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The "Gig Economy"; Another Vicious Attack on Ordinary Working Slobs

By       Message Mike Whitney       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   6 comments

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Reprinted from Counterpunch


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"Contrary to the rising-tide hypothesis, the rising tide has only lifted the large yachts, while many of the smaller boats have been dashed on the rocks." Joseph Stiglitz, economist

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American plutocrats and their political lackeys in congress have implemented a plan that's putting pressure on wages and further decimating the already battered middle class. By sustaining high levels of unemployment over a long period of time, US elites have "restructured the labor force," which is a pretentious-sounding expression that means they've created a permanent underclass that's willing to slave-away at demeaning, part-time jobs for mere peanuts without uttering a peep of protest. This metamorphosis of the workforce has taken place mostly in the shadows, concealed behind a thick fog of state propaganda touting the fictitious "recovery," a recovery in which long-term jobless workers have abandoned all hope of finding gainful full-time employment and resigned themselves to a lifetime of scrambling from one odious task to the next just keep a roof over their heads and the wolves away from the door.

After eight years of applying this coercive "starvation strategy," the plutocrats "grand plan" is finally coming into focus. According to economists Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger's new paper titled "The Rise and Nature of Alternative Work Arrangements in the United States, 1995-2015":

"All of the net employment growth in the U.S. economy from 2005 to 2015 appears to have occurred in alternative work arrangements.

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"Alternative work arrangements? You mean there's been zero growth in ordinary 9 to 5, 40-hour-per-week jobs in the last 10 freaking years???"

Indeed, that's exactly what it means. It also means that Obama's relentless crowing about the phantom "recovery" is mostly bunkum. There is no recovery. It's an invention built on the ruined lives of people who have been forced to take all-manner of servile, low-paying, part-time, service-sector jobs just to keep food on the table. That's Obama's glorious recovery in a nutshell. Here's more from the World Socialist web Site:

"All US job growth for the last decade came in 'alternative work arrangements' -- people working as independent contractors, temps, through contract agencies or on-call -- according to a study published Tuesday by Princeton University and the RAND Corporation...

"The actual number of contingent full-time workers rose from 14.2 million in February 2005 to 23.6 million in November 2015, an increase of 9.4 million. Since total US employment rose by 9.1 million during this period, the number of workers in conventional, full-time positions actually dropped by nearly 400,000." (Temps and contractors accounted for all US job growth since 2005, World Socialist Web Site)

Repeat: "The number of workers in conventional, full-time positions actually dropped by nearly 400,000."

Great. So we're actually going backwards, is that what they're trying to say?

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Yep. And if you look a little deeper into this topic, you'll see that things are actually worse than the Princeton report suggests. For example, check this out clip from Bloomberg:

"The differences between Katz's and Krueger's 15.8 percent finding and the higher percentages reported in some other recent surveys mainly have to do with definitions. The Government Accountability Office's April 2015 estimate that 40.4 percent of U.S. workers were in alternative work arrangements included part-time workers as well as some self-employed workers not covered under the BLS's definition of alternative work. It was also based on a survey conducted in 2010, when the percentage of involuntary part-time workers was still quite elevated in the wake of the recession. The 2015 Freelancing in America survey that deemed 34 percent of U.S. workers to be freelancers included moonlighters who already had other jobs, as well as some small-business owners with employees." (The Gig Economy Is Powered by Old People, Bloomberg)

Let's skip the bullsh*t about "freelancers" and "moonlighters" and any other cutesy sobriquet for part-time drudgery. What we're interested in is the GAO's damning April estimate that "40.4 percent of U.S. workers were in alternative work arrangements." As far as I'm concerned, that's where the rubber meets the road.

Bottom line: A large percentage of the working population can't find ordinary, decent-paying jobs with benefits and retirement because the shithead oligarchs who own this country figured they could use the financial crisis to further dismantle whatever gains labor has made in last century while reducing workers wages to something on a par with a peasant stitching blue jeans in a windowless Hanoi sweatshop. That's the objective, isn't it, making sure that everyone everywhere is exploited equally?

You know it is. Obama was ordered to slash fiscal stimulus in 2009 while the corporate honchos curtailed business investment. But, why?

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Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.

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