Letters to the Editor

'Gig Economy' Beneficial to Whom?

To the editor,

Reading Mr. Bruce Apar’s cheerfully vapid fantasies about the “gig economy” (“Get Your Gig On,” Nov. 13) caused me to shake my head in disbelief several times. However, this passage, about the huge rise in adjunct (part-time) college professors deserves special attention: “It benefits employer and employee both: more flexible for the employee, who can work other gigs as well, and more affordable for the employer, which doesn’t have to bear the considerable cost of benefits...”

As an adjunct myself, I can tell Mr. Apar that the “flexibility” of teaching eight to nine classes every semester at four different institutions, being unable to afford health insurance and knowing I could lose everything in the blink of an eye, has never struck me as very beneficial. My students don’t benefit, either.

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While most adjuncts are dedicated professionals, teaching that many classes inevitably undermines our classroom effectiveness. My guess is Mr. Apar would respond to my story by lecturing me about the need for adaptation and creativity. It has apparently never occurred to him that, without radical social change to our economic system, individuals can be creative, even brilliant, and still find themselves up the creek.

The endgame of the economic model Mr. Apar outlines will inevitably consign the majority of the world’s population to, at best, a state of permanent precariousness. But, I suppose this human suffering is just what Mr. Apar terms “collateral damage.” I wish he’d avoid the cutesy language. That the dramatic economic changes Mr. Apar discusses are happening is beyond dispute. That he sees them as in any way positive is a matter for his conscience. Let’s at least be honest and exact in our terms: When Mr. Apar urges an “opportunity mindset” and writes about how “relationships are more important than sheer materialism” he is describing an economic future in which the tiny few hoard their wealth while the vast many live in the constant fear of miserable poverty.

 

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