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'Sharing economy' surge creates labor conundrum

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Your two decades is a goodly amount of time.

20 years is also the difference in the average age of Japanese farmers 30 years ago versus today, despite all the wonderful protections that have left Japanese consumers without something as basic as butter.

I can not see how anyone could fail to think that Japan's policies have been a long term failure.

So trying a successful policy from overseas, without letting the vested interests sabotage it, would be unlikely to make things any worse for the people of Japan. With things as they are, what is the risk?

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If there is anything that two decades in Japan have taught me, it's that things that work overseas don't necessarily work in Japan, and vice versa.

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What fantasy world are you living in?

The fantasy is believing that the Japanese protection of its agricultural sector is helping, not harming, it over the long term.

See above - in the New Zealand case the sector expanded, not contracted, after protections were removed.

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It woudn't be so bad if everyone had free health care and education and could live in subsidized housing that was clean and well kept. Add to that job hour flexibility, working from home, and you have Utopia.

But in a society like the US where its every person for themselves and the government as well as society provides very few safety nets, its very perilous.

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"Choices" are there, but they aren't the choices that would be available had politicians not been permitted to meddle in it.

And the 'meddling' is a good thing as I've pointed out.

It is not that they are old that they don't matter, it's that they are old that indicates that the industry is dying anyway - that's with government protections from competition. Does this statistic not suggest to you that the government protections may actually be counterproductive?

No. Young people don't want to farm and live in the countryside. That doesn't suggest to me that the protections are counterproductive at all, it tells me that they are necessary so as not to gut the industry.

who are you calling 3rd world country farmers anyway?

The farmers from 3rd world countries.

Only wimps and losers would join an industry that is protected by the government.

What fantasy world are you living in? You are obviously not a businessman. You realize that you just called the entire Japanese automobile industry wimps and losers, right?

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The choice is there, you just don't like it.

"Choices" are there, but they aren't the choices that would be available had politicians not been permitted to meddle in it. Which is the point.

If the choice is between gutting the Japanese agriculture industry, or you paying more for butter, I think it's better that you pay more for butter.

In the case of butter, there isn't even a choice, there is just no butter. That worked out well, didn't it?

Ahh, they're old, so they don't matter. Got it.

It is not that they are old that they don't matter, it's that they are old that indicates that the industry is dying anyway - that's with government protections from competition. Does this statistic not suggest to you that the government protections may actually be counterproductive? Are there any unprotected industries in Japan where the average age of workers is comparably old?

what makes you think that a gutted agriculture industry that has to compete with 3rd world country farmers will attract any young people to it?

Government protections have done the gutting, and who are you calling 3rd world country farmers anyway? An industry in which people are free to innovate and try new ideas (and have success and gain wealth as a result) is an industry that will attract young people to it. People go where there are rewards to be reaped. Only wimps and losers would join an industry that is protected by the government.

Cutting profit margins and making the industry much more difficult to compete in

They haven't competed until now, so productivity is poor and could be improved a lot.

I suggest an open mind. How about having a read of this: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/09/trade-tpp-dairy-idUSL1N10H2OT20150809

Some choice quotes:

"New Zealand's own dairy farmers have survived the removal of government subsidies during the 1980s and 1990s"

"It was traumatic for some people but those that got their act together very quickly, they survived,"

"You feel sorry for them, but the world moves on and you've got to go with it."

deregulation "was one of those moments that made us wake up and grow as an industry."

"Everyone said at the time, 'what a disaster, the sky is falling in,' but if you stand back and look at it now after 30 years, our industry ... is nearly four times the size it was then."

Hardly a disaster... and how ever did they compete with 3rd world country farmers? They got better, and won. Kudos.

Japan would gain advantage by being an early mover, IMO. The sooner you start, the sooner you get ahead. If one really cares about agriculture in Japan, deregulation is the only way.

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Wall Street put millions of people out of work overnight, and now the tech sector is picking them up for pennies on the dollar.

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strangeland AUG. 10, 2015 - 12:45PM JST Ahh, they're old, so they don't matter. Got it. As for your logic that gutting the agriculture industry will somehow make humans thrive, what makes you think that a gutted agriculture industry that has to compete with 3rd world country farmers will attract any young people to it? That defies logic. They are having a hard enough time attracting people now, while the industry hasn't been gutted.

Japan has it's own shares of problem and they are hesitant on problems of TPP agreement. If you didn't know, in a few years, Japan government farm subsidies will be eliminated and most of these older farmers has to learn to survive on their own. I am not sure if the criticism of Japan is warranted for not importing enough agricultural products. Japan already imports 60 percent of its food supply from other countries and food safety is a sensitive issue. By comparison, the U.S. imports about a tenth of its food supply and tests less than 1 percent of shipments. Sure, Japan could import cheaper California rice, but what about rural farmers in Japan that will no longer will be able compete and survive on farming. Then what? Bankrupt farmers will be asking the government for more handouts. The J-government's future plans are that they are trying to maintain stability of farmers in their own country first.

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It's not because they make "too make money", it's because they don't produce what consumers want and demand, and yes the prices for what they produce are relatively exorbitant compared to what one pays overseas. I'd like the option to buy different quality product for different prices. What is wrong with me for feeling like I want the right to choose?

Nothing wrong with you feeling like you want to choose. If they were blocking foreign imports altogether, there would be a problem. But having to pay more for foreign imports is not restricting your choice, it's just making you pay more for it. The choice is there, you just don't like it.

If the choice is between gutting the Japanese agriculture industry, or you paying more for butter, I think it's better that you pay more for butter.

The average age of farmers in Japan is 67.

Ahh, they're old, so they don't matter. Got it.

As for your logic that gutting the agriculture industry will somehow make humans thrive, what makes you think that a gutted agriculture industry that has to compete with 3rd world country farmers will attract any young people to it? That defies logic. They are having a hard enough time attracting people now, while the industry hasn't been gutted. Cutting profit margins and making the industry much more difficult to compete in will pretty much ensure no young people will go into the industry. Then you suddenly have a country that is entirely dependent upon foreign imports for their agriculture. This is irresponsible at best, a security risk at worst.

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These new industries based on new technologies ought be embraced with open arms.

So what if people choose to live independently of "big government"? People do not exist in order to provide a reason for politicians and the bureaucracies they create to exist. They exist for themselves. Shame on those politicians. They should get proper jobs themselves, rather than strive to create dependency amongst the voters.

“In effect, on-demand work is a reversion to the piece work of the 19th century—when workers had no power and no legal rights, took all the risks, and worked all hours for almost nothing.”

It's called freedom and independence. People taking risks is a good thing, they stand a chance of making loads of money as a result. If no one ever took any risks, they would be living in a state destined for failure and misery.

Strangerland,

So many people here hate on the agriculture industry in Japan, because they make too much money.

It's not because they make "too make money", it's because they don't produce what consumers want and demand, and yes the prices for what they produce are relatively exorbitant compared to what one pays overseas. I'd like the option to buy different quality product for different prices. What is wrong with me for feeling like I want the right to choose?

Well, that money supports the rural areas and makes for a higher quality of life for everyone in the area.

This is not the case. The average age of farmers in Japan is 67. These rural areas are dying. Humans thrive when they have to compete. The farmers haven't had to compete due to inane government protections, and that is why populations in their communities are dwindling. What is needed in Japan is freedom. Where there is freedom there is opportunity, and opportunity means chances to make money - that is what would support rural areas (attract younger people back) and make for a higher quality of life. Most young people don't choose to work in dying industries.

Or are you one of those people that think each person's taxes should only pay for that which that person uses? Maybe we should only have to pay for the roads we actually drive on, the schools we actually go to etc? Because that's not how taxes work.

What part of taxation says that one politically favoured sector of the economy ought get special protections from free market competition?

Educator60,

Because they grow the food that gives you life

The food from overseas is no good as an option?

Todd Topolski,

Thumbs up.

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@wtfjapan

"Why should somebody who choose ti live un the city have to support somebody in the country."

Because they grow the food that gives you life (unless you eat only rock bottom price imported food grown in conditions I'd rather not think about. And no, that doesn't mean I think there are no problems with Japanese agriculture practices, but I'd rather deal with the ones I can see for myself).

Are you one of those that think people with no children shouldn't have to pay for schools even though the educate all the people that will serve and help you including doctors etc?

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Why should somebody who choose ti live un the city have to support somebody in the country.

Because Japan isn't just the city, it's also the country.

Or are you one of those people that think each person's taxes should only pay for that which that person uses? Maybe we should only have to pay for the roads we actually drive on, the schools we actually go to etc? Because that's not how taxes work.

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So many people here hate on the agriculture industry in Japan, because they make too much money. Well, that money supports the rural areas and makes for a higher quality of life for everyone in the area.

No the tax funded welfare industry that is JA comes most from the pockets of those in the cities. Why should somebody who choose ti live un the city have to support somebody in the country. Most in the cities struggle to pay the bills each week without getting free handouts byvthe government. What makes a rural person special to a urban one?

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Social safety net? There is nothing new about contingent worker, I have been doing it for 2 decades,in IT consulting and I make a lot of money doing it. The politicians real issue is they can't handle the fact a large number of people are not dependent on their social net and worse, the politicians have a harder time pillaging money from contingent work. The only role government has is to ensure the business,involved is not scaming people. Thats it. Anything else is just bureaucrats trying to get money, they otherwise can't get their greedy hands on.

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"flexible workforce" Ha ha! We're a bunch of suckers. The libertarian 19th century has finally arrived.

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The part of the economy the article talks about isn't the sharing economy at all, that's the wrong term entirely.

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"Sharing economy"

What the hell does that even mean? More people 'sharing' a smaller and smaller piece of the economic pie?

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Not hotel employees, hotel owners. Joe Public is also sidestepping regulations which other honest hotel / guest house owners are abiding by. It is unfair competition. The playfield should be the same for everyone.

Airbnb and hotels aren't equivalent though. With a hotel, you get concierge service, room service, restaurants, assistance with directions and calling taxis. With Airbnb you get a room. I stayed in Airbnb once, and while the price was quite good as compared to an equivalent hotel room, being in a city with which I was unfamiliar and no concierge or amenities made me realize I much prefer hotels. I'd rather pay the extra cash for a hotel, than stay in Airbnb. So I don't see Airbnb replacing hotels any time, or really ever.

Every company wants free labor and no rules, but it does not mean that it will be good for the society in general.

I agree with this - I hate the race to the bottom that society currently pushes. So many people here hate on the agriculture industry in Japan, because they make too much money. Well, that money supports the rural areas and makes for a higher quality of life for everyone in the area.

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Collaborative consumption is a more accurate potreyal of this rising economy. A good trend I think that takes power away from large companies and distibutes it to the people. Yes, Airbnb are making huge profits but joe pulbic running the guest houses, rooms etc are getting a much larger share of the profits than they would if they were simply hotel employees.

Not hotel employees, hotel owners. Joe Public is also sidestepping regulations which other honest hotel / guest house owners are abiding by. It is unfair competition. The playfield should be the same for everyone. Other people who are abiding by the rules are honest, hard working people. They do not deserve their hard work to be undermined by those who have no regard for rules and regulations.

Every company wants free labor and no rules, but it does not mean that it will be good for the society in general.

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Collaborative consumption is a more accurate potreyal of this rising economy. A good trend I think that takes power away from large companies and distibutes it to the people. Yes, Airbnb are making huge profits but joe pulbic running the guest houses, rooms etc are getting a much larger share of the profits than they would if they were simply hotel employees.

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So in this so-called "sharing" economy, who is sharing what for whom and with what impacts for individuals and society? It would seem, based on growing income and wealth gaps, that more people are sharing a smaller share of the declining value derived from their labour and a very finite group is reaping huge profits. The challenge is how to counter such inequality. In the past, it was easy to unite workers living near an industrial plant and demand better labour benefits and worker rights. Now capital is mobile and workers are disorganized. Perhaps what is needed is a national or global labour union app, to organize and counter these other apps and devices, as well as trade deals, that have workers competing against each other to drive down the value of their work.

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