Why the Gig Economy Won’t Work

And what can fix it

Randal Kamradt Sr
5 min readOct 28, 2020


Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

California’s AB5 law is unpopular with a lot of people. Of course, the businesses that are targeted don’t like it. But there are also many people stuck in the gig economy that fear losing their livelihoods. If you’re an Uber driver, and you’re just scraping by, it still beats being unemployed. Even if it means working yourself to the bone with extra hours and no vacations.

But California leads the nation in so many of these laws. Fuel economy wouldn’t be a thing if California weren’t out front. Air quality standards as well. If you believe your state is immune to California’s influence, history is against you. So how can the gig economy work when faced with such odds?

I’m not against the gig economy. I get a small fraction of my income with freelance writing and other side-hustles. I’d like to transform that to a larger fraction of my income, especially as I near retirement and don’t want to disengage completely from the working world. The gig economy, with all its problems, represents a lot of freedom for the working person. So what’s missing? What’s the one thing that can fix the gig economy and make it palatable for both people like me who frost their cake with it, and others where it is their cake. Three words: universal basic income (UBI).

When I was growing up, there was a belief that if you worked for a company, they would provide the security you needed to be a productive worker. No worker can be fully productive if they’re worried about the next round of layoffs. Maybe that was a fiction back then as well, but nobody’s pretending anymore. Job security is your ability to find your next job.

If industry isn’t willing to provide security to the workers, and maybe it shouldn’t have been their role in the first place, can society be the one to step in and provide security? The idea of UBI should be sold as a business-friendly concept, business no longer needs to make any claims at security. Businesses no longer need to provide a living wage, they only have to augment it. The idea of minimum wage can be abolished.

Other ideas obsoleted or diminished by UBI are unemployment insurance, paid time off (including family leave), worker’s compensation, social security, and traditional welfare. Basically, we turn the…