From the Great Depression to the Gig Economy
Gig #5, Gig #6 (2021)
Where Are They Now: Gigs #5 and 6 (2021)
The patron saint of the gig economy has to be Uber. There is no clearer indication of this than the efforts by drivers to Unionize. The owners claim to just be a simple wittle innocent software platform that is used voluntarily by drivers as a side-gig or income supplement. This claim is contradicted by their desperate need for full-time drivers due to a shortage of people willing to work for next to nothing. Keep in mind that Uber chooses to pay next to nothing, forcing the drivers to shoulder the costs of car maintenance as well as both car and health insurance. And they have to go wherever the meager wages take them. As a freelance graphic designer, I was paid a higher hourly wage to offset the lack of benefits.
One could argue that Uber must pay low wages as they make no profit. They’ve been running at a loss basically since before their IPO. So even if they are just a software company and not an employer to their drivers, why are they so successful and yet not making money? How does a company see so much success and investment and not make money? Because investors still see value in the company or to put it another way, they see value in the exploitation of workers.
Because exploitation of workers is popular, and investors see lower overhead and wet their pants. The human factor never enters the profit calculation.
So who are the Depression-era exploited, itinerant workers that can compare to Uber drivers? Hobos. I introduce you to HobUber.