Civic Hall Election 2016 future of work Sharing Economy



Marco Rubio weighs in on the on-demand economy, innovation and disruption, money in politics, and platform cooperativism.

This morning Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio dropped by Civic Hall to deliver a prepared speech on the on-demand economy, followed by a Q&A with Civic Hall founder Andrew Rasiej. In his speech, Rubio touted the advantages of the on-demand economy, including upward mobility, flexibility, and independence. He argued that all of the “best innovation is happening in the unregulated space” and said his proposed tax reform plan would make the tax code more welcoming to the on-demand economy. Many of Rubio’s prepared comments tracked with other speeches he has given on the subject, although this one was without any explicit jabs at fellow candidates.

Rubio highlighted New York-based Handy as an innovative startup facing overregulation, and said another entrepreneur he met recently asked him not to name his company publicly to avoid drawing the attention of legislators.

Rubio called for a new category of worker, pointing out that those with W2 status have more protections but fewer of the freedoms that characterize the on-demand economy, but if employees are categorized as independent contractors, employers are prevented from training them or otherwise dictating how something is done. Rubio argued that a middle ground is needed, pointing out Germany already has a third category for “dependent contractors.” He added, “Whether or not this model is the best for America is something we have to figure out.”

To cut down on innovation-stifling regulation, Rubio proposed a cap on the amount that regulations can cost the economy, saying current compliance costs approach $70 billion. Rubio singled out regulation lobbied for by incumbent interests like the taxi and hotel industries for hindering competition.

When Andrew Rasiej pushed him on the root issue that makes it possible for established interests to have their way—money in politics—Rubio first said that small government is the answer: If unlimited regulation is an option, he argued, incumbent interests will “find a public safety argument and use that to put up a roadblock.” In response to Rasiej’s follow up question, again about the influence of money in politics, Rubio said that the American people should “stop electing” people susceptible to that. But he didn’t offer any ideas for how to achieve that.FullSizeRender

Citing the impact of Airbnb on the housing market, Rasiej asked how the government could minimize the collateral effects of the on-demand economy without regulation. Rubio responded that he’s not against all regulation—he’s glad that his drinking water isn’t poisoned and that someone is checking on the planes he flies on—but added that “structural change in the economy has always been very disruptive” and pointed out that the industrial revolution brought about a number of new issues, including child labor, that had to be resolved.

Rubio repeated himself somewhat when a member of the audience—an independent taxi driver—asked whether new companies and drivers should have the same access to the market that he has, but without paying the same fees. Rubio first replied that he doesn’t think it’s the same model, but reiterated that innovation is always disruptive, citing the impact of the car on the horse cab driver. Rubio said that it is the role of government not to prevent innovation, but to help people affected get access to the new innovative economy, whether through education or other means.

Rubio was dismissive of the potential for worker-owned cooperative platforms to compete with other startups, saying, “I don’t think you’re going to get innovation that way…people aren’t driven to do it if they don’t see the opportunity to make money.”

Finally, when asked by Rasiej whether he would continue to support the U.S. Digital Service if he were elected president, Rubio said, “If it proves that it’s something that is effective and that it can attract the brightest minds to improve how government works, then that’s something we should definitely continue.”

First Post



The future of work; social media and the copycat effect; and more.

  • Tech and the presidentials: Speaking at Civic Hall this morning, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio said in a prepared speech that “both parties were to blame” for not innovating fast enough to keep up with the “on-demand” economy (his preferred descriptor). He also decried regulations lobbied for by incumbent interests like the taxi industry and the hotel industry for blocking the growth of companies like Uber and Airbnb.

    Rubio also touted Handy, which helps self-employed trades professionals get jobs, for enabling “upward mobility” and offering people greater flexibility to choose their work hours, noting that the average Handy worker makes $18 an hour. He said it was “shameful” that the “biggest obstacle to growth” of this company was “our very own government.” He concluded: “We have to change the way our political establishment thinks about the new economy.”

  • During a Q&A session with Civic Hall founder Andrew Rasiej, Rubio declared that he wasn’t in favor of eliminating the federal minimum wage (contrary to prior reports) but that he opposed raising it.

  • Asked about the U.S. Digital Service and whether he would continue it were he elected president, he said “If it proves that it’s something that is effective and that it can attract the brightest minds to improve how government works, then that’s something we should definitely continue.”

  • Our Jessica McKenzie covered the event in a bit more detail for Civicist.
  • The future of work: The Guardian’s Alex Hern argues it’s time to stop referring to “the sharing economy,” saying that the “gig economy” is a much better descriptor for what’s actually going on: “a dependence on tenuous labor, particularly that provided by individuals working as third-party contractors rather than full employees.”

  • recent survey by the Freelancers Union found that nearly 54 million people, or one-third of the work force, are doing freelance work. According to the survey, “86 percent of the nation’s freelancers are likely to vote in 2016, and 62 percent are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports freelancers’ interests.”

  • As Katie Benner reports for the New York Times, politicians are turning more to gig economy startups like Thumbtack, Munchery, and Managed by Q, for advice on how to address their needs.

  • Related: On October 7, Michelle Miller of is co-hosting a White House town hall with President Obama to discuss the future of work and the “importance of worker voice.” You can submit a question in advance here. (Here’s Coworker’s Jess Kutch speaking at PDF 2015 last June about “the power of employee-led online organizing.”)

  • Brave new world: An in-depth report by Mother Jones’ Mark Follman on data-driven efforts by “threat assessment professionals” to intervene before mass killers take action includes this troubling news: “When I asked threat assessment experts what might explain the recent rise in gun rampages, I heard the same two words over and over: social media. Although there is no definitive research yet, widespread anecdotal evidence suggests that the speed at which social media bombards us with memes and images exacerbates the copycat effect.”

  • Self-described “budding young journalist” Eve Peyser managed to interview notorious pharmaceutical price-gouger Martin Shkreli by swiping right on his profile on the Tinder dating app, as she details in this piece for

  • Exile watch: Edward Snowden has offered to go to prison in the U.S. as part of a plea deal that would allow him to come home, but as Ewen MacAskill reports for the Guardian, he says he “won’t serve as a deterrent to people trying to do the right thing in difficult situations.” But, he adds, the U.S. Justice Department has made no effort to contact him to discuss any plea deal.