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Powerful ‘anti’ forces need a bucket of icy-cold water poured over their heads

Monday, March 04, 2019

According to demographer Bernard Salt, there’s a big cultural shift in Australia towards being your own boss. And it’s a lifestyle thing. In The Australian Bernard referred to:

… profound changes to the way we earn a living…Part … caused by the rise of the gig economy … but part is also due, I think, to the ageing of the population and to a cultural shift in attitudes to work.
Bernard said that there has been a six-fold increase in the sole-trader population since the end of the mining boom. He gives a break-up of the data by state, capital city and regions. He refers to entrepreneurial ‘hotspots’ such as the Melbourne CBD, but also regions such as Kings Meadows in Launceston with a 23 per cent increase. Bernard asks:
What could be better than living in a seachange idyll? Being your own boss in a seachange idyll like Victor Harbor, or Torquay, or Busselton, or Ulladulla, or the Gold Coast.
He concludes that:
A new be-your-own-boss narrative is driving the Australian obsession with lifestyle.
But there’s a problem. There’s a whole bunch of powerful groups who hate this Australian lifestyle urge.
The anti-gig economy thrust is simply an excuse to hit self-employed people, a decades-old agenda.

And a key indicator of what’s coming is the Victorian government’s inquiry into the gig economy intended, in our view, to build a false reason to clamp down. The inquiry’s discussion and approach, however, are full of misleading drivel. And we’ve said so in our lengthy detailed submission, In Search of Unicorns:
  • For more than a century, variants of the same gloomy fiction have been cycled and recycled, almost in clock-like manner. On-demand platform work is the latest variant of a moral fairy-tale that pits the ‘good employee’ against the ‘wicked independent contractor’.
  • …the (Victorian) Background Paper … assumes an air of suspicion about independent contractors.
  • So much of the discourse around both the platform economy and the independent workforce is inflated, overstated and alarmist … [with] … nightmare scenarios of Technological Armageddon and the End of Work.
Oh spare us the idiocy! And we appeal that please—
  • A good bucket of icy cold-water needs to be tipped over the protagonists of this hyperbole. That includes governments.
It looks like we’re in for a long argument with these self-employed haters. But that’s what we’ve been doing for almost 20 years!

Helen commented on 05-Mar-2019 12:45 PM
But my understanding of the 'gig economy' is that it refers to people not genuinely self-employed, but e.g. Uber drivers, fast food delivery drivers and the like who are at the mercy of big tech giants who take the profits out of Australia. I know someone who recently ditched driving Uber for working in aged care part time. She said she made more doing that than Uber, which had a number of onerous requirements and very poor recompense. She is a genuinely helpful kind hearted person who loves looking after the older people. Gig economy surely does need scrutiny as many people doing it just have absolutely no way of getting ahead in those 'gigs'. Genuine self employed people are a different matter - just my two cents worth.

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