This blogger disagrees with economist Robert Reich when he says the rise of “independent contractors” in the American labor force is a legal trend. It is an economic trend in which incomes are trending down because of problems in the energy and resource base.
Our economy has recently been through some golden years of prosperity which have come to an end, probably because we have used up the most easily accessible of the energy and mineral resources. There are lots left but the difficulty of extracting them is reducing the potential for continued economic growth and maybe even going to force upon us some negative growth.
One of the consequences is that living standards are falling – at least for some people. As wages are sticky and people protest when asked to take a cut in wages employers try to find other ways to accomplish the same thing. One way is to contract out work and another is to assign the work to independent contractors. The jobs get done at a lower cost to the employers and some workers have jobs even if at less income. In some cases the work may be done by different employees.
This is hardly a trend to make people happy. If it were up to me everyone would have the same incomes, working conditions and benefits as most government employees. But economic realities will not allow that.
If there has to be a reduction in living standards then it would be fairer to share it among most people. One way to do this would be with a universal income scheme.
Filed under: Economics | Tagged: American labor force, contracting out, economic growth, Economics, energy, income scheme, incomes, independent contractors, living standards, resources, Robert Reich, wages |