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The rise and rise of self-employment

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Australian union movement has this week been debating its future. It’s worried. Its membership in the private sector is plunging below 14 per cent of the workforce (less than 17 per cent overall). It’s frantic that new disruptive technologies such as Uber, job networking, crowd-sourced funding and more will create an explosion in self-employment. It is horrified that people will become their own bosses!

But at ICA we say: ‘guys and gals of the union movement, rejoice—as this hastens the death of wage slavery!!’ That was the theme of Ken Phillips' book, Independence and the Death of Employment published back in 2005. It’s a good news story! It’s about liberation.
  • Joe Ware of Christian Aid explains how technologies are lifting the horizons of some of the poorest farmers in Africa. For the first time they’re accessing secure banking, weather forecasts and global commodity price data.
  • ICA’s John Findley gives an update on how you, too, as a ‘nano-business’, can do business in China. He gives clear tips as, on his own, he is currently touring China seeing his agents. Talk about the ‘power of one’!
  • The Bank of England has declared that there is little sign of ‘hidden’ jobless in the UK’s self-employment boom. Further, the BOE says that it’s ‘silver entrepreneurs’ driving much of the self-employment growth. And it’s self-employment growth that’s driven the UK unemployment rate down to 5.5 per cent.
  • The evidence is mounting that as people age and are healthy they want to keep working—but as their own boss. In Australia we’ve seen businesses dedicated to helping these entrepreneurs. Look here at Performance Drivers.
  • ‘Silver entrepreneurs’ are part of the ‘independent professionals’ (iPros) surge that’s happening in Europe, increasing in the last decade by 50 per cent to 9 million individuals.
Then there’s this argument put forward in The Economist that there’s a link between firm size and income inequality. The bigger the size of firms in an economy, the more income inequality exists. If there’s truth to this, there’s a big social equity reason for welcoming self-employment. Higher numbers of self-employed people will generate greater social income equality. It makes sense! Diminish wage slavery and the opportunity for equality expands!

There are massive political implications. In the UK ‘Labour looks totally stuffed’ says CapX Editor Iain Martin. He writes “In the parts of Britain where self-employment is surging and business formation is booming, the opposition Labour party risks looking as though it is from a different century.” Martin talks of an “…entrepreneurial revolution that is changing the face of much of the country”.

The UK Conservatives have been improving the environment for self-employment for five years. And it’s been a winner economically, and (for the Conservatives) politically.

Maybe the Abbott government has taken note. Its recent pro-small business/self-employed budget has seen them pull back from political polling that pointed to certain death to again be in political contention.

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