Chris Hedges Economy Louis Hyman

Chris Hedges and Louis Hyman on the Harmful Gig Economy

On the show Chris Hedges discusses the gig economy to Louis Hyman, Professor of Economic History at Cornell University.

After the end of World War II two generations of workers in the United States were blessed with a period of unprecedented prosperity. Wages for the working class were high. Jobs were stable and came with benefits and health insurance. Unions protected workers from abuse by the business elites. Taxes on the wealthiest individuals and corporations was as high as 91 percent. The public school system provided a quality education to the poor and the rich. The nation’s infrastructure and technology were cutting edge and unrivaled. But by the 1970s it all began to go south. Wages stagnated. Income inequality grew, until by 2008 the top wealthiest 10 percent of Americans received 87 percent of the economic growth, compared with 29 percent from 1933 to 1973. The good industrial jobs vanished. In their place rose the temp or gig economy, one where wages were low, the jobs were not secure and did not provide benefits, unions were emasculated and the nation’s great democratic institutions, along with its infrastructure, crumbled into decay. What went wrong? How did it happen? And what does it mean for our future?

Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact. 

Louis Hyman
Louis Hyman

Louis Hyman is Professor of Economic History at Cornell University, and author of Temp: The Real Story of What Happened to Your Salary, Benefits and Job Security.

8 comments

    1. And why? Because all you have to say about a very important matter is that you don’t like a perfectly well-chosen word: emasculated, rendered impotent, without power. I’m sorry, but “efeminated” does not exist. Why don’t you start using it, ridicule does not kill.

  1. Because this is on RT, expect liberals to dismiss it as Russian propaganda even though it’s quality journalism, and the truth. It is sad that our own media rarely digs deeply into the problems that this country has now.

  2. What went wrong? How did it happen?

    Look no further than the American Dream itself (built upon imperial nightmares, including in internal colonies), which in coopting (some/white) workers to the ‘blessings’ of consumer capitalism provided enough brakes on working class struggle as to leave the ruling class free to roll back on the golden era’s limited gains and wage more unchallenged class war under neoliberalism.

    What does it mean for our future?

    Basically, that we don’t have one, as gig economy makes way for digital dictatorship and depopulation in the new abnormal.

  3. You thought they were joking when they said “you will own nothing and be happy.”

    They were very serious, at least about the you will own nothing part. Our democracy is deader then a doornail. The people are intentionally divided and totally incapable of defending themselves or acting with any form of unity at all.

    News flash…they are going to let inflation eat you alive. They will sleep well in their mansions as you slowly watch your hopes and dreams die before your eyes. As we all stand around in the rubble, hungry and hopeless I fully expect those left to continue pointing fingers at everyone but those actually responsible. How could it be otherwise.

    Have a great day.

  4. Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, coined the term “the Great Uncoupling” in 2015. Up until the 1980s wages kept up with productivity then the two began to bifurcate. As technology advances productivity will continue to grow but fewer people will be needed for the jobs. There will be a big pie but only a few will get to eat if we continue our neoliberal philosophy.

  5. Dear Chris: Thank God there are still powerful voices out there not afraid to speak truth to power.

  6. Actually, you covered such an important topic and enlightened such crucial Issues which require a real clarification. Unfortunately, we were able to see a lot of negative changes regarding different spheres of life and it is really difficult to find answers to these questions. A lot of factors contributed to such a state of affairs and there is a certain causal relationship in everything. It is so sad for me to realize the reality, but we can’t escape from reality, we only can change it, which is necessary. I think that it is really important to dig deep in order to find the root of the problem and strive for real progress. I think that we need to be more partial to this because Inactivity definitely won’t change anything.

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