In last week's Liberty Update, we highlighted the Heritage Foundation's 2022 Index of Economic Freedom…
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Image of the Day: More Economic Freedom = Higher Standard of Living

In last week's Liberty Update, we highlighted the Heritage Foundation's 2022 Index of Economic Freedom, which shows that Joe Biden has dragged the U.S. down to 22nd, our lowest rank ever (we placed 4th in the first Index in 1995, and climbed back up from 18th to 12th under President Trump).  As we noted, among the Index's invaluable metrics is how it demonstrates the objective correlation between more economic freedom and higher citizen standards of living, which this graphic illustrates:

 …[more]

May 19, 2022 • 12:53 PM

Liberty Update

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“Progressive” Bureaucrats and Crony Capitalists Target the Gig Economy Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Wednesday, October 14 2020
Isn’t it odd how 'progressives' such as these seek to permanently impose a strict 1940s-style employment model on our dynamic 2020s world? How is that in any way 'progressive?'

In recent years, the “gig economy” has introduced a universe of new conveniences for consumers, and new flexibility for workers.  

That trend only accelerated amid the coronavirus pandemic, which brought unanticipated procurement needs for consumers, and new health, family, telework or other lifestyle demands for workers.  

Unfortunately but predictably, overzealous bureaucrats, labor unions and crony capitalist special interests consider the gig economy a threat to be stifled rather than an opportunity to be perfected.  

Here’s how TechTarget neatly defines the term “gig economy”:  

A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations hire independent workers for short-term commitments.  The term “gig” is a slang word for a job that lasts a specified period of time.  Examples of gig employees in the workforce could include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires.  

For workers, the advantages are obvious.  They can set their own hours and work when it’s most convenient for them and their family needs.  They can set their prices.  They can accept or decline job offers based upon their own safety concerns, expertise, time commitments or anything else.  They can even work simultaneously for different and competing companies offering the same service.  It can put food on the table for furloughed or laid-off workers, and it can provide additional income for people who spend their time in other paid or unpaid pursuits such as musicians or artists or homemakers.  

For consumers, the advantages are equally obvious, offering services unheard of a decade ago or even five years ago.  For example, think of Uber rides and speedy food delivery services.  

Indeed, amid coronavirus health concerns, American consumers understandably feel greater reluctance to venture outside the home for meals, and many restaurants remain either closed or significantly restrictive of on-site dining.  Enter gig economy food delivery, which has provided that invaluable service to quarantined or reluctant consumers.  

As referenced above, however, the gig economy’s success has not escaped the jealous eye of government, labor unions and special interests seeking to cripple it.  

Because the National Labor Relations Act and antitrust laws prohibit unionization of independent contractors, “progressive” lawmakers in Congress and states like California, New York and Illinois seek to forcibly reclassify gig workers as formal employees.  In turn, that would end worker flexibility in terms of hours, which days to work and other aspects of job performance that they now choose for themselves.   But to labor unions and the politicians they support, that’s of little import compared to boosting union membership while numbers continue to plummet, in turn reducing the dollars that they can contribute to leftist election campaigns?  

Isn’t it odd how “progressives” such as these seek to permanently impose a strict 1940s-style employment model on our dynamic 2020s world?  How is that in any way “progressive?”  

In similar vein, is there any better barometer of what public policies do not merit Americans’ support than an endorsement from The New York Times?  In a recent opinion piece entitled "California, Reject Prop 22," its editorial board instructs voters an entire continent away to reject a ballot initiative that would protect gig workers’ independent status.  Never mind that gig services like Uber, Lyft and others would likely cease operations in the state if the Times gets its way.  

Elsewhere, interest groups like restaurant owners seek to impose price controls and commission caps on food delivery services, which would threaten similar harm.  

Currently, restaurants can offer online order and delivery via services like DoorDash or Grubhub, and pay a percentage of the order’s cost.  Restaurants and the delivery services agree on a bargained-for commission rate in their contractual terms, and restaurants are obviously under no obligation to retain their services at all.  Restaurants can offer delivery service themselves, use other non-commission services or choose to not offer delivery at all.  

But why tolerate a free market when “progressive” politicians can step in and impose commission caps and price controls, right?  

As one prominent example, consider an organization operating under the deceptive name "American Economic Liberties Project."  It has petitioned Congress, as well as various state legislatures, to tip the market scales in favor of restaurants by capping the commissions that delivery services, with whom they freely contract currently, can legally earn.  How does that in any way accord with the "Economic Liberties" in its organizational name?  

In any event, their price control and commission cap proposal is a terrible idea because those commissions not only pay delivery drivers’ earnings, but also for such things as driver background checks, safety measures, customer support agents, auto and personal insurance, credit card fees that often constitute 3% to 4% of order subtotals, app and website maintenance and marketing costs.  

Moreover, such price controls and commission caps would hit smaller restaurants particularly hard, since delivery services would understandably shift toward larger restaurant chains due to the higher volume and prices that they offer.  

Gig workers contribute $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy, in addition to the opportunities and conveniences referenced above.  The last thing we should do is allow reckless politicians and self-serving crony capitalists to threaten that through suffocating new regulations like price controls, commission caps and stifling labor reclassifications.  

Quiz Question   
How many days does it take the average U.S. household to consume as much electrical power as one single bitcoin transaction?
More Questions
Notable Quote   
 
"Lawmakers continued to raise concerns about the Internal Revenue Service at a Congressional hearing this week as the agency deals with billions in misspent dollars, hefty processing backlogs, and complaints over poor customer service.Lawmakers lobbed questions at the tax-collecting agency during the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee hearing.'The program has an annual improper payment rate…[more]
 
 
—Casey Harper, The Center Square
— Casey Harper, The Center Square
 
Liberty Poll   

Should any U.S. government agency have a function called the "Disinformation Governance Board" (See Homeland Security, Department of)?