The Internet and The End of The Minimum Wage | Socyberty

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Job bidding sites like Zaarly, Mechanical Turk and Taskrabbit have circumvented minimum wage laws and helped to create a new underclass of the underemployed. It’s time authorities took notice.

I am a Mechanical Turk. For a couple of cents, I will perform a mind-numbing, inaptly named “human intelligence task” a mind-boggling number of times, and at the end of the day I will have earned the minimum wage. In Bengladesh. Maybe. Still, the Amazon site mechanicalturk.com has tens of thousands of willing near-slaves, effectively working off the books (no 1099 until you get to $600, good luck with that) to supplement their unemployment and social security checks.

Technology is supposed to be the great equalizer. In a recession, unions dissolve and workers compromise. But in this recession, something more devious is at work. Technology has become a one-way street. Suddenly the guy who wants someone to clean his basement has fifty bidders, some of whom are probably not eating very well these days. Three hours’ work may go for ten or fifteen dollars. Sweatshops in Indonesia have nothing on these “private” employers.

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