If you’ve been following the ascendance of the PRO Act—a piece of federal labor legislation that would give more workers the right to engage in organizing and collective bargaining—then you probably know that it’s a polarizing topic among freelancers.

The foundational controversy here is a component of the PRO Act called the ABC Test. It’s a system used to determine whether a worker should be classified as an employee or a freelance contractor, and it can be applied to practically any labor law. To qualify as a freelancer, a worker must satisfy all three prongs of the test—A, B, and…

The pandemic has shown that when it comes to what really matters, my housemates and I were not as close as I thought

Photo: Maskot/Getty Images

How long should someone quarantine in their bedroom when they’ve just flown on Thanksgiving weekend? This is the question my roommate Johnny and I found ourselves debating two weeks ago as our other roommate, Claire, planned her return to Boston after months spent with family in the Midwest. The three of us have shared an apartment in Boston’s leafy, lefty Jamaica Plain neighborhood for more than a year. Until now, our most arduous household challenges have been fixing the projector screen we use to watch movies or finding the source of a sudden sour stench in the fridge (spoiler: a…

Just a few months ago, I spent my waking hours surrounded by other humans. I share an apartment in Boston with two friends. I crammed myself into the subway or bus during rush hour each day. I worked remotely at bustling coffee shops and libraries before walking to the gym or the nearest movie theater to decompress. I went on dates, attended concerts, volunteered for campaigns and community organizations, and bought groceries at least twice a week.

I’ve stopped doing most of these things now. You just can’t, when there’s a novel coronavirus ripping through nursing homes, low income communities…

Not everyone can, or should, go back to work

A resident of a senior living community in Arlington, Virginia listens to a band play a socially-distanced concert. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Renolds/Getty Images

The line at Trader Joe’s wrapped around the store that morning. I sized up the queue from inside my mom’s car, bug-eyed, sweating, contemplating whether joining the throng was worth the risk. It wasn’t the rain that thwarted me. It was the lack of distance between many of the shoppers who were waiting to step into the store. Some of them couldn’t have been standing more than three or four feet apart from one another. Too dangerous, I decided. I can’t take that chance.

So I drove home, empty-handed and sad. My folks would understand. Maybe we could cook some…

Millions of Americans are still waiting to see what little stimulus is available to them

Photo: Jeff Fusco/Getty Images

For most Americans, living in the United States means living on the edge of bankruptcy. Our wages haven’t kept up with the cost of living. We don’t have social safety nets that guarantee health care or housing for all. And by now, it’s well established that nearly 40% of Americans would struggle to rustle up as little as $400 in the event of an emergency.

This is how things were in the United States before the Covid-19 pandemic — before our lives were suddenly relocated indoors for the sake of slowing down the spread of the novel coronavirus. Now, with…

Politicians are attempting to buy our forgiveness as cheaply as they can

Senator Mitch McConnell walks toward the Senate Chamber on March 23, 2020. Photo: Barcroft Media/Getty Images

There’s going to be a bailout. Or something. As Covid-19 continues to spread across the United States, non-essential businesses are shutting down, people are losing their incomes, unemployment websites are crashing, and of course, most of us still have bills to pay. And that’s why Congress has spent the better part of a week negotiating a cash stimulus package that will involve sending checks to Americans as we all weather the storm of this coronavirus pandemic.

If you’re like me, or any of the millions of lower income Americans teetering over the precipice of bankruptcy, this is welcome news. Since…

Their plans to strengthen unions would leave out millions of Americans

Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty

Organized labor is having a moment on the 2020 campaign trail. Progressive Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are proposing a new era of worker protections, with expanded unions at the core of their plans.

There’s just one problem. Unions are only for people who have a job. Millions of people who make their living as contractors would be entirely left out.

The promise of the Democrats’ labor platform harkens back to a time when Americans could work for one employer over many years, expect respectable wages, and a pension when they retire. But that kind of traditional employment…

2020 Democrats are feeding into the “dignity of work” mantra. They should be talking about the “dignity of life” instead.

Credit: Westend61/Getty Images

Recently, while out to lunch with a colleague, I found out that her four-year-old daughter had just received a study guide for an upcoming test. She mentioned this casually, as if the idea of a preschooler studying for an exam was as normal as a person staying late at the office or taking up a side gig. “These kids have barely learned how to play,” I told my friend incredulously, “and they’re already being sent home with test-prep booklets.”

“I guess it’s a bit strange,” she conceded. “But what can you do?”

I shouldn’t have been surprised by this. The…

The tax bill that the Republican Party just passed is going to kill people.

Let’s get that right out in the open.

The bill, which cleared the House and Senate today despite significant popular opposition, adds a staggering sum to America’s national debt. The GOP is openly planning to pay for a chunk of that debt by imposing massive cuts on taxpayer-funded social welfare programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and Social Security. …

America runs on taxation.

This is something that bears repeating in a country where taxes — the money that each of us puts into the “Keep America’s Lights On” jar — are a casually reviled concept. In America, there is an entire industry built on helping people avoid giving money to Uncle Sam. The most recent United States presidents have cut taxes in some way. The Republican Party, which accounts for more than one quarter of the American electorate, has fashioned itself into an organization that believes in “starving” the government by relieving taxpaying oligarchs of their civic burden.


Miles Howard

Writer covering life-work balance, recreation, and how politics shape both. Bylines at VICE, NBC News, WBUR, Southwest Airlines, Boston Magazine, and The Nation

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