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Raw Deal: How the "Uber Economy" and Runaway Capitalism Are Screwing American Workers Hardcover – October 20, 2015

4.5 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Hill hits Silicon Valley darlings like Uber and Airbnb alongside the former online black market Silk Road, right-to-work laws, and factory robots all under the umbrella of “naked capitalism.” He explains how the rise of the “1099 workforce” is not limited to Silicon Valley; more and more traditional jobs in fields like manufacturing are turning to contractors to perform the same tasks full-time employees used to do. In addition to costing workers in benefits and safety nets, misclassifying workers as contractors costs federal and state governments billions of dollars annually in lost tax revenue." Washington Monthly

"For anyone driven crazy by the faux warm and fuzzy PR of the so-called sharing economy Steven Hill’s Raw Deal: How the “Uber Economy” and Runaway Capitalism Are Screwing American Workers should be required reading… Hill is an extremely well-informed skeptic who presents a satisfyingly blistering critique of high tech’s disingenuous equating of sharing with profiteering…Hill includes two chapters listing potential solutions for the crises facing U.S. workers…Hill stresses the need for movement organizing to create a safety net strong enough to save the millions of workers currently being shafted in venture capital’s brave new world…Hill’s book should be close at hand for activists fighting the blind greed of Silicon Valley’s self-entitled profiteers." ―Counterpunch

"A growing underclass scrambling to make ends meet at the whim of increasingly picky and erratic employers, that number could balloon to 65 million within 10 years, or about half of the domestic workforce, warns Steven Hill in his troubling new book, Raw Deal. This brand of worker abuse cuts across industries and company size. Hill calls out Uber, AirBnb, Merck, Nissan, and dozens of others. Hill does a nice job of putting it in starker, easier-to-understand ways. He's more of a storyteller. He gives us faces ― not just statistics." ―Washington Independent Review of Books

"Just read the manuscript for Raw Deal by Steven Hill. And I found myself laughing, crying and nodding my head. It's superbly well written and a great argument for what needs to be addressed in the peer economy model. While we all talk of value creation possibilities, we don't address the gap in value capture. His book nails the argument for where this leads. The name of his book captures what it is for most people. Well worth reading. I might go back and read it again." -- Nilofer Merchant, Best Selling Author, Thinkers50-designated #1 Future Thinker, Fellow of Martin Prosperity Institute

“This book is a must read for those concerned about how technology is disrupting the way we work and eroding the social safety net and how policy makers should respond. Hill delineates a promising new policy remedy: the creation of Individual Security Accounts to ensure that the growing number of workers in the "gig" economy have adequate safety-net protections and benefits.” ―Laura D'Andrea Tyson, Professor of Business Administration and Economics, University of California-Berkeley and former Chair of the US President's Council of Economic Advisers

“Steven Hill's groundbreaking book on the part-time, unstable 'Uber Economy' shows how a new sub-economy becomes a work of law-flouting regress undermining full-time work. Remote corporate algorithms run riot!” ―Ralph Nader

“We love to talk about technological innovation and disruption, yet rarely do we understand and discuss the actual consequences across broader society. Steven Hill's Raw Deal is superb, it is the best book I've read about the consequences of such "creative destruction" as the future hurtles toward us at breakneck speed.” ―Peter Sims, Co-Founder and President, Silicon Guild and author of LITTLE BETS: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries

“For many years, Steven Hill's analysis, commentary and activism have helped shape our understanding of the U.S. political economy. His latest book, Raw Deal, is a riveting exposé that shows with alarming lucidity what Americans stand to lose if we don't figure out how to rein in the technological giants that are threatening the American Dream.” ―Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of THE NATION

“A provocative, remedy-based perspective on the joint complexities of economic stability and ever expanding technology.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Steven Hill has written an important book that will help shape the debate on the "sharing economy." It raises fundamental issues about the extent to which the sharing economy is largely an effort to evade regulations, many of which serve important public purposes.” ―Dean Baker, co-director, Center for Economic and Policy Research

“In Raw Deal, Steven Hill documents in frightening detail the ways in which new forms of work promise to plunge US workers and their families into further economic hardship, risk-assumption, and instability. Fortunately, Hill does not simply anticipate catastrophe; he closes the book with an informed call for institutional reforms that would lessen the negative consequences of these novel yet potentially dangerous forms of work. Anyone concerned with US working conditions - whether American workers, worker advocates, labor market scholars, or policy-makers - must read this book.” ―Janet C. Gornick Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Graduate Center, City University of New York and Director, LIS: Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg

“Steven Hill has written a timely and important book that raises all the right questions about the future of the 1099 economy. From ground zero in San Francisco, he has the perfect vantage point to see where the technologies and business innovations shaping our world are going. Raw Deal should be required reading for every policy maker trying to make sense of how we ensure the sharing economy benefits are shared by all and not captured by a small group of disruptors.” ―Lenny Mendonca, Director Emeritus, McKinsey and Company

“The best takedown yet of how capitalism's "share" economy is only another shareholder one. Brilliant.” ―Joel Rogers, Professor, UW-Madison, and author, AMERICAN SOCIETY: How It Really Works

Raw Deal is a compelling work -- a stockpile of empirical analyses, anecdotes, and primary sourcing -- laying out the evidence of the incredibly detrimental, yet often-disregarded downsides of many of the most talked-about 21st century business models. Steven Hill's work is by far the most forceful case I've read describing the tragedy of the commons that is the 'sharing economy,' and provides a much needed reality check for investors, civil libertarians, and everyone who cares about the American dream. At its heart, Raw Deal is a necessary catalyst that encourages us to explore the dark side of Silicon Valley, presenting not only an in-depth critique, but a wealth of proactive solutions that could prevent the pending decimation of America's working class.” ―Sascha Meinrath, Director of X-Lab, Palmer Chair, Penn State University

“Steven Hill's impressive Raw Deal exposes the so called "sharing economy". As Hill explains, the new insecurity of workers produces wealth that is shared mainly with the top one percent using new forms of predatory capitalism. Raw Deal is a much needed antidote to a lot of hype about how insecurity is supposedly the ticket to prosperity.” ―Robert Kuttner, coeditor of the American Prospect, author of DEBTORS' PRISON: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility

Raw Deal combines compelling stories with lots of evidence and policy prescriptions in a one-of-a-kind book on the "new economy." Getting below the techno-babble hype about "sharing" and "disruption," Hill shows the enormous human costs of "no rules" labor markets.” ―Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, Fortune columnist, and author of LEADERSHIP BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time

“Steven Hill’s book Raw Deal is a red-faced, steam-out-the-ears indictment of sharing apps. Yet Hill offers a pragmatic, almost post-ideological solution: “individual security accounts” for workers. Companies that use independent contractors, or offer scant benefits for employees, would have to add on a certain percentage of their pay as a contribution to those accounts, which would cover health care, unemployment insurance, and more. There’d be a mechanism ― and a requirement ― for companies to contribute to the long-term well-being even of workers who aren’t on their traditional payrolls.” ―Dante Ramos, Boston Globe

Raw Deal is a book for its time. Steven Hill perfectly captures the anxiety of the American worker in today’s increasingly digital economy. Hill presents some compelling ideas, the most important being something he calls the Economic Singularity. In this unfortunate tipping point, the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few results in economic implosion because the 99 percent can’t afford to buy anything the 1 percent has to sell. The United States is turning into a nation of 1099 workers who eke out a living driving cars, renting rooms and running errands for people who apparently have better things to do with their time. Throw in self-thinking computers and obedient robots, and there won’t be any work left for plain old Homo sapiens...Hill proposes that we offer 1099 workers a new safety net consisting of tax deductions, individual security accounts and multiemployer health care plans. All good ideas." ―Thomas Lee, columnist, San Francisco Chronicle

About the Author

STEVEN HILL is a Senior Fellow with the New America Foundation and a Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. He is a veteran journalist and author of five books, including the internationally praised Europe's Promise: Why the European Way is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age, which was selected as one of the "Top Fifteen Books of 2010" by The Globalist. His articles and media interviews have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Financial Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Die Zeit, Project Syndicate, Los Angeles Times, The Nation, Politico, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, Salon, Slate, BBC, C-SPAN, Fox News, NPR, PBS, Democracy Now, Austrian Public Broadcasting and many others. He lives in San Francisco, CA.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (October 20, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250071585
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250071583
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Loyd Eskildson HALL OF FAME on November 25, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Having worked as a cross-country truck driver for the last decade or so, I've observed several trends adverse to the 'little guy' (drivers). One exception is that a number of companies are switching from paying on a 1099 (driver is an 'independent contractor,' responsible for paying self-employment taxes, and receiving no benefits - overtime, disability, paid sick, holiday or vacation leave, retirement, unemployment insurance) to a W-2 basis, so at least the driver isn't hit so hard by the self-employment tax; some are even providing a semblance of benefits (vacation, subsidized health care). On the other hand, there has been an increase in 'owner-operators,' who by virtue of owning/leasing their own truck become responsible for maintenance (an encouragement to take better care of the truck, and improve fuel economy), as well as keeping the truck moving so as to cover lease/purchase requirements. Another problem for most drivers - they're paid by the mile, regardless of road conditions, or delays due to poor maintenance. One of the latest - Uber and Lyft, which by their very nature mostly charge less than taxis, while once again making the driver responsible for fuel, capital investment, and maintenance. The result - implied claims of driver net income that can't possibly be true. And there are now more and more independent contractors delivering packages to people's doors - what little I know about what they're paid suggests that like Uber/Lyft, those involved are responsible for buying/maintaining/fueling their own vehicle - and undoubtedly not netting nearly as much as they were probably led to believe.Read more ›
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Our model we have built our world on seems to be broken. Book offers a good rundown how our world as we know it may be headed off a cliff. No pensions, fewer jobs with benefits. Gigs, freelancing and winging it are the future. Hill outlines the issue as a growing army of "freelancers, temps, contractors, part-timers, day laborers, micro-entrepreneurs, gig-preneurs, solo-preneurs, contingent labor, perma-lancers and perma-temps." Even if the job offers benefits, the high cost deductible for med care is prohibitive. Hill warns that many of our future jobs will be taken by robots. The young workforce that is coming up are overloaded with college loans that they can hardly pay off. I don't pretend to have a crystal ball, but with an ever growing population, higher living expenses and less jobs...something has to give.

The Uber / freelance economy is either good or bad depending on how you look at it. One side says it offers money to a wide group of people willing to share. It offers jobs to people that a company could not afford to offer unless it could hire independent contractors. The other side of the coin says it takes away traditional jobs and replaces them with part time gigs that offer no security or benefits while cutting into established businesses profits. Businesses hiring independent contractors is not new. With or without the Uber economy the trend has been to offer less and less full time jobs so the employer does not have to offer benefits.

I don't have any perfect answers to the problems that face us in the future, it is just how things have worked out. The book does not give magic bullet answers to the problem either. It does a great job in outlining the issues, but some problems society make are not easily fixable. Really, it Is the American way...
Read more ›
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Terrific analysis of the "sharing" economy. Author identifies that only the few are benefiting from this sharing -- and it is not those who do the work. Has sound suggestions for making it right.
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Hill’s book is a non-stop attack on Uber, Airbnb and any other company or person who offers contract work or suggests contract/freelance work isn't awful. It ignores or dismisses the advantages sharing and on-demand economy companies provide both consumers and workers. There's a reason these companies are so successful - they provide services that consumers want and provide work that is attractive to many.

Despite the book's hyperbole, vitriol and one-sided point of view, I genuinely enjoyed it. It provides an excellent description of the very real downsides of the Uber economy.

The book closes with and excellent set of policy suggestions for making independent work less precarious. This section is quite good and should be required reading for policy makers.

I would have preferred a more balanced approach (the one-sidedness is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5), but I still strongly recommend this book for those interested in this topic.
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Silicon Valley is turning us all into their "errand boys". Slavery has been re-instated --
and the new plantation is your smart phone and you bid your services down to compete
against other slaves to a make a dollar to go fetch your master's laundry or food.
We are now officially the "property" of Silicon Valley. And they are not racists by the way;
they will exploit you regardless of race/ color/ or creed.

This is one of the best books written this year folks, buy it, read it, pass it on.
I read it in three days.

Silicon Valley is seen as the hub of high-tech and entrepreneurship and start-ups, etc.,
but let me tell you, Silicon Valley is the new slavery; it's the new south.
These people are psycho for your labor and your money.
Uber drivers beware.

Excellent book !
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