There are two dominant classes in the United States today. There is the elite, career holding class made up of suburban parents, professionals, and wealthy urbanites. And there is the ‘underclass,’ a class not necessarily characterized by their lower income (they can make just as much if not more than some in the upper, yet still middle, class), but by the nature and status of the jobs which they can hold. These jobs held by the lower class, which is lower only by social status, not by education or knowledge or understanding, are by nature somewhat like a revolving door. The jobs come and go, some elites may call this the gig economy, and you often think of jobs like Uber or Lyft driving or meal delivery, or package delivery for the likes of UPS or FedEx. This is the characterization of the lower class, and it relegates their income to being sporadic and unreliable. The wealthy upper class cannot make this distinction between working for a company like Uber, or working a manual labor job serving the suburban elites in an occupation like landscape construction, or even just regular landscaping. Because there is virtually no distinction, the line blurs and becomes incomprehensible. When referring to the gig economy, this does not mean the fact that upbeat drivers have to wait 10-15 minutes between the rides that are coming in off their smartphone apps. No, it means the fact that the person driving for Uber, Lyft, or landscaping, does not intend to hold the job for a long period of time or the nature of the job does not enable him to.
“It is almost as if we have relegated humans to a system of interchangeable parts.“
These are rotating service jobs in which human labor is thought to be disposable, and it is. A farm owner can simply hire another, different farm hand to replace one which he is not happy with, or train a new tractor driver in a short amount of time because of the low skill nature of the job. In essence, the companies that these workers work for are providing a service to the clients (transportation, landscape services such as mowing, or production of food), and the workers are providing a service to their employers. It is almost as if we have relegated humans to a system of interchangeable parts. So, the question is, is this good or bad for the economy, and if it is bad, what can we do about it. I take the view that this is not an ideal world, and so I will try to recommend a policy change. First we must take a deeper exploration into the root of the problem. In the next part of this series on the class struggle in the United States, I will explore the nature of competition within companies for this ‘gig economy’ driven labor, and the nature of competition between companies for clients. The nature of competition within companies for clients is particularly important because of the idea that every man is his own boss and advocate. We will explore these ideas in more depth tomorrow.