From both the federal and state governments, the gig economy is under attack. But what is the gig economy and why is it so important?
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi Connor.
Connor: Hey, Brittany.
Brittany: So the workforce has changed a lot and the workforce meeting, like what, you know, what people who are working in the world, you know, what career they do. It’s changed a lot, especially over the last decade. Oh yeah. And a lot of our, listeners are going to be grown up soon. They’re gonna be getting their first jobs, hopefully, if they’ve listened to us, they’ll be getting apprenticeships sooner rather than later. But we’ve talked a lot about career building and even how to act in an interview. But there’s another aspect of work and another option of work that I really wanna talk about today. And that’s the gig economy. And the gig economy is essentially contract work. And what that means is you do like peace work for a company. So if I wanted to write for a company, I could write for them without being an actual employee. And this gives individuals the opportunity to choose flexibility, you know, working from home over maybe employer-provided benefits like healthcare, things like that. Cause they can get that elsewhere. And this has been so helpful to people. You know, this has allowed moms to work while they stay home with their children and those who are sick and afflicted and really can’t move around a lot, or can’t get out of their home. This has given them the opportunity to kind of work without having to go into an office. And traditionally, when we think of the gig economy, we think of like Uber Eats, Uber drivers, and that is usually what we associate it with. But there are other forms. You know, I have a nine-to-five job, but I also do a lot of contract work. So I participate in the gig economy. And a few years ago to share a personal story, my life was kind of turned upside down and I found myself really needing to make more money cuz my income was dramatically increased and I wasn’t making enough at my job. So I contracted, I utilized the gig economy to make more money and my life was drastically improved. I don’t know if you have any personal experiences with this, Connor?
Connor: Yeah. Before I started Libertas Institute, I was a web developer. And so I would often do kind of random side projects for people who needed, you know, a website made or a logo made, or they needed some tech support. And it was great because like you, I had a nine-to-five, you know, standard job. but I realized that I could, supplement my income or increase my income by having some of these side jobs to the point where, I seriously, considered and at one point, for a short, period of time did, work on my own and just have these little client projects. And, I know there’s a lot of people today who do that, where their, whole, nine to five job is not nine to five. It’s just a bunch of different little Yeah. Projects I use right now all the time, I will use a website called upwork.com which is basically a global network of people with all kinds of skills. I’ll give you a couple of examples. I did an audiobook, I recorded the audio version and I had to submit it to Amazon, for their kind of audiobook system. And they require it be in a specific format and all this kind of stuff. I’m like, I don’t wanna have to learn about that. So I went on Upwork. I found someone in like Ukraine, who was like perfect at this, had all this experience. I hired him, he did it quick, he did it perfect. And off I went. right. I needed a logo design. I went onto, a website where people, you know, will kind of put bids in and do that. And it is great because it allows someone like me, to gain access to the expertise and the knowledge and, whatnot of a wide range of people even all over the world now because of the internet. Or it allows me to not have to cook lunch and I can order, you know, DoorDash or Uber. It’s like, it improves our life because it gives us so many more options. Back in the day, if I needed a logo design, I’d have to either learn how to do it myself and do a horrible job, or I’d have to like word of mouth, kind of ask around on my network, do you know anyone? But now there’s abundance, there’s so many choices. And of course, that’s how the free market works is through choice. We get better products for lower prices. There’s more competition. It’s a wonderful thing. And so the gig economy is great because it allows someone like me who needs help from like different professionals to have a wide range of options. But then it allows those people who are in those jobs, like right now, I’ll give you another example. One of the people that I hired to help with some of our Tuttletwins stuff, she lives, she’s from America, but she now lives, in Costa Rica. And, she basically lives on the beach and she had a little tourism-type company which suffered during Covid. Yeah. And so she was able to, she does like some graphic design kind of stuff. And so all she needs is a computer in the internet and she’s able to, support her lifestyle, stay living there, even though her business isn’t doing great. And so that has made her life better and helped her kind of like with you when you went through that period of having some economic challenges. Right. Like, it gives workers more choice, more options, like, hey, I just was fired from my job. It’s gonna take me another month or two to find a job. In the meantime, I can go drive for, you know, Uber or DoorDash or whatever.
Brittany: It’s like a safety net really. It’s like a free market safety net. Yeah.
Connor: Yeah. I like that way of thinking about it.
Brittany: I wrote about that. So I sold it from my own article. So what’s weird about this though is even though this is helping so many people, the gig economy is actually under attack, which really scares me is somebody who benefits from it. so there’s a law in California that’s called Assembly Bill five, and this is the first thing in the country that’s ever tried to do this, but it’s trying to take this flexibility away from these workers and it’s trying to take the flexibility or the convenience away from, you know, people like you or I who might utilize contractors. So basically government in California, which California’s got so many problems, we could do like seven episodes just on what’s wrong with California. But the legislators there have decided that they know what’s best. They’ve decided that they can speak for the people. And so they’re trying to terminate these jobs by saying no gig economy workers need to be full-time employees. So you have to, you know, maybe make them work from an office nine to five when you have to give them benefits. And I get that on paper. That sounds good. You know, people think healthcare, that’s great, but that’s not really what’s happening here because choice, and we have talked about freedom of choice so many times, and these individuals are choosing the gig economy for a reason. Right? Maybe it’s cuz they’re raising kids at home. Maybe it’s because they have a spouse that already has benefits, so they don’t really need them. But when it comes down to it, they are choosing to do this. And already since this bill has been enacted hundreds of thousands, and that’s not even an exaggeration, hundreds of thousands of contractors who were working for the gig economy have lost their jobs. And because these companies get fined, if they don’t, you know, offer benefits to these employees, they have to like meet a checklist. And the checklist is so broad that pretty much everybody fits into it. So companies will get fined if they don’t hire these people on. So you have companies who can’t afford to use any of these workers, so they’re just not using them. And, it’s already ruining people’s lives in California. So it’s this law is protecting the same people, or sorry, it’s hurting the same people. It’s supposed to protect, but these legislators are so out of touch with what the regular person wants that they’re deciding that they know best.
Connor: Yeah. And part of the challenge here too is that it’s not just that these workers are kind of losing their job because the law is making things more difficult. What’s happening is that the companies that are facilitating, these jobs, they can’t operate. yeah. And so for example, you know, when I order lunch on DoorDash, well DoorDash is a company that had created, created an app, on the phone where it matches me and a driver. So I fill in an order, I’m like, Hey, I want something from Chick-fil-A, and then it finds a driver nearby and that driver says, yep, I’ll go pick it up for Connor. And, then he takes it over and then he gets some money. And so, DoorDash is not hiring anyone. They’re just saying, look, we’re, connecting like this peer-to-peer transaction so that Connor and then this driver who lives near him can get matched up because otherwise, Connor would’ve no clue who has a spare 15 minutes to go pick up Chick-fil-A for him. But our app is gonna connect the two of them. All they are is like a connector. So they don’t employ these drivers. They’re, not like, you know, cuz those drivers can work for Uber and Lyft and Door.
Brittany: And DoorDash. Yeah. They can do and Upwork, right? They could be using all of them.
Connor: Totally. And so they’re not employees in the truest sense, of, the DoorDash to keep using that, as an example is just, just kind of saying like, Hey, we’ll send you a referral. Like when Connor says he wants a meal, we’ll kick that over to you and you know, let you get the money for that and we’ll just take a piece of it for, you know, building the app and making this possible. Well, when, California comes along and says, well, you need to give all your drivers and your gig workers, you know, healthcare insurance and, overtime pay and all these types of things, then the app company is like, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. Like, that doesn’t work with our business model.
Brittany:it’s like the antivit, like it’s the opposite of the business model.
Connor: Absolutely. And so when the companies are like, we can’t make this work, this just doesn’t work, then what do they do? They just say, well, we have to now shut down in California, or we have to get rid of a ton of drivers, or we have to stop operating for a while while we figure this out. We have to raise costs because now it’s gonna cost us a ton more money of course than people start, stop, excuse me, people stop using the service because it becomes unaffordable. So the government so often feels like, as you point out, Britney, it knows what people need, it knows what to do. And, they remove choice and they, add restrictions that make it difficult. And there are other states that are looking at doing the same thing. Even, you know, there’s, proposals in the federal government to do the same thing. And part of me feels like, you know, it’s, these old politicians who don’t understand the new economy, right? Yes. They grew up in this time when workers had pensions, in other words, guaranteed retirement plans and they would work for the same company for 50 years. Right. And that’s just the way it was. it was very like industrial era. You’d go to the factory and that was your job. You’re a factory man, and they would take care of you in your old age kind of thing. Well, we’ve moved away from that. we don’t really have pensions so much anymore. We have 401ks, we have other ways where people are responsible for their own retirement. People move jobs around all the time, like even like just nine to five workers I’m talking about. Right. People bounce around, you know, work two years here, four years there, then go somewhere for a year then somewhere else. And so because of the internet and, other factors, excuse me, people are not sticking at one job all the time. So that part is new and then comes the internet and apps and, cell phones all over the place. And so now we have gigs, the gig economy, people being able to do these little tasks even like, you know, delivering not just meals or people, but like, Hey, I need you to pick up my dry cleaning for me. Like, all these things have been made possible. And that is so different from the way it used to be. So you have these politicians that are older and feel like, whoa, the security that come steady paycheck and health insurance being provided by the company is something that everyone needs and should benefit from. Therefore we need to make sure that this newfangled gig economy is consistent with the way things have always been done. And, you know, that’s just, that’s defending the status quo, which means like the way things have always been or currently are, and the status quo may be good in some respects, but in many respects, it’s not nearly as good as it could be. I mean, I could before have to drop everything and go drive to Chick-fil-A and take half an hour outta my day for the trip there and back. Yeah. And now I can be more productive, spend that half an hour doing things that benefit, way more people, have someone else for a few bucks pick up my meal. For me, that makes my life better. Which in turn makes the lives better of the people I’m serving and whose lives are being benefited by my work. But these politicians don’t really seem to understand that and they’re stuck in kind of the way things were.
Brittany: Yeah. And there’s another aspect to this that is personal to me and that is, the student loan crisis. So there was one incredible story. I say incredible story. I wrote it, I probably shouldn’t be so braggadocious, but so. There’s a story of a girl who was, I mean she took out, I think it was hundreds of thousands of student loan debt. I think it was law school. And it’s very hard to get out of that situation once you’ve gotten into it. But she was able to write it or drive for Uber at night and pay off her student loans within a matter of years. which is almost unheard of. I mean so many people with student loan debt have just kind of come to terms with the fact that they’re gonna have debt forever. But because she went to school during the day, drove Uber at night, she was able to make payments before she even went into repayment. The loans went into her payment and that helped her financially. So this is a solution to so many problems. And like you said, the government is coming in and saying, Hmm, I dunno about that. We don’t understand it, so we’re gonna go ahead and legislate it.
Connor: And, I think that’s exactly the wrong thing to do. I mean, you know, we could even talk about other innovations. Think of something like blockchain and Bitcoin and when these new things come around, the government gets scared and they want to, politicians want to keep the status quo. When you have Julian Assange and WikiLeaks just, you know, publishing the crimes of government. Well, wait, wait a minute. We’re used to having, you know, publishers and newspapers who the government could call and threaten and say, you know, don’t publish that cuz it’s a national secret. And if you do, we’re gonna come after you. Like, the government is used to a way that things have been done that they can control. And when you have these new systems come out that provide, you know, new benefits but are quite different from the past, I think the people who are, used to controlling other people politicians Tend to look at that with a lot of worry and skepticism. And so they want to make sure that these new, innovations and these new systems get folded into the old regulations get folded into the way things always been done. And the problem there is that, that is going to limit innovation. if we require that new business models like a gig economy, have to only operate within the old way of doing things, they’re never going to unleash their full potential. And that’s a disservice to us because that means we’re never gonna be served to the degree that we could. Our lives are not gonna be as good as they could be just cuz some politicians, you know, got scared or certain lobbyists that have, you know, pressured them. I mean, cuz that’s another important point. You get the lobbyists for the industries that are being disrupted. When Uber and Lyft came to town, it was the taxi industry that was, you know, resisting this and getting politicians to fight back. And so we shouldn’t be afraid of innovation. In fact, the world moves forward with technology and progress and serves us. But like we’ve talked Brittany in the past, how no one could pay us enough money to go back and live even 50 years ago, let alone a hundred years ago and not have the creature comforts that we have today. Right. The world is, is a better place for all of these things, including the gig economy. The government should stay out of it. because like with your own life, you know, you’ve been well served by the gig economy and, as are we all, because I like ordering my Chick-fil-A on an app and not having to drive over there. So we gotta preserve the gig economy. I don’t wanna drive to Chick-fil-A anymore. All right, we’ll wrap it up there. Thanks, everyone for listening. Make sure you’re subscribed. As always. You can head to Tuttletwins.com/podcast. and find the show notes for each of our episodes. Make sure you share the podcast with your friends. Let’s get more people listening. We’d love having you guys aboard. And until next time, Brittany, we’ll talk to you later.
Brittany: Talk to you later.