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Your opportunity to be a "micro-entrepreneur": By cleaning other people's homes or renting out your spare room.

Your opportunity to be a "micro-entrepreneur": By cleaning other people's homes or renting out your spare room.

Thomas Friedman, and others, have recently extolled the virtues of the sharing economy (see "Welcome to the Sharing Economy," or "How to Monetize Your Closet"). At the risk of bragging, my immigrant parents were clearly trendsetters in this area. They typically rented or borrowed spare rooms (rather than stay at motels/hotels, or in a regular apartment), cars, clothing, shoes or pretty much anything they couldn't afford to own themselves -- which was just about everything. They also pioneered as "micro-entrepreneurs," always willing to do an odd job for cash. Of course, this was in the late 1930s, when my poor and uneducated immigrant parents were just one step short of becoming homeless. The 21st century sharing economy isn't being embraced because people want "lightweight (asset-free) living." It's usually embraced for the same reasons it was embraced in the 1920s-1930s. For many people, there's not any other choice.

Airbnb is the archetype of this trend. Its service allows people with a spare room to use it as an ad hoc "bed and breakfast." It rents these rooms to complete strangers, who in turn get to stay with complete strangers. What a delightful and desirable use of one's home!

Mr. Friedman writes enthusiastically about a future where we will typically: rent out our power tools, give each other rides, and provide cleaning services -- all via Internet-based platforms such as Airbnb. We'll achieve a brave new world where each of us will be (in Mr. Friedman's words) a "micro-entrepreneur." That's kind of like being a real entrepreneur, except you won't have: a regular salary, paid vacations, employer-provided health insurance, or a chance of getting rich from an IPO. Being a "micro-entrepreneur" in this brave new world seems instead just a euphemism for being an employee, except with reduced compensation, job security, benefits and protections.

I suspect Mr. Friedman, who makes $40,000/speech, isn't an active and regular user of Airbnb. He's not likely to want to stay with random strangers when he travels, nor have random strangers stay at his home. Similarly, I doubt any of his family members would welcome the opportunity to become "micro-entrepreneurs" by cleaning other people's homes.

I'm not criticizing the entrepreneurs who've spearheaded creation of this new and improved sharing economy. By building two-way feedback loops (both buyers and sellers rate each other), they've improved the experience for everyone, and lowered search/transactions costs. For VCs or entrepreneurs creating a marketplace/platform in this space (e.g., the next Airbnb), this could be an exciting and profitable opportunity. But let's not delude ourselves about some of the underlying economic forces driving this trend.

According to Pew Research, income inequality has returned to levels not seen since the 1920s. In 1928, the top 1 percent of families received 23.9 percent of all pre-tax income, while the bottom 90 percent received 50.7 percent. Today, we're back to approximately these same patterns of income distribution.

We've also created an underclass of people not suited to employment in a modern economy, but perfect "micro-entrepreneurs" for the sharing economy:

"Twenty-five percent of Americans that start high school do not graduate. Entering the workforce without a high school diploma means an unemployment rate three-and-a-half times the rate of those with a college degree. And for those who do find full-time work, they on average earn less than half of what a college graduate makes each year.

Thirty percent of high school graduates do not go on to college right after graduation. In the workforce, a high school graduate earns on average more than someone without a diploma, but still only 60 percent of what a college graduate makes each year." -Source: CNN

On top of these long-term trends, we currently have about three job seekers for every available job, and 11 million people looking for work -- so the growth of the sharing economy isn't surprising.

Americans aren't looking forward to their new careers as "micro-entrepreneurs." According to a recent Bloomberg National Poll, Americans -- by a margin of about two to one (64 percent to 33 percent) -- believe the U.S. no longer offers everyone an equal chance to get ahead. As you might expect, these feelings are most pronounced among those most likely to be offering their services as "micro-entrepreneurs" in the sharing economy.

So "welcome" to the sharing economy -- also known as the collapse of the American Dream.

Steven Strauss is an adjunct lecturer in public policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Immediately prior to Harvard, he was founding Managing Director of the Center for Economic Transformation at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Steven was one of the NYC leads for Applied Sciences NYC (Mayor Bloomberg's plan to build several new engineering and innovation centers in NYC), NYC BigApps and many other initiatives to foster job growth, innovation and entrepreneurship. In 2010, Steven was selected as a member of the Silicon Alley 100 in NYC. He has a Ph.D. in Management from Yale University, and over 20 years' private sector work experience. Geographically, Steven has worked in the U.S., Asia, Europe and the Middle East.


Follow Steven Strauss on Twitter: www.twitter.com/steven_strauss

This is cross posted from my blog, and originally published on December 29th, 2013 as 'Welcome' to the Sharing Economy -- Also Known as the Collapse of the American Dream

Originally posted to StevenStrauss on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 07:53 AM PST.

Also republished by Income Inequality Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Free Press: Speaking the Truth of Ownership (14+ / 0-)

    to the people.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 07:56:00 AM PST

    •  serfs were better off (9+ / 0-)

      When serfdom was abolished in Western Europe, people had no illusions about what their new freedom actually meant: "A slave must be fed, but a free man is free to starve" was a common attitude.  Obligations to one's lord carried with them reciprocal obligations of the lord to his dependents; of course these mutual obligations were massively unequal, but they were guaranteed.  Free tenants owed no crop or labor to their lord (only rent in cash or kind ... and taxes to the crown) but correspondingly were owed little protection by their lord.  If you had any ambition, you wanted to be a free tenant, but in such an ossified society, there was little to be gained from your hard work but more of the same.

      Working as a house servant or manservant was actually seen as the good life by comparison.  You were totally dependent, but that dependence offered security.  There was a modicum of honor in your proximity to the lord or lady.  Also the work could be physically easier, you got to be inside all day, you got to wear decent clothes and bathe regularly (at least by the standards of the time), and depending on the era, the servants' workspaces and quarters in the raised basement and the attic even had the same view of the estate as the family's rooms.

      Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

      by Visceral on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 09:58:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If I were Friedman (0+ / 0-)

      and his, I would be more attendant to the future of the 1%, TBTF banks and finance economy not so oddly left out of his  futurism prediction.

      "So listen, oh, Don't wait." Vampire Weekend.

      by Publius2008 on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:44:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Friedman is an ass. (32+ / 0-)

    "So I talked to this cab driver on my way to (insert place) and he told me how excited he was to be renting out his closet to a family of five.  And thats when I realized the World is Different than what it used to be, and this Different World is a grand place of opportunity and democracy.  Of course, this Different World has some pitfalls (insert midwife/birth metaphor) but it is all about this new dynamic.  Lets call it: (insert a catchy phrase.) Yes, we'll have to re-think (anything most people used to be able to have that is now beyond reach) but I predict (Friedman prediction.)"

    "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

    by Reepicheep on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 08:21:07 AM PST

    •  No kidding (26+ / 0-)

      What sort of creep uses "asset-free" as a positive phrase for how people live? "Asset-free" my arse. The word is STARVING.

      "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

      by nosleep4u on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 08:40:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Enterpreneurship" is a false solution. (17+ / 0-)

      Friedman and his ilk throw out their proposed solutions with confidence and bravado, but the fact is he, like every other "serious person" do not offer solutions for the real problems. What they offer is verbal bullshit solutions to problems that are of no concern to them and of which they are totally ignorant of the realities. Friedman is nothing more than a grossly overpaid bar stool drunk who has the answer to any problem in the world. He is among the class of commentators for which time has proven wrong over and over.

      Friedman is an idiot. The reality is this:

      The vast, vast majority of people in this country have no interest in being entrepreneurs. Friedman writes enthusiastically about a future which will only exist when desperation forces people to have to do things to survive that they would never choose otherwise to do.

      The vast majority of people in this country prefer the comfort of a job where they can go to work, feel productive, walk away at the end of the day and bring home enough to put a roof over their family's heads, food on the table, and provide for the other necessities of life. That is the essence of the American Dream. Not hustling to make more and more money, but having the opportunity to value life and what you do outside work. Not being rich. Not hustling every day.

      Friedman and conservatives like him consistently peddle their everyone can get rich bullshit, and every solution they propose must be tailored so that is the possible result. People is teaching in public schools are not working to get rich. The same goes for the vast majority of people diving bulldozers, framing houses, assembling cars, putting out fires, nursing or practically every other job.

      But to Friedman and his ilk, those who are not motivated by riches, and who do not seek them, are inferior, and they are not interesting in offering solutions that would perpetuate values that are completely anathema to those Friedman and his serious circle of influential friends hold.

      Unfortunately, as long as those setting economic policy believe, like Friedman, that all people should be possessed with the desire of riches and total self reliance, and have the goal of getting rich as their motivation, then the vast majority of people in the country are screwed.

      •  The right-wing always throws this out (13+ / 0-)

        every time there is a recession.
        "If those lazy so-and-so poor would get off their asses and become businessmen there wouldn't be an unemployment problem."
           As if 1) an economy would even work when everyone is doing this, 2) that everyone is capable of doing this, 3) and if a recession is the right time to do this.

        None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

        by gjohnsit on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 09:59:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Neoliberal idiocy as well... (5+ / 0-)

          Clearly, anyone can walk into a bank with an idea and get a loan to buy raw materials for a business and provide food, clothing and shelter for themselves until the business is making enough money to provide those necessities and pay off the loan.

          As Mittens said, borrow from your parents who are on social security and are getting that cut.  Yeah, that will work.

          It is part of the mainstream economic assumption that money is nothing more than a lubricant for commerce, and therefore can be ignored.  By ignoring it clearly anyone can become an entrepreneur because you don't need money to make something and therefore can make something or offer your services for something else.  So, all the poor people with no money can simply exchange services with each other.

      •  Precisely. (9+ / 0-)
        The vast, vast majority of people in this country have no interest in being entrepreneurs.
        Friedman also forgets that there is so much work that absolutely needs to be done, yet which wouldn't be profitable in the purely entrepreneurial framework he envisions.   Addressing problems such as climate change, for example - how does one support the necessary science and engineering for such a massive collective effort on the fly?  Even such more immediate concerns such as fire fighting or maintaining streets and bridges just aren't going to be workable. What are we all supposed to do - should each of us advertise on Ebay and then go out there with our own garden hoses or a wheelbarrow and a bag of cement?

        A related problem is that if we're each going to need to subsist on sporadic income from a half-dozen mini-jobettes, that's going to eat up so much of our time and energy that it will be difficult for most people to maintain any sort of permanent profession on a regular basis.  And then what happens to our complex society, which absolutely depends upon people working in such professions to function?

        If conditions are really getting this bad, perhaps it's time to consider a guaranteed minimum income for everyone.  So instead of people having to continually worry about scrabbling to earn pin money to keep going, they would have a solid floor upon which they could rely whenever they didn't have a secure job.  Of course, fund this program through increased taxes on the wealthy. They could consider that compensation they pay in order to keep their own customer base intact and to keep ordinary people from eventually rising up against them.

        FOX News: For entertainment purposes only. Not to be confused with actual news broadcasting.

        by IowaBiologist on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:38:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you (6+ / 0-)
        Friedman and conservatives like him consistently peddle their everyone can get rich bullshit, and every solution they propose must be tailored so that is the possible result. People is teaching in public schools are not working to get rich. The same goes for the vast majority of people diving bulldozers, framing houses, assembling cars, putting out fires, nursing or practically every other job.

        But to Friedman and his ilk, those who are not motivated by riches, and who do not seek them, are inferior, and they are not interesting in offering solutions that would perpetuate values that are completely anathema to those Friedman and his serious circle of influential friends hold.

        Thanks to jerks like Friedman, and his more obnoxious fellow travelers on Fox and talk radio, a lot of people look down their noses at people who work for others. A lot of small businesspeople don't see themselves as part of the community, they think they are Job Creators who must be worshipped by the commoners.

        Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

        by Dirtandiron on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:50:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The term Job Creator has always seemed (6+ / 0-)

          so imbecilic that I could never understand how it so swiftly became an accepted terminology that subs for "employers" or "company" or "owners."

          I just noticed that the initials for Job Creator is JC. Is it possible it's some kind of dog-whistle? I know some RWNJ politicians have been previously chided for larding their public comments with odd language that is only understood with the secret decoder ring.

          “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

          by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 11:11:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I was recently daydreaming (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          IowaBiologist, Dirtandiron

          about interviewing a bunch of CEO's, pretending I was writing a book about their stories, stroking their egos, only to publish an expose on how worthless and full of shit they are.

          One of my questions was "how are you making the world a better place?  What is your contribution?"  In other words, "how do you justify making so much goddamned money?"

          I thought of people who save lives on a daily basis - how much do they make?
          Teachers, who build and shape the people of tomorrow...
          Me (architect) who designs structures that people raise families in... there are a dozen or so children out there spending their childhoods in rooms and homes that I designed specifically for them.
          Public transport workers, who keep whole economies functioning
          Factory workers, and anyone who has skills to build things.
          Scientists, people who find cures for diseases
          And on and on and on....

          All of these people make (much) less money than Jamie Dimon, and I'd just like Mr. Dimon's opinion on what it is that he does that is so goddamned special and necessary that he should make the ungodly amounts of money that he does.

          "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

          by La Gitane on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:06:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  The Lords who (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dirtandiron, Reepicheep

          do the bidding of their King.

          I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

          by CFAmick on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:44:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Yup - people who want to be entrepreneurs (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CharlieHipHop

        do so.   They don't do it because they have to, because they can't find work.  They do it even if they already have jobs, they don't need "incentivized" by the possibility of starvation or homelessness.

      •  GREAT comment (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        IowaBiologist

        Absolutely agree.  I've been on my own for ten years now, and it is totally the right thing for me.

        My BF is one of the casualties of the UI non-extension, and we have had this discussion.  I suggest ideas on how he could use his skills to consult on an hourly basis, at least until he gets a permanent gig.

        He's not against the idea, and agrees it's better than nothing and might even lead to a job, but he's very adamant about how different he is from me - that working on his own would be extremely uncomfortable for him.

        It's true - it's not for everyone.  I'm one of a handful of people I know that work for myself.

        One should only start their own business because they want to - not because they will starve if they don't.  That is not a healthy profit motive by any standard.

        "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

        by La Gitane on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 11:53:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I remember Cheney peddling this same (0+ / 0-)

        crap. "Entrepreneurship" is their mantra.

        "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

        by Lily O Lady on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:04:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Part of the fuel to this (0+ / 0-)

        is that Friedman et. al. truly believe that outside of owning a specific creative talent or athletic skill, you're not worthy of becoming rich unless you're exploiting other people. If you're busy being a micro-preneur, you're not busy organizing capital structures and labor forces required to become rich.

        I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

        by CFAmick on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:43:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Nailed it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Reepicheep

      He does write like a non-clever Mad Lib.

      They tell me I'm pretty amusing from time to time working with 140 characters or less.

      by CharlieHipHop on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:27:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would call it the "Survival Economy" (27+ / 0-)

    which is a result of people asking - "What can I do or what assets can I convert when there are no actual jobs?"

    And I think it is true that when actual jobs are not being provided by large companies who prefer to have their money make money as opposed to their products making money we will continue to devolve and go further and further down this road.

    The sheer raw brutality of the new jobless economy IS driving people to rent out rooms in their houses in order to keep their houses and pay their mortgage. It could be considered symbiotic in a way since it is partially helping to fill the void of finding affordable shelter for the people renting the rooms.

    Anyway, here is a link to one of my suggestions for the jobless economy:

    A Nation Of Dog Walkers

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 08:22:07 AM PST

  •  Cab drivers conspiracy. (28+ / 0-)

    Cab driver A: Hey, I got Friedman today.
    Cab driver B: No kidding, what did you tell him this time?
    Cab driver A: I told him letting neighbors borrow your tools in the new trend with young, hip urbanites.
    Cab driver A: Good one.

    "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

    by Reepicheep on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 08:25:21 AM PST

  •  that's why I got out of the taxi business (14+ / 0-)

    ride services have a definite advantage - they dispatch on commission (you don't ride they don't get paid; with a taxi company if you don't ride the company gets paid anyway) but the driver supplies his own car - so the recently-believes-he's-poor are fighting the really-no-doubt-about-it poor for table scraps. The more we take it the less they let us have, and the more we fight each other instead of them. Get a brain morans! (yes I see the red underline)

  •  I am one of those who rents out 2 rooms (22+ / 0-)

    in my home. I personally feel the benefits outweigh the negatives, because I lived alone in a home for about 10 years. It is kind of a waste to have that space go unused. Although I really had to think about making that step for a few years. Finally, the economics of the situation were such that I risked losing my home, which I didn't want to do.

    I had a couple of people I threw out, but I enjoy having the company and really like my house mates. And the income is certainly nice.

    At the time when I first started renting, I was also under employed. Working at a grocery store and unable to get more than about 20 hours per week at eight something an hour, despite my requesting additional hours on a regular basis. I was an excellent worker, but that did not matter. I really feel for people in that situation.

    But I agree 100% that the ridiculous level of income equality is unsustainable and morally wrong. People in these low paying jobs work very hard, as I know from personal experience and deserve much more.

  •  Starving the Beast is a good thing. (9+ / 0-)

    One problem in our economy is that the financial industry manages to collect a piece of any economic action that takes place.  Wall Street needs some starving, and microentrepeneurs are doing just that.

    Under the traditional model of hotel management, travellers pay money to spend a night in a room that's (badly) cleaned by exploited people and a large part of the money spent goes to overpaid CEOs and large investors.  The CEO gets millions, the maid gets $7.50/hour and the traveller gets bedbugs.  

    Under the AirBnB system, the traveller spends money in a room that's cleaned by the person who owns it and who gets to keep more than three cents on the dollar of the value he/she adds to the service.  

    Working as a "cleaning lady" is tough.  My grandmother did it for minimum wage.  Historically, white ethnic women had few other choices, so they glutted the field driving wages down.  The situation for African-American women was even worse.  The situation for undocumented workers is still grim in states where they make a large portion of the population.  

    On the other hand, compare the experience of a Barbara Ehrenreich who earned $11/hour cleaning for a firm with that of the lady who cleaned my (disabled) neighbor's house for $50 for an hour's work, or the coworker who got $190 every other weekend for a few hours of office cleaning.  Please note that Ms. Ehrenreich allowed that her employer was unusually good, but she earned her pay in a high-cost area and they area I live in is infamous for crappy wages.

    When disability forced me to forgo mowing the lawn, my family hired a young man next door who got $50 for two hours' work (we provided gas);  in the local oligopoly he would be lucky to get $10/hour of the $50 that his boss would charge had he worked for a landscaping firm.  The landscaping firms had formidable equipment, but that would just mean that he made $90 for his boss and $10 for himself in one hour instead of $50 all for himself in two hours, minus some pennies for equipment depreciation.  

    My small metro area is seeing a boom in microfarmers:  people who raise chickens for eggs or have very large gardens whose produce they sell.  Individual farmers butcher and sell animals that they raise by hand.  While prices are higher than factory farm outputs, they are cheaper than Whole Foods and of higher quality.  That Monsanto and Wall Street don't get their cut is a bonus.

    This system has disadvantages.  The hours for self-employment vary greatly, which exposes the worker to a fickle standard of living.  Should a field of endeavor be perceived as lucrative for unskilled workers, that field risks being oversubscribed.  Consumers risk dealing with fly-by-night operators for large tasks.  It's relatively easy for service providers to avoid income and sales tax.  

    On the other hand, if a microentrepeneur has multiple clients, so losing a client is not as disastrous as losing a job; jobs these days are not very stable.  Fly-by-night operators are avoided by talking to previous clients.  If it's somewhat easy for service providers to avoid income tax, it's even easier for large corporations to do so.  

    "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

    by Yamaneko2 on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 08:57:47 AM PST

    •  But the Giant Leech On Us All (4+ / 0-)

      Every single product bought and or sold has the real estate leech sucking the life out of any value.

      The real estate boom created by the biggest free money giveaway in history.  Lower interest rates made money cheap, and in the end, simply caused the price of the commodity to go up accordingly.  So that $60,000 house at 12% APR became a $120,000 house at 6% APR, then a $240,000 house at 3% APR.  Never to be paid off, never subjected to inflation so the monthly bank take is every bit as painful 20 years into the loan as it was 1 year into the loan.

      •  exactly right and on the money. (3+ / 0-)

        The cheap interest rates actually hurt Americans by creating the false equity that many withdrew to use their houses as the source of funds that the real economy and jobs weren't providing.

        The housing inflation also obscured the fact of what was happening in the macroeconomy - Americans felt rich when they looked at their personal balance sheets because they saw real estate equity filling the gap that was not being provided by raises in salary.

        Then at the end of the run-up, they are left upside down and with stagnate wages, a lose/lose.

        Interest is the only part of the equation that a consumer has control over. Even if you bought the 60K house at 12%, you did have the option of artificially lowering the interest by paying more on principle which effectively lowered the rate.

        “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

        by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 09:42:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  In The End, It's Always The Principal (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peptabysmal, Phoebe Loosinhouse

          No matter what the interest rate, the principal still needs to be paid off.  Sorry, that $60,000 Carter era home at 12% would be a hell of a lot easier and faster to get ahead of by paying a little extra every month.

          I see this EXACT same marketing and usury logic in automobile ads now, $50,000+ top of the line German and Japanese luxury cars marketed to wage slaves on the bluest of blue collar programming.  Can't afford it, just lease it and never hold the title to anything you've slaved to pay for for the rest of your life.  The lessons of the depression are lost.

          •  We are in agreement. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JohnnySacks

            And believe it or not, my first house followed closely the price/interest arc you described.

            I too am saying a higher interest rate and lower price for the house is the preferred scenario, because while you can never alter what you paid initially, you can alter the real rate of interest by paying a little extra.

            People who are "upside down and trapped in their houses right now are in that position because they paid an inflated price to begin with or the tapped equity and got to the same place through other means. The current low interest or the low interest they paid at the time of purchase does zip to extricate them when they need to get out of the house.

            “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

            by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:46:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Except for one problem... (0+ / 0-)

              Most Americans are homeowners, and their home is their main vehicle of investment.  They do NOT want to see the value of their homes fall.  

              Large areas of the country, particularly in the Midwest and the South, missed the real estate bubble.  You can buy a 3-bedroom home in my area in a decent neighborhood with top-rated schools for under $100,000.  Compromise on the high school (settle for average), enjoy top-flight elementary schools and the home can be had for $70,000.  

              I earn $20,000/year, so the $70,000 home would cost about $420/month at 5% with 5% down and 1% PMI.      

              "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

              by Yamaneko2 on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 12:51:51 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Let's not forget the other side, either (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Phoebe Loosinhouse, JohnnySacks

          The bank used to have to use deposits to back the money it loaned.  Depositors got 5 percent or more in a savings account, up to 9-10 percent in a CD.

          Now they get free money from the Fed at zero interest and loan it out at three percent.  The loans are bigger, no pesky depositors to pay -- what's not to like!

          It's a total scam.  Every time a banker makes a loan, they're, in effect, minting coin which is supposed to be the purview of Congress.

          They tell me I'm pretty amusing from time to time working with 140 characters or less.

          by CharlieHipHop on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:45:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  And when savings pay no interest, people (0+ / 0-)

            are literally forced into the stock market. I believe that is the whole point.

            “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

            by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:47:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  (Excuse My Principal/Interest Logic) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Phoebe Loosinhouse

        Oversimplified to the extreme but needed a quick and simple way to make my point...

  •  The underground economy is flourishing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Horace Boothroyd III

    which may account for more and more people disappearing from the "official" jobs market.

    The shadow economy has doubled since the last recession (2008) and is now estimated to be 2 trillion dollars. This covert infusion of cash has given support to the regular economy and accounts for the anomaly of lower official employment combined with increased retail sales.

    •  I call bullsh*t (0+ / 0-)
      The shadow economy has doubled since the last recession (2008) and is now estimated to be 2 trillion dollars. This covert infusion of cash has given support to the regular economy and accounts for the anomaly of lower official employment combined with increased retail sales
       First of all, you don't bother to try and back up your assertion, and studies done by the Fed and others don't even bother to try and claim this.

      None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

      by gjohnsit on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:01:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sheesh. How about, "I disagree"? nt (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Claudius Bombarnac, La Gitane
        •  Re: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Don midwest, lunachickie

          OK. Maybe I could have said "I don't believe you", but "I disagree" would imply that I believe there might be some merit to his claim rather than something created out of thin air.

          None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

          by gjohnsit on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:37:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I could also call bullshit on your comment (5+ / 0-)

            but that would imply you are a complete fucking asshole so I won't.

            The Underground Recovery
            The Financial Page
            by James Surowiecki April 29, 2013

            When we all finished filing our tax returns last week, there was a little something missing: two trillion dollars. That’s how much money Americans may have made in the past year that didn’t get reported to the I.R.S., according to a recent study by the economist Edgar Feige, who’s been investigating the so-called underground, or gray, economy for thirty-five years. It’s a huge number: if the government managed to collect taxes on all that income, the deficit would be trivial. This unreported income is being earned, for the most part, not by drug dealers or Mob bosses but by tens of millions of people with run-of-the-mill jobs—nannies, barbers, Web-site designers, and construction workers—who are getting paid off the books. Ordinary Americans have gone underground, and, as the recovery continues to limp along, they seem to be doing it more and more.

            $2 Trillion Shadow Economy Not Counted in Jobs Numbers
            By Lauren Lyster
            July 5, 2013

            One explanation economists give is demographics: the baby boomers are retiring. And then there is the obvious explanation of a tough economy, with people going back to school to re-train or dropping out of the workforce because they are discouraged.

            But one $2 trillion part of the equation that's missing is the growing shadow economy: A grey market made up of people who aren’t on the official payrolls but are finding ways to get by nonetheless.

            “It’s important to note this is not the illegal economy,” Yahoo! Finance senior columnist Rick Newman tells The Daily Ticker. “We’re talking about people who are doing legitimate work that would be ordinary work if it were taxed, but they’re getting paid in cash.”

            So this work is under the table and it’s not taxed as wages would be, and these folks are also not counted in the monthly jobs numbers.
            ...

            This underground economy is not something new. Robert Neuwirth stated back in 2011 that people have been resorting to an underground economy as a way to achieve the "American Dream" rather than through traditional employment. It is a global phenomenon
            .
            Rise of the Shadow Economy: Second Largest Economy in the World
            11/07/2011
            ...
            In a recent article for Foreign Policy magazine, Robert Neuwirth argues that “the $10 trillion global black market is the world’s fastest growing economy — and its future”. Neuwirth discusses that the phrase “System D” comes from a slang phrase used in French-speaking Africa and the Caribbean. The “D” stands for the French word “debrouillard”. Neuwirth: “To say a man is a debrouillard is to tell people how resourceful and ingenious he is.” Thus, self-starting entrepreneurs who go out on their own for business purposes without being regulated by bureaucracy and/or without paying taxes are part of “l’economie de la debrouillardise”, or “Systeme D” on the street.

            According to Neuwirth, System D was once small with simple street merchants. In time, trade within System D has globalized and expanded. Neuwirth claims that System D is now where the jobs are.

            Though being the black market, System D is not limited to the likes of Tony Soprano, Michael Corleone, and Rico Bandello. In comparing System D to the US market, Neuwirth claims that “kids selling lemonade from the sidewalk in front of their houses are part of System D”. As are vendors at flea markets, roadside farm stands, and swap meets. Neuwirth writes that System D is a global phenomenon, transporting products across the planet ranging from machinery to computers to mobile phones.
            ...
            Neuwirth contends that System D is the wave of the future for the global economy. From street selling to unlicensed trade to compensation under-the-table, many workers are off the grid. According to Neuwirth, System D is opening up the economy and providing new opportunities for those seeking income through labor.

            Though the black market has historically been cast in a negative light, Neuwirth believes that System D is giving workers an avenue to embrace their entrepreneurial spirit. Neuwirth: “Even in the most difficult and degraded situation, System D merchants are seeking to better their lives.”
            ...

            •  Every country has at least 5% of its economy (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gjohnsit

              underground. 15% is pretty high for a rich country like US.

              •  According to the IMF, the shadow economy is huge (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                FG

                Keep in mind that the following figures are from 2006 and many have doubled (especially in the US) since then.

                Out of the Shadows
                International Monetary Fund
                Finance & Development,
                June 2012

                Governments are wise to shrink their underground economy by improving institutions to build inclusive growth
                ...
                Pluses and minuses

                Large underground economies pose multiple problems for policymaking. Weak institutions and a large informal sector can interact in a vicious cycle to further undermine the quality of institutions that govern and encourage economic activity—the rule of law, absence of corruption, and minimization of unnecessary regulatory burden.

                Moreover, large informal economies render official statistics unreliable and incomplete, complicating informed policymaking. And limited participation in the formal economy implies that the benefits of a formal economy—such as property rights protection, access to credit markets, and adequate labor standards—may not be widely accessible. That in turn discourages economic growth and denies economic opportunities to many.

                On a more positive note, the informal sector has an important role to play, especially in developing economies, where it may be viewed as the nursery of future economic growth in the formal economy. It serves as an important buffer against economic uncertainty and underdevelopment in the formal sector by providing livelihood to large segments of the population. Indeed, informal economies are much larger in poor and emerging countries than in richer countries.
                ...
                How deep?

                Estimating the size of the informal economy is difficult, given that the very purpose of operating underground is often to avoid detection, and countries may lack the capacity to monitor underground activity. Although there are no direct measures of the size and composition of the underground economy, a number of indirect methods exist, including extrapolating from the excess demand for cash, unaccounted-for consumption of electricity, or labor market trends. These indirect approaches to measuring the size of the shadow economy suggest it is sizable in many countries (see map).

            •  Don't be flirting now (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lunachickie

              Other people might get jealous.

              you are a complete fucking asshole
              I've read your links, and they are still bullsh*t for increadibly obvious reasons.
                 For instance, the I.R.S. claims that $2 Trillion of income was unreported.
              I'm not going to deny that. What I am going to call bullsh*t on is the assumptions that these articles draw upon.
                Namely:

              1) that this income isn't from illegal means. The illegal drug trade ALONE is a $500 Billion business. That doesn't count human trafficking, prostitution, and other illegal transactions.
                 And does that untaxed income include tax avoidable measures by the wealthy? Your articles do not say.
                 So this claim, that is NOT backed up in your article should be taken with a grain of salt.

              This unreported income is being earned, for the most part, not by drug dealers or Mob bosses but by tens of millions of people with run-of-the-mill jobs—nannies, barbers, Web-site designers, and construction workers—who are getting paid off the books.
              In fact, from your other article it says unreported wages was actually only $500 Billion, and only about 25% more than it was in 2006 and 2001.
                 Since this is nominal numbers, most of that increase can be attributed to inflation.

              2) You should follow your links out. You managed to find several articles that talk about how great this is, but one of you articles, using another article as a source, had this to say.

               "People are running out of patience when it comes to finding a job and losing income," Gonzalez said. "So it's not that surprising to have workers take jobs that are in the shadow economy. But it's a sign of how bad things are and how we have to get the real economy moving again."
              Which actually is a rather obvious statement to anyone that works for a living today.

              None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

              by gjohnsit on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 11:56:02 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You have not backed up any of your assertions (0+ / 0-)
                And does that untaxed income include tax avoidable measures by the wealthy?
                That is an even larger amount and has been going on for decades. BTW, the extremely wealthy do not work for wages in case you didn't know.
                Trillions hidden in tax havens by super-rich, corporations
                30 May 2013

                The ultra-wealthy, banks and corporations from around the globe have some $32 trillion of wealth hidden in off-shore tax havens, according to a cache of information leaked by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in April of this year.

                The hidden wealth, consisting mostly of financial assets and bank accounts but also including assets like mansions and yachts, amounts to 44 percent of world GDP, or $4,600 for every person on earth.

                This amount is nearly triple the figure of $11.5 trillion from 2005. Taxation justice activist groups previously estimated, although lacking direct proof, that the figure was between $20 trillion and $30 trillion.

                Some 2.5 million leaked files trace the outlines of a largely secret section of the world economy. The files were reviewed and published in a sprawling report by the ICIJ, a watchdog organization reporting on corruption and accountability, after over a year of research.
                ...

                In fact, from your other article it says unreported wages was actually only $500 Billion, and only about 25% more than it was in 2006 and 2001.
                Nice try at obfuscation. You need to reread the article. The IRS states it is lost tax revenue - not wages
                the IRS cites lost tax revenue because of unreported wages at about $500 billion for last year.
                  Since this is nominal numbers, most of that increase can be attributed to inflation.
                Complete nonsense. Look up the US inflation rate for that period.
                2) You should follow your links out. You managed to find several articles that talk about how great this is, but one of you articles, using another article as a source, had this to say.

                Which actually is a rather obvious statement to anyone that works for a living today.

                Straw man. Nowhere did I say this was "great". I simply posted that there is a flourishing shadow economy that explains the current economic and employment situation.

                More from that link which I DID read before I posted (unlike yourself).

                Shadow economies are usually associated with illegal activity, such as drug dealing. But anecdotal evidence indicates that off-the-books work in today's job market includes personal and domestic workers, such as housekeepers and nannies.

                "The jobs are in service industries from small food establishments to landscaping." said David Fiorenza, an economy professor at Villanova University. "Even the arts and culture industry is not immune to working off the books in areas of music and entertainment."

                It also includes firms that hire hourly or day construction labor, information technology specialists and Web designers. Many who have a job that doesn't pay enough take another one that pays under the table.

                "We've always had people who make income without recording it, so it's not really new," said Peter McHenry, an assistant professor of economics at William & Mary College. "But the fact that more and more people are doing it shows how bad the job picture is," he added.

                Here's more sources for you.

                http://www.businessweek.com/...

                http://www.bloomberg.com/...

                http://www.usnews.com/...

                http://www.alternet.org/...

      •  I don't (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mattc129

        I've been living in it off and on since 2010, and I have a few friends doing the same.

        Once you hit 50, your ability to find a "traditional job" plummets. Don't be so hasty to discredit this.

        This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

        by lunachickie on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 11:55:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Then let's call it what it is (2+ / 0-)
          Once you hit 50, your ability to find a "traditional job" plummets.
          I will soon be 50, so believe me when I say that I take your statement seriously.
             My problem is with how this is being presented - as a statement of strength in the economy. That workers are simply "opting out" of the regular economy and going to something "better".
            Mostly, the claim that the economy is "better than it is being reported", and this is the proof is what pisses me off.

            It's a lie.

          "People are running out of patience when it comes to finding a job and losing income," Gonzalez said. "So it's not that surprising to have workers take jobs that are in the shadow economy. But it's a sign of how bad things are and how we have to get the real economy moving again."

          None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

          by gjohnsit on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:03:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agreed (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gjohnsit

            but I don't know that the poster you replied to was trying to fluff the hell out of it, at least not on first reading.

            He certainly wasn't aping Friedman here...

            This covert infusion of cash has given support to the regular economy and accounts for the anomaly of lower official employment combined with increased retail sales.
            It is a covert infusion of cash of sorts (though how covert remains to be seen--if the IRS can find it, it ain't covert, but I digress there). And it would seem to account for the anomaly of "lower official unemployment" vs. things like "retail sales".

            But on reading the links proffered, I tend to lean more your way, in terms of "how it's being reported" overall. To begin with, I don't find Yahoo Finance credible for any reason whatsoever...

             

            This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

            by lunachickie on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:19:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Shadow economy has doubled... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lunachickie

              also sounds as impressive as heck, but if people do the occasional odd job and net $100 unreported shadow cash, then 'double' that to $200 the next year... they still are nowhere near able to live on it.

              It's more simply that people are scrabbling for any possible income source they can find.

              (And I'd note that I report the cash I make as cash during the year, and it's a major pain in the ass to report income you don't have a W-2 for.  Last year, even though I didn't want the EIC, and specifically noted I wanted $0 in refund from treasury, I ended up having to file on paper rather than electronically, because I couldn't 'verify' the piddling amount of income I had.  Then the IRS wrote me back to tell me I'd 'made a mistake' in filing, and I had to phone them, only to be told simply to ignore it, and they'd disallow the EIC and all would be well.  Except, instead, some overzealous IRS person decided I should get the EIC even without any proof submitted, and sent me a check for $25, which I refuse to cash, since I don't intend to have anybody come back at me for taking money for the EIC when I provided no 'proof of income'.)

            •  Clarification and more links for you links (0+ / 0-)
              It is a covert infusion of cash of sorts (though how covert remains to be seen--if the IRS can find it, it ain't covert, but I digress there).
              If you are curious as to how the size of the shadow economy was calculated:

              IMF - Shadow Economies Around the World: Size, Causes, and Consequences (pdf)

              But on reading the links proffered, I tend to lean more your way, in terms of "how it's being reported" overall. To begin with, I don't find Yahoo Finance credible for any reason whatsoever...
              Every major media has reported on the shadow economy and it's ramifications since the recent recession.
              http://www.businessweek.com/...

              More Americans Work in the Underground Economy

              http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

              The $2 trillion shadow economy is the recession’s big winner

              http://www.usnews.com/...

              The New Underground Economy

              http://www.forbes.com/...

              Rise of the Shadow Economy: Second Largest Economy in the World

              http://www.bloomberg.com/...

              Shadow Economy Shows Joblessness Less Than Meets U.S. Eye
              If that is not sufficient then you can google
              "the American shadow economy" for a few thousand more.
  •  Micro-entrepreneurship (9+ / 0-)

    I can think of some other words for it, but this is a family blog.

    Like all the other serfs, I'm raking in the cash on eBay.

    New car, caviar, four star daydream, think I'll buy me a football team . . .

    •  EBay being Dick Cheney's explanation (4+ / 0-)

      of why the economy was better than the official statistics would make it appear.

      I never sold on Ebay - my understanding is that Ebay upped the fees so much and favored buyers so much in buyer/seller disputes that it stopped making sense for many sellers except for the really big ones.

      I thought the concept of the Ebay intermediary store made sense although the profit margin had to be very small. How much money can be milked from selling a used item?

      “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

      by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 09:17:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tom Friedman's Wife (20+ / 0-)

    Is the heir to a billion-dollar real estate fortune. He lives in one of the largest private homes in the DC area. Presumably, the dozen or so bedrooms in it are rented out actively on AirBnb.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 09:08:44 AM PST

  •  A big part of globalization and all the so called (5+ / 0-)

    free trade agreements has been the regression to the mean of the global wage scale.  For now, the 1% and the .01% don't feel the impart of that, but the middle income working class is being crushed in the US and as that happens so are the towns and cities.  Detroit is an extreme example due to many crazy practices, but all the rest are in distress regardless of fiscal prudence.  The declining tax base can no longer support the middle income salaries of government employees.

    Add to that the declining need for any sort of employee due to automation and you see the need for higher taxes on higher incomes and a guaranteed income floor under everyone.

    •  It is worth pointing out (0+ / 0-)

      that Detroit was suckered into an interest rate swap deal, that the city was led to believe would ease their debt. Instead, Detroit ended up saddled with even more interest payments.  The TBTF's peddled this crap "financial product" to the city the same way they peddled sub-prime mortgages to people who qualified for standard loans.  I'm not saying Detroit didn't already have problems, just that these sharks circled in and made it worse.  

      "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

      by Reepicheep on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 05:51:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Having alternatives is fine. (16+ / 0-)

    Celebrating a reduced standard of living is another thing entirely.  

    I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 09:13:17 AM PST

  •  T&Red (11+ / 0-)

    because there can't be too many "Tom Friedman is an idiot" diaries on the rec list.

    The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

    by raboof on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 09:13:45 AM PST

  •  So, Mr. Friedman, where does this all end? (10+ / 0-)

    It's bad enough that you gloss up our decline into Third-World-type subsistence into the the hottest, most innovative trends of our most hip and enterprising young people.  Smart Serfdom - it's the latest thing!  But what's worse is that you don't critically examine the economic trends that are driving us into such privation.  Instead, you're just blissfully gibbering about how this is just another career trend, while letting the robbers in the multinational financial-corporate world get off the hook scot-free.

    Here's something I can envision if such trends continue to their ultimate conclusion:  Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist, realizing that even writing a weekly editorial for a major newspaper doesn't quite pay the bills any more, waxes ecstatic over his second job picking tomatoes in Immokalee, Florida.  "It's a challenge sometimes," Friedman admits, "and frustrating at times to have to get up at 4 a.m. and then not get chosen to be a part of a work crew that day.  But even so, it gives me a unique opportunity to interview so many of my fellow workers and write upbeat columns on how they creatively manage to make a living under conditions that most of us would consider marginal or perhaps even unendurable."

    FOX News: For entertainment purposes only. Not to be confused with actual news broadcasting.

    by IowaBiologist on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 09:17:13 AM PST

    •  It ends with an increasingly smaller percentage (8+ / 0-)

      holding a greater and greater amount of the world's wealth.

      (I see millions of pitchforks and torches on the horizon.)

      Obscene wealth: World’s 85 richest have same wealth as 3.5 billion poorest – Oxfam

      The world’s 85 wealthiest people have as much money as the 3.5 billion poorest people on the planet – half the Earth’s population. That’s according to Oxfam’s latest report on the risks of the widening gap between the super-rich and the poor.

      The report, titled “Working for the Few,” was released Monday, and was compiled by Oxfam – an international organization looking for solutions against poverty and injustice.

      The document focuses on the extent of global economic inequality caused by rapidly increasing wealth of the richest people that poses the threat to the “human progress.”

      A total of 210 people became billionaires last year, joining the existing 1,426 billionaires with a combined net worth of $5.4 trillion.

       "Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown," the report stated.

      Also, according to the Oxfam data, the richest 1 percent of people across the globe have $110 trillion, or 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the planet’s population – which effectively “presents significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems.”

      “It is staggering that, in the 21st century, half of the world’s population — that’s three and a half billion people — own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all fit comfortably on a double-decker bus,” Oxfam chief executive Winnie Byanyima told a news conference.

      •  To then be followed by... (0+ / 0-)

        yet another inane Thomas Friedman column in which he gets all starry-eyed about the growing market for pitchforks and torches.  "Amazingly, it has become the newest and fastest-growing cottage industry! Let us discuss the implications of this new trend with respect to our flat world.  People are coming for - no, wait a minute, this can't be - they're coming for me!"

        FOX News: For entertainment purposes only. Not to be confused with actual news broadcasting.

        by IowaBiologist on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:39:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sure, Friedman like AirBnb now (9+ / 0-)

    But if it ever really takes off and starts to make a noticeable impact on Hotel chain revenues you will see Mr Friedman's friends the Republicans pass some laws to inhibit it.

    After all, we are now a nation "Of the people, by the corporate politicians, for the corporations"©.

    The nine most terrifying words in the english language . . . "I'm George Bush, we're here to liberate your country"

    by TiredOfGOPLies on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 09:46:08 AM PST

  •  New career: selling stuff on eBay (4+ / 0-)

    I recently did a diary about how the unemployment numbers were masking the real problems in the labor market.
       Someone on DKos responded that it meant people were "working" by doing stuff like selling things on eBay or day trading on eTrade. As if this made it all OK.

      Even on DKos there are people who buy this insanity.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 09:55:00 AM PST

    •  Gone to a Goodwill lately? (4+ / 0-)

      I live about 4 blocks from one.

      Usually go about 2x a week, sometimes more, weather permitting. Several years ago you'd see people shopping for clothes and things they need, along with some folks who were looking for that 'treasure' to sell on E-bay.

      Now, it seems like most of the people who go there are resellers looking for 'bargains'.

      What used to be hobby for some has become a way of survival with many people looking for anything they may get an extra couple of for bucks on the resale market. This includes stuff like small appliances, electronic stuff-even shoes.

      I see the same faces w/the same 'hungry' look, and they stay there for hours waiting for the fresh carts of 'goodies' to come out of the back room-to get the first 'grab'. It sometimes gets nasty.

      Just guessing if they are a part of the 'new unemployed or underemployed'.

      Yay for the 'new economy'. People scrounging at thrift stores etc...for survival. The new 'Gleaners'.

      •  Kinda like real estate flippers (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gjohnsit, peptabysmal

        that inflate market values.

        I've known so many people that would have preferred to buy their own "fixer upper", save the money and do the work themselves.  But the flippers get there first, do the work cheap and fast, down and dirty, and then sell the house for $100k more.  The buyers get a house with cheap cabinets, floors and plumbing, and pay more for it.

        I see the same thing with thrift vs. "vintage" shops.  I've never been much of a thrifter, but I know plenty of people who are.  And the ebay thing....  it's sad.  Goodwill used to be a place where the poor could buy things they needed.  Now it's a scavenger hunt.

        "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

        by La Gitane on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:19:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It makes one wonder (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peptabysmal

        how things will look in a few months, now that unemployment benefits and food stamps have been cut?
           Just because someone is selling apples on the street (or things on eBay, the modern equivalent), does not mean a better labor market. It means the opposite.

          This should be rather obvious, but some people don't analyze the spin.

        None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

        by gjohnsit on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:20:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  They had micro-entreprenuers in the old days too (9+ / 0-)

    They were called "bandits" and "pirates".

    If current trends continue, people like Mr. Friedman may be unpleasantly surprised at some of the innovative solutions people come up with to survive.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:02:02 AM PST

  •  I thought the world was flat. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, La Gitane

    Now he wants me to look at it as a "sharing" economy?  He needs to make up his mind.

    Human dignity + compassion = Peace (Anonymous)

    by Raggedy Ann on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:04:39 AM PST

  •  Hmm, I have a spare bedroom (5+ / 0-)

    But not sure I'm entirely comfortable with the idea of someone being in my house with my husband and I.  I could of course add a lock onto our bedroom, but they'd still then have access to the liquor cabinet, the fridge, could take our 60" TV, etc...but theoretically I could do so to make some extra cash ;)

    Republican threats amount to destroying the present if we don't allow them to destroy the future too. -MinistryOfTruth, 1/1/2013

    by sleipner on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:06:03 AM PST

  •  You see this every time there's a recession (9+ / 0-)

    Pundits start talking about "The new simplicity".

    A more correct term would be:

    "People don't have any money you stupid twit!!!!"

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:11:06 AM PST

    •  But in reality when there are recessions (3+ / 0-)

      there IS a new simplicity out of necessity.

      I'm not trying to romanticize poverty, but there is some good that may come from people realizing that perhaps they don't have to have 4000 square foot houses, or inside the egg scramblers, or whatever else they think they must have in order to be happy in a consumer society.

      As an aging hippy, it was kind of nice when people were focused on being ecologically aware and we cooked out of Recipes for A Small Planet and read the Whole Earth catalogue and what not. I was always amazed at how fast that ethos was thrown in the trash can the day Ronald Reagan was sworn into office. It's a miracle that "Greed is Good" did not replace In God We Trust on currency on Day 1.

      “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

      by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:44:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, but that's not what Friedman is (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        IowaBiologist

        really celebrating in his "column".

        Not even close!

        people realizing that perhaps they don't have to have 4000 square foot houses, or inside the egg scramblers
        In that scenario, it would be a good thing, done willingly and/or because of personal epiphanies. In that scenario, necessity isn't always the overriding factor or the deciding factor.

        Now, does someone with a 4000-sq.ft house rent out rooms in their large homes? I'm sure they do, but the majority of them are no doubt doing so simply so they don't lose their house.

        Please, please don't conflate these things!  

        This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

        by lunachickie on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:02:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I don't recall my grandparents (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        La Gitane, Reepicheep

        reminiscing fondly about those wonderful days of the Great Depression.

        My grandfather walked the railroad tracks to pick up pieces of coal dropped by the trains so that they could have heat.

        They cooked recipes out of the "We don't have any food" catalogue.

        If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

        by Major Kong on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:19:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm not quite sure (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador, Dirtandiron, La Gitane

    ..that Friedman's definition of "opportunity" and mine are on the same page in the dictionary.

    Buffoon.

    Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies, We were roaring drunk on petroleum -Kurt Vonnegut

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:13:38 AM PST

  •  I have always seen these lower level "jobs" as... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, Reepicheep

    even lower than you can go with fast food or big box jobs...

    There are those who say you "can" go wherever you want selling Fuller Brush, Avon, or whatever, but I say, that's only for the pyramid schemers. With regard to the other "jobs" mentioned, like cleaning, elder care, and other stuff, that is on the edge, too.

    The USA, a former jewel of the planet, heading for third-world-dumb.

    Ugh. --UB.

    "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Randian Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

    by unclebucky on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:32:03 AM PST

    •  Most people don't get paid (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IowaBiologist

      for the work they do cleaning, cooking and caring for children and elders.  That doesn't make it less valuable than paid work, or an insignificant part of the economy.  It is a bit crazy that caring for your neighbor's mother makes you a thrifty, plucky go-getter but caring for your own mother means you are unmotivated and lazy.  

      "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

      by Reepicheep on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 06:04:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Friedman and his friends in the 1% should (3+ / 0-)

    share first.

    "So listen, oh, Don't wait." Vampire Weekend.

    by Publius2008 on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:36:36 AM PST

  •  Whatever Friedman thinks about it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mattc129

    the concept of "sharing" is a good idea, even when the sharing involves cash consideration.  It provides more efficient use of scarce resources , access to goods and services that would otherwise not be available, and builds social capital.

    "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

    by Old Left Good Left on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:36:46 AM PST

    •  The reason the resources are scarce (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Phoebe Loosinhouse

      in the first place is because of the greedy folks at the top sitting on all the wealth and not circulating it. The rest of us fight over the scraps for their amusement.

      This comment is a natural product. The slight variations in spelling and grammar enhance its individual character and beauty and in no way are to be considered flaws or defects.

      by blue muon on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 03:28:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)

        I seriously doubt that the greed of folks at the top has anything to do with the fact that my neighbor has a really nice tile saw that he let's me use.

        "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

        by Old Left Good Left on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 04:19:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Part of the sharing , of course, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    is having you check out your own groceries and pump your own gasoline.

    Not to mention buy frozen cookie dough that you have to bake at home, instead of being supplied with ready-make cookies . ..  (in that vein, somebody once told me to look for cookies on my computer, but meh, I could never find them, sadly enough).

  •  Micro-Entrepeneurs? wtf? (4+ / 0-)

    It used to be selling things on eBay. That was the way the pundits wanted everyone to earn, so as not to bother any corporation with needs for a pension or benefits. I guess everyone sold everything of value. So now just rent your house out to strangers. Lovely.

    Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

    by Dirtandiron on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:40:33 AM PST

  •  As a tech employee, have to counter some points (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mconvente

    I'm a software engineer (front-end developer to be specific) for a tech startup, though not in the sharing economy space. I am a proud user of Airbnb and have enjoyed the benefits of staying with someone local as well as cheaper accommodations vs. a hotel. In May 2013 I stayed four nights in a private room in Halifax, NS for a total of $180, including Airbnb fees. Try doing that in a hotel.

    The number one problem with the sharing economy in the US is having health insurance tied to employment at a company. In that regard, I agree the sharing economy makes certain aspects of life more difficult. You could add the self-employment tax issue as well, having to predict quarterly income, and all other income intricacies that non-self-employed people have to deal with.

    But, as usual, here we have another DailyKos lambasting technology and how it affects our current economy. I swear, I don't know how Kos keeps his cool as he drags the rest of you into the future.

    •  non-self-employed people DON'T have to deal with (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mconvente

      error there

    •  There's nothing wrong with anyone (4+ / 0-)

      using or providing these services because they honestly want to.

      The point of this diary is that Friedman is celebrating this as some kind of "new economy", as if these are real options for people who used to have a regular job, profession and a paycheck.

      You don't become an "entrepreneur" because you're going to be homeless if you don't, like you have a gun to your head.  If you're renting out your room because you don't have a choice, and you wouldn't if you didn't have to, then that is not a viable "new economy" - it's called survival.

      "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

      by La Gitane on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:25:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think the word entrepreneur is over-used anyway (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        La Gitane, Reepicheep, mconvente

        And yes, I agree that in a lot of circumstances people are drifting towards these services because they don't have any other choice and need to survive.

        I wonder if there's a generational aspect involved. Maybe younger people, having never known the era of a solid job for your entire life, are embracing this economy.

        On a whole, I believe there is a large pool of untapped skills and knowledge that current healthcare policy and pricing prevent from being brought to the forefront. I think a lot more people would take self-employment risks if they could afford a quality healthcare plan on their own. I hope Obamacare makes this a reality.

  •  Look at the two shining examples Friedman uses (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoebe Loosinhouse

    Curious thing about both op-eds linked here is that both of these "21st century entrepreneurs" started their businesses out of economic desperation; joblessness, impending homelessness, staggering debt...

    If renting out rooms in your own home to total strangers is the only way you can pay your rent or mortgage, or selling all of your heirlooms or anything of value is the only way to pay the bills one more month, then these are not "middle-class entrepreneurial endeavors" as flat-earther Friedman likes to glorify them.  

    No, Mr. Friedman - these are people who are doing anything they possibly can to survive.  I know that some people using Airbnb and other "sharing economy" services are doing it truly voluntarily, and that is fine.  But for Friedman to argue, in not one but TWO op-eds, that this is some kind of new, positive step forward for our economy - that is disingenuous at best.  Sounds more like he's desperately trying to defend his gross economic theory FAIL.

    "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

    by La Gitane on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:28:58 PM PST

  •  Renting Spare Rooms isn't New (0+ / 0-)

    The only thing new about airnb is its scale. Back in 1990, before the internet, my husband and I spent our 3 week honeymoon slowly traveling from San Francisco to San Diego. We stayed in five different "bed and breakfasts" that ranged from the use of a  private house designed by a protege of Lloyd Wright's nestled in the Redwoods to a women's spare bedroom in a house located a mile from Disneyland. Amazingly this was all arranged without the benefit of computers, using just snail mail and old fashioned land-lines, thanks to an umbrella organization that provided a list of places to stay in your desired area.

  •  Friedman not only makes $40,000 per speech, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue muon, Reepicheep

    he is worth billions:

    As the July edition of the Washingtonian Magazine notes, Friedman lives in "a palatial 11,400-square-foot house, now valued at $9.3 million, on a 7½-acre parcel just blocks from I-495 and Bethesda Country Club." He "married into one of the 100 richest families in the country" - the Bucksbaums, whose real-estate Empire is valued at $2.7 billion.
    Anything and everything he has to say about "the economy" is seen through the rosiest-tinted glasses on the planet.  "How to live by J.B. Rich Boy" would be a good title for each and every one of his worthless columns.

    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

    by YucatanMan on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 01:06:29 PM PST

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