Author Topic: Precarious: One Misfortune Away from Insolvency  (Read 467 times)

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Offline Ptarmigan

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Precarious: One Misfortune Away from Insolvency
« on: May 15, 2024, 09:04:54 PM »
Precarious: One Misfortune Away from Insolvency
https://charleshughsmith.blogspot.com/2024/05/precarious-one-misfortune-away-from.html

Quote
As a result, a significant percentage of households that are considered middle-class are one misfortune away from insolvency.

We can summarize the changes in our economy over the past two generations with one word: precarity, as life for the bottom 90% of American households has become far more precarious over the past 40 years, despite the rising GDP and "wealth" as measured in phantom capital.

This reality is expressed in the portmanteau word precariat, combining proletariat (someone whose livelihood comes from their labor) and precarious: outside of government employment, work has become far more precarious. Where it was still common 40 years ago to work for a company for much or most of one's career and have a private-sector pension, now private-sector pensions have vanished, replaced by self-managed 401K funds, and private-sector work is characterized by a series of not just job changes but career changes.

The source of one's livelihood can dry up and blow away almost overnight, and to fill the hole many turn to gig-work with zero benefits that saddles the worker with self-employment taxes (15.3% of all earnings, as the "self-employed" gig worker must pay both the employee and the employer shares of Social Security-Medicare payroll taxes).

This isn't true self-employment, of course, as true self-employment means the owner-worker can hope to extract the full value of their labor; in contrast, much of the value of the gig work is skimmed off by corporate platforms (Uber et al.). The gig worker is a precariat wage-slave, not a self-employed owner of their own labor and enterprise.

Most people are one heartbeat away from insolvency.
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