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Can an incoming tide be stopped? Some powerful people are trying

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Some claim that freelancing, self-employment, whatever you want to call it, is surging in developed economies. For example:

•  One USA survey states that freelancing there has grown from 53 million in 2014 to 55 million in 2016, now making up 35 per cent of the workforce, an amazing observation if true!
•  In the UK, the rise in self-employment is well documented and authenticated. Over 4.7 million people were self-employed in early 2016 having grown from 11.9 per cent in 2000 to 14.9 per cent of the workforce.
•  However, in Australia self-employment has been fairly steady, bouncing around the 18 per cent mark for the last decade.

There are many factors at play in determining whether self-employment thrives. Disruptive new business models are major influencers. Take Uber and Amazon, for example.
  • Essentially Uber is a technology platform that enables self-employed people to run their own business. Uber manages the transactions (bookings, payments, etc.) between the customer and driver.
  • Amazon is similar. See here, here and here. It enables businesses of any size, particularly huge numbers of self-employed people, to be retailers without having the expense of bricks and mortar retail outlets.
Amazon and Uber themselves might be huge firms, but they are strong because they enable the flourishing of small business entrepreneurialism.

But there’s pushback.
The debate over the ‘evils’ of self-employment are strong. Read this blog exchange between a ‘gig economy’ hater and a supporter in Australia. The opposing views are well explained.

Essentially the issue is one of freedom. Do people have the right to be their own independent boss? Or is government to force everyone into the modern form of employment wage-slavery?

In Australia there is a massive government attack against people’s rights to be self-employed. The Australian Taxation Office is withdrawing people’s Australian Business Numbers. Without an ABN, the ATO effectively cuts off your legal right to invoice your clients, thus destroying your income and business. We will have much more to say on this in the future.

Freedom is the incoming tide of a social movement. But staggeringly powerful government institutions have God-like power to halt the tide.
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