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The Fatal Flaw of the Working Class               

Wealth inequality is rising at accelerated rates in the United States and around the world. In America, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates have a combined worth of $300 billion as opposed to the bottom half of America’s estimated $250 billion. That means these 3 men control more wealth than the bottom 50% (approximately 150 million) of Americans. And, unfortunately, the wealth gap shows no signs of decreasing in the near future.

 As the next generation of working-class Americans increasingly embrace the gig economy, they may be in for an apocalyptic future.  Soon, most citizens will be faced with a wealth gap never seen in documented history. The middle class, which is already shrinking, will decline even further, and most citizens will live near the poverty line while a select few, that elite 10% of American society, will continue to amass their riches.

Why is this so? How will this happen, you may ask. Well, for starters, some of the middle- and lower-class people will financially cannibalise themselves into poverty. Others will be cleansed by automation. And the rest will survive through the gig economy. But, the root cause of the working class’ impending demise is complacency.

For ages, complacency has plagued working class citizens; however, they did not have to worry about technology replacing them. Before the 21st century (January 1, 2001), workers sat in their cubicles or maintained their positions within an organization until retirement. Employee loyalty was high, and so was job security. Corporations needed workers, and workers needed jobs.  But, the 21st century is a different monster.

The necessity to accumulate as much wealth as possible is paramount for corporations. In order to remain competitive, you have to offer quality goods and services for the lowest prices possible, and business owners cannot do that when they have to pay salaries, match retirement savings accounts for employees, pay unemployment insurance, pay health insurance, pay sick leave, pay vacation leave, develop workforce policies for diversity and inclusion, cover sexual harassment claims, set up pension funds, pay for real estate to house employees, etc., etc., etc. The companies that are winning are the companies that are innovating - both resource-wise and procedurally.

At the turn of the century, Sears, JC Penney, and K-Mart were thriving organizations. They had several departments within their business model that serviced several different needs. People were employed and sustaining themselves. You could literally call the customer service departments of these business entities and a real person would answer the phone.

Then the Internet came along, and the rest is, well… history. Sears and K-Mart are virtually no more. JC Penney is in its death spiral while its stock has been reduced to a penny stock. And Amazon, Google, Alibaba, and Shopify are soaring like never before. Try to call these organizations and complain about a product that you received. I’ll be surprised if you are able to speak to a real human being. They have automated their customer service interactions with bots, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and email accounts.

Take a look at the ride hailing sector. Uber and Lyft are hemorrhaging the taxi cab companies. Taxi cab companies may not pay the greatest salaries and benefits compared to other industries, but they outperform Uber and Lyft in these categories.

The COVID-19 pandemic will have workers rethink how they operate. Businesses will have to operate with efficient budgets to counter future crisis situations that may, or may not, arise in the future. This will lead to more automation as businesses will need to ensure continuity of operations should the next pandemic keep workers from performing their jobs for weeks, months, and possibly years..

The way individuals can protect themselves will be to not hustle for others, but hustle for themselves. Instead of partnering with tech companies that will take a significant portion of your earnings, people will need to develop side hustles where they can promote their business, process payments, and deliver goods and services without the intervention of behemoth tech companies. People will need to pool their resources together and form small companies of gig workers that share in the profits amongst themselves.

Businesses survive and thrive because they are always thinking about the next big move. That next move for businesses is automation. The ride hailing businesses have been transparent in their quest to have driverless cars. They have shown their drivers that they are not loyal to them - the ones that have allowed these companies to become the entities that they are. Constantly think about your next move and work to seize the moment when it presents itself.

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