Defining ‘Employee’ in the Gig Economy

from NYTs There is a long history of businesses that try to deprive workers of the protections and benefits they are entitled to under the law by wrongly treating them as independent contractors, rather than employees. Now, some workers and regulators are accusing companies like Uber, which connects cars with passengers on mobile apps, of doing the same thing to the thousands of drivers, couriers and others who work for them. Agricultural businesses, textile mills, construction firms and other enterprises have often classified workers as contractors to lower their costs by, for example, not paying workers the statutory minimum wage […]

Continue reading

Why a Harvard Professor Has Mixed Feelings When Students Take Jobs in Finance

from NYTs This is a bittersweet time on campus. Seniors are beginning to find jobs, and while their enthusiasm is infectious, some of their choices give me pause. Many of the best students are not going to research cancer, teach and inspire the next generation, or embark on careers in public service. Instead, large numbers are becoming traders, brokers and bankers. At Harvard in 2014, nearly one in five students who took a job went to finance. For economics majors, the number was closer to one in two. I can’t help wondering: Is this the best use of talent? Of course, […]

Continue reading

Socrates in Silicon Valley

from Project Syndicate If Socrates’s gadfly was in Silicon Valley, it would have a lot of lazy horses to sting. The citizens of the techno-polis appear oblivious to how the outside world’s perception of them has changed, and radically so. Once universally revered as a hotbed of innovation, the world’s premier technology hub is increasingly viewed with suspicion and resentment. Yes, Silicon Valley is still admired as a source of invention and creative destruction; but it is also widely viewed as having lost its ethical compass. With proliferating reports of lax attitudes toward data privacy, wanton disregard for the dignity of the […]

Continue reading

Could This Video Save China?

from The Atlantic Hundreds of millions of people in China have watched this 103-minute-long video just in the past week. There’s never been anything close to its success in the English-language Internet world. Everyone in the China-policy community is aware of it and discussing it. I’m mentioning it here for several reasons. First, it’s just now available in a version with English subtitles for the whole length. The crowd-sourced translation effort is its own fascinating tale—you can see the crowd-sourcing page, mainly in Chinese, here—but for the moment the point is that English speakers can follow the whole thing, below. […]

Continue reading

Go Digital By All Means, But Don’t Bring The Venture Capitalists In To Do It

from the guardian It’s brutal out there for public service institutions. They are under relentless pressure to conform to a bizarre form of market logic that requires them to turn a profit, even if the only way to do so is at the expense of the public that has supported them for all these years. Whether that’s archives that are being told to make up their budget shortfalls by selling digital access or the BBC being told to expect a much-reduced license fee and to make up the difference by figuring out how to grow Worldwide, its commercial arm. Even when it’s […]

Continue reading