At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system. The contrast between the gig economy’s rhetoric (everyone is always connecting, having fun, and killing it!) and the conditions that allow it to exist (a lack of dependable employment that pays a living wage) makes this kink in our thinking especially clear. Human-interest stories about the beauty of some person standing up to the punishments of late capitalism are regular features in the news, too. I’ve come to detest the local-news set piece about the man who walks ten or eleven or twelve miles to work—a story that’s been filed from Oxford, Alabama; from Detroit, Michigan; from Plano, Texas. The story is always written as a tearjerker, with praise for the person’s uncomplaining attitude; a car is usually donated to the subject in the end. Never mentioned or even implied is the shamefulness of a job that doesn’t permit a worker to afford his own commute.

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/jia-tolentino/the-gig-economy-celebrates-working-yourself-to-death

8 thoughts on “At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an…

  1. Saw that article last week. It says what I’ve been trying to say for years, but so much better.

    As a side job, the new tools of the gig economy are amazing.

    But coupled with a lack of social safety net and so much of our non-work life being tied to our employer (most notably health insurance, but pretty much everything else you might get as a “benefit” from an employer), making “gigs” your only income is at best fraught with hidden costs.

    And an employer pushing this model because they want employees but don’t want the responsibilities of being an employer are just exploitative—even if it works well for some people.

  2. < ![CDATA[Saw that article last week. It says what I've been trying to say for years, but so much better. As a side job, the new tools of the gig economy are amazing. But coupled with a lack of social safety net and so much of our non-work life being tied to our employer (most notably health insurance, but pretty much everything else you might get as a "benefit" from an employer), making "gigs" your only income is at best fraught with hidden costs.
    And an employer pushing this model because they want employees but don’t want the responsibilities of being an employer are just exploitative—even if it works well for some people.]]>

  3. Mark Delsing Yeah, I really don’t get why conservatives aren’t all over getting companies free from having to provide healthcare. The government can do somethings better when it is given the proper funding and support.

  4. < ![CDATA[Mark Delsing Yeah, I really don't get why conservatives aren't all over getting companies free from having to provide healthcare. The government can do somethings better when it is given the proper funding and support.]]>