Based in Las Vegas, Douglas french writes about the  economy and book reviews. 

The Fed Creates the Need for Side Hustles

The Fed Creates the Need for Side Hustles

Since when are industriousness and hard work criticized? The New York Times op-ed page.  Alissa Quart complains,

this nouveau moonlighting continues to be exalted ­as cool, empowering or freeing. This mantra is false: Side hustles are not simply a new version of working as a “wage slave” so that we can do what we love in our off hours. Instead, far more often, people take on second or third side hustles because of wage stagnation or low pay at their full-time jobs.

So, what’s another word for wage stagnation but inflation.  However, Ms. Quart, the author of “Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America,” doesn’t mention the Federal Reserve or increases in the supply of money.  

Quart’s Sunday Times piece is entitled “The Con of the Side Hustle.”  People taking on multiple jobs refer to them as “side hustles.”  Which is kind of cute. Uber is recruiting online, not with the tagline “do you have to have a second job to pay your bills” but rather something cool, like, “Get your side hustle on.”  

It just so happens I’ve had occasion to use Uber lately and usually engage the driver in conversation.  None were complaining about making a little money on the side even though they have “day jobs.” One was a blackjack dealer who said he made $47,000 last year dealing.  When he gets off work he’s bored, so he drives and makes extra money.

Another was a financial planner whose wife just had a baby.  He said he was driving to cover the new baby expenses but also to meet potential clients.  My favorite driver is a Vice President of Player Development at a large local casino. He was driving his wife’s “shift” because he lost a bet between them. His wife drives because she’s home with their toddler and likes to drive a few hours both for the money but also for adult conversation.  

Ms. Quart is far more exercised about these guy’s side hustles than they appeared to be.  

Later in her piece, Ms. Quart really cranks up her ire,

Yet this sales pitch for the “side hustle” takes what we once called, more drably, another job and gives it a gloss, with a tiny shot of Superfly, disguising unstable working hours and a lack of bargaining power as liberation. You can see the twisted alchemy of what Reddit’s founder Alexis Ohanian has called “hustle porn.

All this hand wringing is about prices rising faster than incomes and people having the time and willingness to pursue work and pay for more goods and services rather than live with less and enjoy more leisure time.  Murray Rothbard wrote in the “Mystery of Banking,”

The essence of inflation is the process by which a large and hidden tax is imposed on much of society for the benefit of government and the early receivers of the new money. Inflationary increases of the money supply are pernicious forms of tax because they are covert, and few people are able to understand why prices are rising. Direct, overt taxation raises hackles and can cause revolution; inflationary increases of the money supply can fool the public—its victims—for centuries.

Of course, Ms. Quart casts no stones at the government or the central bank.  It’s private businesses that are to blame. She implores us to never use the words “side hustle,” be more truthful, and most importantly, “we can agitate to raise wages. If we do that, we won’t need cute euphemisms to cloak the chaotic truth of working life in today’s America.”  

The truth of the matter is, the Fed makes most all of us poorer,including businesses, while enriching the government.  Bravo to those with the gumption to have a side hustle.

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