believe the "gig economy" is just a new cool, convenient way for us to work on our own terms and not a concession of our rights as workers, the worse it will become. We have no bargaining power if we are competing against each other. If we come together as workers, cooperate as larger groups, then we can get better working conditions, better pay and consequently a better life for everyone.