Economics/Class Relations

If We Don’t Break Up Big Tech, We’ll All Be Uber Drivers Soon

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 incon­ve­niencedcer­tain­ly 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.


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