The Codependent Economy
Updated: Feb 21
“Welcome to the world of codependent contracting, where wage cut is recast as a software upgrade.”
In the on-demand economy (Postmates, Uber, Instacart, etc.), workers are responsible for their own schedules, expenses, health care, and taxes. There is some overlap with the sharing economy, but efficient deliveries are certainly not sharing. Happy to expand on that, but that’s a whole other topic. In most cases, these workers are delivering food, goods, merchandise ordered at the push of a button from an app.
The big problem with all of this that’s stated and restated – is that no one is watching out for the workers of these companies. In this app driven economy, there are no unions, no employee protection, etc. And yet, the majority of the VALUE is coming from people, their cars, their time, their energy. Apps are more or less commodities and yet we’re commodifying labor as a product.
This really brings to light the ever increasing digital divide… should someone spend their gas, time, and resources to bring another a $7.50 yogurt from a boutique shop for $6.80 when all of this takes them over an hour? Mind you, once you subtract gas, IC expenses, and overhead – that $6.80 might be as low as a few dollars per hour with zero protection.
While these are all venture backed enterprises that aren’t going under any time soon, I see one of two outcomes – and in all likelihood a probability of both. The first is that the legal battles will make many on-demand business models nearly impossible to sustain long-term, the second that a new tax classification will be created, and the third (which I’m most excited about), there will be models that implement real sharing of ownership value, distributing the value that is created amongst the value creators. This could come in the form of cooperatives, served by digital currency, peer-to-peer value driven exchanges… or other unforeseen structures that support these new ecosystems as the ecosystems that they are.
Regardless of the future of drones or an open and free market for labor or even the gig economy (which is obviously here) – I think there is a better way to structure organizations without minimizing and dampening human potential, ever increasing the wealth divide.
Instead of an interdependent economy, let’s create an interdependent one!