Richard Florida calls it the Great Reset. Others call it Freelance Nation and the Gig Economy. Sara Horowitz, writing for the Atlantic, calls it the industrial revolution of our time. It’s been a long time coming, and now it’s finally, really here. No more spending an entire career working for a single company, keeping your head down for the last 10 years to ensure your pension. As Horowitz writes, “We’re no longer simply lawyers, or photographers, or writers. Instead, we’re part-time lawyers-cum-amateur photographers who write on the side.” Horowitz reports that as of 2005, one-third of the US workforce were at least partial participants in this new freelance economy and that by 2009, “entrepreneurial activity” was at its higher than it had been for 14 years. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, the US government stopped tracking independent workers in 2005. Horowitz, who founded Freelancers Union, writes that it’s time to migrate our support system from the employment model to one that is more flexible and mobile. “The solution will rest with our ability to form networks for exchange and to create political power,” writes Horowitz. “I call this ‘new mutualism.’” She promises to dig deeper in subsequent articles.
This week the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) released its 18th annual executive compensation report which opens, “Corporations don’t dodge taxes, the people who run corporations do. And these CEOs are reaping awesomely lavis rewards for the tax doding they have their corporations do. In fact, corporate tax dodging has gone so out of control that 25 major US corporations last year paid their chief executives more than they paid Uncle Sam in federal income taxes.” Those 25 companies averaged global profits of US$1.9 billion (seven showed losses) and paid their chief executives an average US$16.7 million annually. The IPS report, as Katrina vanden Heuvel, writing for the Nation, points out, has cost the US government at least US$100 billion annually. Chuck Collins, one of the co-authors of the IPS report, notes in an article for Yes!, that “20 of the 25 companies spent more lobbying Congress last year than they paid the IRS in federal corporate taxes.General Electric invested $41.8 million in lobbying and got $3.3 billion in tax refunds. Boeing spent $20 million on lobbying and got a $35 billion contract from the U.S. government, while paying a paltry $13 million in U.S. taxes for a company with $4.3 billion in U.S. income last year.