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How the Sharing Economy Screws American Workers

Category : Book Review

Fifty-one years ago, Bob Dylan's song "Maggie's Farm," a brilliant satire that compared the job prospects of that generation's youth to that of working on a dystopian plantation, was released on Dylan's album "Bringing It All Back Home." The owners, Maggie, her ma, pa and brother -- a real close-knit unit, like a small "sharing economy" startup -- were quite eager to put you to work, but they were a bit stingy on the compensation side for your menial, TaskRabbit-type work.

Well, I wake in the morning
Fold my hands and pray for rain
I got a head full of ideas
That are drivin' me insane
It's a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor
I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more

Dylan wrote that song in the 1960s, at a time when the plight of U.S. workers was actually on an upswing. Wages were rising, living standards were increasing, racial minorities and women were finally starting to find their seat at the table. For the next couple of decades, the U.S. workforce remained one of the most productive and wealthiest in the world.

But flash forward to today, and the workforce has been enduring a long strange trip downward for nearly three decades. That's how long it's been since, in aggregate, American workers have had a pay increase. Even as corporate profits are at an all-time high, with significant chunks parked...  Read More

Steven Hill

Steven Hill is a Senior Fellow with the New America Foundation and a Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. He is a political writer and author of five books, including Raw Deal: How the "Uber Economy" and Runaway Capitalism Are Screwing American Workers (October 2015) and the internationally praised Europe's Promise: Why the European Way is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age. His previous books include 10 Steps to Repair American Democracy, Fixing Elections: The Failure of America's Winner Take All Politics and Whose Vote Counts (with Rob Richie). His articles and media interviews have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Financial Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Die Zeit, Project Syndicate, Los Angeles Times, The Nation, Politico, Ms., Mother Jones, Huffington Post, American Prospect, Salon, Slate, The Globalist, Hürriyet Daily News (Turkey), Prague Post, Courrier Japon, Taiwan News, Korea Herald, Toronto Star, India Times, Burma Digest, Egypt Daily News, BBC, C-SPAN, Fox News, NPR, PBS, Democracy Now, Austrian Public Broadcasting and many others. He lives in San Francisco, CA. He is co-founder of FairVote and former director of the political reform program at the New America Foundation. For more information, visit Steven Hill's website at www.Steven-Hill.com, and follow him on Twitter @StevenHill1776 and Facebook StevenHill01 Hide full bio

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