A fair-minded analysis of the ever morphing worldwide labor force—an early entry in burgeoning popular literature on the gig...

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GIGGED

THE END OF THE JOB AND THE FUTURE OF WORK

An examination of how job environment models and opportunities have evolved, mainly through the success of Uber and other gig-economy stalwarts.

Kessler, a reporter for Quartz who previously worked for Fast Company and Mashable, describes Uber’s rise to prominence in 2013 after a series of failed fledgling attempts to garner venture capitalist funding and how the unique business model changed the way people taxi. But Uber is just one example within an ever expanding network of job marketplaces eschewing the classic template of an office day job with steady hours and benefits. Though both Snapchat and Instagram emerged from this revolutionary period, Kessler focuses on on-demand business models like Uber’s, which became widely scrutinized when it classified its drivers (mostly men) as independent contractors, which “relieved the company from government-mandated employer responsibilities in most countries.” The author taps the experiences of a number of Uber drivers and satisfied members of this alternative workforce and provides a comprehensive cross section of workers and developers who have abandoned their unrealistic daily working structure to benefit from the gig economy’s flexible business models. She also charts the unique strategies of like-minded on-demand workforce marketplaces such as Mechanical Turk, Managed by Q, and Gigster, demonstrating how their successes were earned and are consistently maintained. By contrast, Kessler spotlights the negative aspects of the gig economy: pay discrepancies (e.g., Uber’s fluctuating pricing model which affected drivers’ take-home potential), personal injury risk and exposure, and lack of benefits. The author then probes how the gig economy became a hot-button discussion among politicians and world economists and policymakers. In conclusion, the author suggests that the advent of “Uberisation” has encountered a wide-ranging groundswell and its share of potholes and obstacles, and though it remains a potentially lucrative employment alternative for workers and labor innovators alike, there are still great opportunities for much-needed refinement.

A fair-minded analysis of the ever morphing worldwide labor force—an early entry in burgeoning popular literature on the gig economy.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-09789-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

FRONT ROW AT THE TRUMP SHOW

The chief White House and Washington correspondent for ABC provides a ringside seat to a disaster-ridden Oval Office.

It is Karl to whom we owe the current popularity of a learned Latin term. Questioning chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, he followed up a perhaps inadvertently honest response on the matter of Ukrainian intervention in the electoral campaign by saying, “What you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mulvaney’s reply: “Get over it.” Karl, who has been covering Trump for decades and knows which buttons to push and which to avoid, is not inclined to get over it: He rightly points out that a reporter today “faces a president who seems to have no appreciation or understanding of the First Amendment and the role of a free press in American democracy.” Yet even against a bellicose, untruthful leader, he adds, the press “is not the opposition party.” The author, who keeps his eye on the subject and not in the mirror, writes of Trump’s ability to stage situations, as when he once called Trump out, at an event, for misrepresenting poll results and Trump waited until the camera was off before exploding, “Fucking nasty guy!”—then finished up the interview as if nothing had happened. Trump and his inner circle are also, by Karl’s account, masters of timing, matching negative news such as the revelation that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with distractions away from Trump—in this case, by pushing hard on the WikiLeaks emails from the Democratic campaign, news of which arrived at the same time. That isn’t to say that they manage people or the nation well; one of the more damning stories in a book full of them concerns former Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, cut off at the knees even while trying to do Trump’s bidding.

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4562-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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