“It’s true that, in many ways, sharing-economy jobs can offer more autonomy than traditional employer-employee relationships. But there’s a dark side to these work arrangements that gets considerably less press: the shifting of risk off corporate balance sheets and onto the shoulders of individual Americans, who may not even realize what kinds of liabilities they’re taking on,” writes Washington Post reporter Catherine Rampell.
The risks involve everything from income instability (the worker, rather than the firm, has to absorb the brunt of demand shocks or price cuts); to irreversible capital investments (Uber and Lyft have infamously pushed drivers to buy new cars by promising big returns that never materialized); to unforeseen criminal liabilities (what happens if an Airbnb guest turns your home into a brothel?); to fewer protections in the event of catastrophe (no access to programs such as workers’ comp). Sure, sharing-economy “entrepreneurs” can get a lot of upside, but there are a lot of hidden downsides, too.
Today’s Question: Do the downsides of the sharing economy outweigh the benefits?