Newsletter 3

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The Singularity Approaches

3D printers might seem like science fiction–but what if, every time you lost a spoon, you could just print a new one in your own kitchen? The Manufacturing Association ain’t gonna like this one. Plus, y’know, self-assembling 3-D printed drones.

The higher ed system is ripe for disruption, especially with the astounding cost of college these days. More than half of all parents expect their kids to do at least part of their college curriculum online. We’ve already seen a huge increase in faculty adjunct teaching–expect to see changes in all kinds of service sector jobs that exist in the university system, as kids spend less time on the traditional four-year college campus.

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

Not to be outdone by the Task Rabbits of the world, Google just launched a chore-contracting service. It’s invite-only, at least for the moment. Google’s also bought into Uber, giving rise to speculation that the self-driving limo isn’t too far off.

A recent opinion piece on TechCrunch makes the argument we’re interested in–what happens in the post-scarcity economy? The unemployed masses of the future seem to be concerned–the post had over 120 comments at this writing. Some tech companies seem serious about maximizing the ability to work less, more efficiently, for the same money.

Sharing & Solidarity, in the Economy

While companies like Lyft & Uber disrupt the taxi & limousine service, Relay Rides is out to mess with Hertz. Why should your car sit in a parking spot all day? Rent it to a stranger, instead!

Sara Horowitz did a great interview with NYU biz Professor Arun Sundararajan from NYU about the sharing economy, this week on the Freelancers’ Union blog. Key takeaway? We’ll all be factoring in the value of our rooms-to-let when we apply for mortgages, in the future.

In shareholder-first versus sharing economy news: Big power companies don’t like the idea of rooftop solar growth. While this op ed is definitely tinged with “the little people only matter when they’re on my side” syndrome–it still makes some valid points.

From Friends

Interested in building a better labor movement today? Two friends of HtU have recently published papers that may help you with that.

Matt Dimick studied the impact of greater centralization and found that unions that centralized their collective bargaining have a better ability to achieve income equality in the workforce.

Peter Murray studied how major membership-based organizations (think the NRA & AARP) using functional organizing (ie–providing services and a communications platform), not just issue advocacy.

Several folks in the co-op community pointed out the publication of this new book, which studies worker-owned coops in Italy, Argentina & Japan.

Geeking Out

Supporters of a basic minimum income for all legal residents of Switzerland announced recently that they have reached enough signatures to qualify their proposal to be put to a vote. Here’s a pretty good primer on Basic Income efforts around the world.

Final Thoughts

“Today we are raised with the notion that to be secure is to be financially autonomous. Amassing wealth is viewed as the primary rite of passage to a secure, autonomous existence.”

~Jeremy Rifkin, The End of Work

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