Friday, April 08, 2016

1627 The Gig Economy

That’s when you don’t have a “real” job and you have to work a bunch of places to make ends meet which they often don’t these days.

Musicians “gig.”  So do actors, radio and TV people, writers and sometimes clergy.  They have professions that don’t regularly employ regular employees.

So a hearty welcome to the world of show business to some distinctly non- show biz types.  Drivers, kitchen workers, hairdressers, and contractors of all ages.

There are some benefits to this kind of life:  you get to set your own schedule.  You usually can get portable health insurance.  You can deduct new things on your income tax returns.  And you can just say no to oppressive bosses.

But there are drawbacks.  For example, you may have to pay your rent in installments.  And you can’t always eat every day.  But we’re too fat as a population anyway.  And cat food doesn’t taste all that bad if you add a little vegetable… like Ketchup.  (Who was it said that?  Some President or other.)
Minimum wages vary among states.  And in New York and California, governments are trying to raise theirs to $15 an hour.  Business is screaming.  But business is always screaming.

Some smart operators have long used the gig economy as a weapon against workers.  A “full time” employee is usually defined as someone who works 40 or more hours in a week.  At that level, employers have to offer benefits.  Benefits are expensive, especially when you have to make that yacht payment every month.

Enter the 39 hour week.

And enter the contractors.  A contractor works for himself, but at or for an established business. A large and important retailer recently made a big deal out of raising its starting wage.  Good, right?  

Well, yes.  But why are they now looking to hire contractors who aren’t paid the new rate.  Having it both ways.

The gig economy.  Work at Wondermart 20 hours a week.  Work at Wondermart’s competitor down the street for 10 or 15.  Presto.  You’re a full time employee.  Well, sort of.  If you’re called in often enough at each place, your time is filled.

Someone please pass the ketchup?

--What was Crazy Cruz thinking, trying to speak at a high school in the Bronx after that little dig about “New York values?” Turns out the administration in a rare burst of responsiveness thought about a letter from students promising a civil disobedience walkout. They un-invited him.

--Cruz should spend his New York time where his voters are.  Anyone figure out where that might be, drop us a line, please. One each of Joe McCarthy and Wally Balloo are enough, and we’ve had those.

--And at last we bid final farewell to the third worst program in television history, American Idol which closed out season 15 last night by crowning another screeching unmusical white boy, Trent Harmon as its last winner.  A pre recorded President Obama opened the program by congratulating Idol for the wonderful job it has done elevating the art of screaming in tongues while playing a guitar badly to the level of national treasure.  But he also said the show got today’s teens and their older millennials used to voting, good for the future.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2016

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