Are concerns over job displacement and challenging working conditions as much a result of poor alternatives as of the emerging gig economy?
Senator Elizabeth Warren thinks so, and has proposed regulation that takes this into account.
She resists the temptation to demonise the online platforms that have become a focus of fears over job security, epitomised by the ride-sharing company Uber and its rivals. This balanced appraisal of their business model is welcome. It is true that Uber’s offer of cheap abundance depends on low wages for drivers, who are held to be independent contractors and so enjoy none of the protections of employees. However, the fact that online platforms can attract workers in large numbers despite relatively unappealing conditions is an indictment of the labour market in many of the countries where they operate.