By Moe Tkacik, In These Times
The Left has yet to properly absorb two major revelations of 2020: 1) The ruling class, for all its platitudes, decisively does not care about small business, and 2) We are all small businesses now. To the first point, a court-ordered Small Business Administration data dump in December confirmed that more than half of the $521 billion doled out in April’s CARES Act small business rescue program were snagged by just 5% of well-heeled recipients, including sectors like construction and law that were merely inconvenienced—certainly not decimated — by Covid-19 shutdowns. Meanwhile, the clique of gig app developers behind California’s successful passage of the terrifyingly absolutist Proposition 22 in November — which effectively repeals the very concept of employment for any worker who takes orders from a smartphone app — have vowed to nationalize the law.
We can expect the collapse of the service sector to lead millions of displaced sous chefs and bartenders and fisherpersons to open Etsy and LawnStarter accounts, live on couches while renting out their apartments on Airbnb, sign up to drive for DoorDash, cook for a CloudKitchen, or sign up to be a third party seller on Amazon. Thanks to the business model codified in Prop 22, they’ll be the CEOs of their own immiseration: sourcing their own equipment, withholding their own payroll taxes, shopping around for insurance and, inevitably, hiring other gig workers to assist with the unmanageable workload of the 21st-century subsistence entrepreneur. The line that once distinguished workers from the small-time merchant-farmer class Marx called the “petit bourgeoisie” will be all but obsolete, erased by the hands of a few deep-pocketed data-mining conglomerates that are (generally) yet to even make money.