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Back to the 19th century
Back to the 19th century

My recent column about the growth of on-demand jobs like Uber making life less predictable and secure for workers unleashed a small barrage of criticism from people who contend that workers get what they're worth in the market. A Forbes Magazine contributor, for example, writes that jobs exist only "when both employer and employee are happy with the deal being made." So if the new jobs are low-paying and irregular, too bad. Much the same argument was voiced in the late 19th century over alleged "freedom of contract." Any deal between employees and workers was assumed to be fine if both sides voluntarily agreed to it. It was an era when many workers...

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