The Desperate Hustle as a Way of Life

April 27th, 2014

Via: City Paper:

Here is the future: nobody gets any job security. Nobody gets a fair wage while they have a job. Nobody gets a retirement fund or even any guarantee they’ll be able to eat tomorrow. And almost everyone is doing everything they can just to get by—and paying some substantial portion of their earnings to a pimp or “platform” which controls the business they are in. And ain’t life a grand adventure? Isn’t it all so fun?

Welcome to the Sharing Economy.

This is the model of the new economy, where anyone with a car ought to be a Lyft contractor (your fare pays what he or she thinks is right but the company is tweeting out “we’ve slashed prices 20 percent”) and anyone with a house or apartment is renting it out on Air BnB and crashing at their boyfriend’s parents’ place.

All of this came about by design. The world is arranged according to the people who arrange things—the people who make money by this arrangement. We’re in our fourth decade of this. The Times reported this week that the American middle class has been surpassed by Canada’s.

And it’s much worse than the New York Times imagines. As Dean Baker points out, the middle classes in most other countries have increased their incomes while getting longer vacations. In the U.S.A.? Not so much.

But this life of hustle—the idea that everything you do, every day, needs to turn a profit or you starve—is familiar to anyone who lives or grew up in an inner city. In Salon today, D. Watkins points to the junkies putting on a fight-show for crack, and the lady who runs the candy/cig shop out of her second floor window, lowering the product down in a pencil box tied to a rope of shoelaces. You’ve seen the guys moving “loosies” and the guys selling the bags from the food pantry.

They are fucked. And we are them.

One Response to “The Desperate Hustle as a Way of Life”

  1. dale Says:

    The movie IN TIME covered this day-by-day existence, metaphorically. And because it all boils down to time in the same way Buckminster Fuller defined wealth as stored future life, I think it fit pretty well. In the U.S. – this is definitely the trend.

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