To the Editor:
Re “The ‘Gig’ Label Is Being Used to Exploit Workers,” by Terri Gerstein (Opinion guest essay, January 29):
We are the independent writers and publishers that Ms. Gerstein mentioned who are suing the Department of Labor over the independent contractor rule that, she said, “will make it more difficult for employers to treat workers as independent contractors rather than as employees.” So let’s explain.
The Labor Department acknowledges in its 339-page rule published Jan. 10 that most of the public comments made by independent contractors expressed opposition according to the rule, “criticizing the Department’s proposed economic reality test as ambiguous and biased against independent contracting.”
There are now more than 70 million independent contractors, a significant part of the US workforce, and study after study shows that 70 percent to 85 percent of us want to remain self-employed. The independent contractor rule is just the latest in the Biden administration’s continuing assault on freelancers on our rights to do business for ourselves.
Like the vast majority of independent contractors in America, we choose self-employment. This rule, which is set to go into effect on March 11, will limit our right to enter into business contracts with our customers on our own terms. We hope the district court will overturn the rule and protect our careers.
Debbie Abrams Kaplan
The authors are co-founders of Fight for Freelancers USA.
To the editor:
Terri Gerstein confuses the gig economy model with the independent contractor model and blames it for the plight and exploitation of independent contracting and concert.
Ms. Gerstein uses the case of dishwashers operated by a temporary company. For such cases, federal and local laws already in place could address this minority of misclassification cases.
But to justify taking away the autonomy, rights and earning potential of tens of millions of independent contractors, as the Labor Department’s latest rule seeks to do, Ms. Gerstein ignores the professional class of “sole proprietors”: journalists, lawyers, ER doctors, nurses and musicians, as well as small business owners who rely on this type of skilled professionalism to maintain and grow their businesses.
Ms. Gerstein barely mentions this category, which makes up the majority of freelancers. Instead, he advocates for changes to laws and regulations that would ultimately do nothing to help low-wage workers while greatly harming true independent contractors.
Jennifer Oliver O’Connell
Muscle Shoals, Ala.
The author, a small business owner and independent contractor, is a visiting contributor to the Center for Economic Opportunity at the Independent Women’s Forum.
Nikki Haley and a 2024 reckoning
To the Editor:
In my sixth decade of voting, I find myself with a different perspective. Age and electoral experience have made me a little less idealistic, a little more realistic and, frankly, a lot more scared.
2016 changed things for me. I wasn’t particularly worried when Donald Trump first came down the escalator. I didn’t think he would ever win the nomination. And as he won Republican delegates, I thought that wasn’t a bad thing. He would be the easiest candidate to beat.
Now only Nikki Haley stands between Mr Trump and the Republican nominee. Am I again falling into the potential trap of believing that Mr. Trump is unelectable — and the easiest candidate to beat?
President Biden has had incredible accomplishments, at home and abroad. His policies are by far the best of any candidate and I enthusiastically support him.
But given 2016, should I hope Republicans see the light of day and nominate Ms. Haley, who is far from perfect but, at least on the face of it, far less dangerous than Mr. Trump?
I might not like the outcome of a Biden-Haley race, but at least the survival of our democracy, and maybe even the world order, wouldn’t be on the ballot.
Shaker Heights, Ohio
Fears of Extinction: “The Real Deal”
To the editor:
Re “Extinction Panic Is Back, Right on Schedule,” by Tyler Austin Harper (Opinion guest essay, January 28):
Mr. Harper wants us to feel reassured that the real, life-changing threats to human well-being are nothing more than predictable bouts of “extinction panic” that temporarily upset global complacency. You know, take a few deep breaths and we’ll be fine.
I can’t predict how or when global warming will truly outpace our ability to mitigate its effects, or whether AI robots will ever replace human dominance. But I worry about two specific catastrophes that could rock our world immediately and deserve more than a “what’s my worry?” Academic dismissal as another cycle of extinction panic.
First, less than a year ago, the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned that we could soon face a pandemic far deadlier than Covid-19. Increased surveillance, prevention and treatment research to prevent and treat new pathogens must now be strengthened.
Second, Mr. Harper seems to dismiss the threat of nuclear conflict as merely a reduction in the Cold War phenomenon. Vladimir Putin’s finger is on the trigger of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, and volatile North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is increasingly obsessed with developing his own stockpile.
Add to that, the other seven nuclear-armed nations are always on high alert. And we should be concerned that Russia seems to be pulling out of one arms control deal after another.
So, no, Mr. Harper, this is much more than another outbreak of “extinction panic.” It’s the real deal.
The author, a pediatrician, is founding director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University.
Don’t cut Sociology
To the editor:
Re “Florida Cuts Sociology as a Core Course” (news article, January 28):
When Florida’s state university system dropped “Principles of Sociology” from its list of approved undergraduate majors, it wasn’t really about protecting innocent students from “awakening ideology,” as state Education Commissioner Manny claimed. Diaz Jr.
After all, Florida students had many options to meet the social studies requirement. Nobody forced them to take sociology. they could easily get something else. They chose it, in considerable numbers.
Sociology often focuses attention on issues of inequality, race and gender — topics Florida’s government would apparently prefer not to mention. Many students, however, welcome the opportunity to discuss and learn about such matters of vital public and often personal importance.
The effect of dropping this core credit will almost certainly reduce sociology enrollments and thus majors, perhaps setting departments up for elimination. The classes may then disappear, but the issues they address will remain, just as Gov. Ron DeSantis would like.
Daniel F. Chambliss
Clinton, New York
The author is professor emeritus of sociology at Hamilton College and co-author of “How College Works.”
The Fight of the Bulls
To the editor:
Re “After 500 years, Mexican bullfighting faces deadly challenge” (front page, February 4):
What kind of collective detachment does it take for 42,000 people to cheer and celebrate as bulls wail in agony as swords sink into their backs and die in a pool of blood?