What is the proper understanding of work and employment? What work is proper for me, and what is the proper work and employment I can reasonably expect from my fellow man?
As the General Manager of Green Cab Company, with 30 employees and 200 independent contractor drivers, those questions cross my mind and my desk every day. The key word in the questions is ‘proper’: what work is most appropriate to the nature of a person? What work helps a person flourish?
My observation is that people flourish in independence and mutual accountability. Our independent contractor drivers have much more freedom than the average worker; more freedom, with more accountability and more risk. They choose when they work, and how much. They need and expect certain things from the company, but given those, still assume some risk. They need us, and we need them, but not in the standard employer/employee dependency, rather in a free will association based on mutual priorities. Green Cab’s relationship with contractor drivers facilitates, and at it’s best, requires, both parties to be responsible and relatively transparent as to intent and operations.
Why is this arrangement more ‘proper’ for a person than other work? The answer is simple: people are made to be free, AND made to live in community. We are happiest when freely deciding, and freely deciding things among other people. A proper economic structure does not consist of EMPLOYER/ EMPLOYEE/ SAFETY NET, but rather ADULT/ ADULT/ COMMUNITY. In the latter arrangement, a person is free, but supported; responsible, but accountable; exposed, but secure.
My conclusion is that as people are created to be free and in community, economic relationships structured in freedom and accountability, like those fostered at Green Cab, facilitate maximum productivity, virtue, and satisfaction. People are happier and more productive here. Sound governmental economic policy should seek to facilitate this type of relationship, rather than default to the traditional employer/employee paradigm. That paradigm quite often creates competing interests instead of cooperating interests, a divisive environment made worse by the government regulations usually favoring one side or the other. When left to their own devices, in a free marketplace with guaranteed equality under the law, people and firms will tend to form cooperative relationships rather than adversarial, simply because such relationships are better for both. At Green Cab, we have to fight and walk a fine line to maintain our little island of sanity amidst a sea regulatory prejudice. If government is interested in the flourishing and productivity of people, rather than coercion and control, it would just get out of the way, allowing people to act as freely acting members of their communities.