The shadow economy
Salon is running a series of articles on the 'shadow economy' - untaxed, unregulated. This bit caught my eye -
"Half the workers of the world," writes Robert Neuwirth in his new book "Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy," work in jobs that are "off the books - neither registered nor regulated." The combined economic activity of these 1.8 billion workers adds up to $10 trillion. If the informal economy were squeezed into a single political structure, observes Neuwirth, it would be the second largest economy in the world.
For many economists, labor organizers, government leaders and law enforcement officers, those numbers represent a huge problem: a tragic panorama of exploited workers, criminal activity and crippling shortfalls in government revenue. But where others see darkness, Neuwirth - reporting from China, Brazil, Nigeria and elsewhere - witnesses something more promising. In a world of growing inequality and faltering "real" economic growth, the shadow economy is where job creation is actually happening. Calling upon the most meager of resources and without any government assistance, people are somehow finding a way to survive, and even prosper.
"Stealth of Nations" makes a provocative argument: Instead of demonizing the informal economy, we should embrace it. Left to their own devices, people are finding ways to create jobs for themselves. The informal economy may ignore borders, trample over intellectual property laws, and thrive on bribery and other rule-bending behavior. To a mainstream economist, it may represent a fundamentally inefficient way of organizing economic behavior. But to Neuwirth, the informal economy is something we've got to learn from, coexist with and possibly even nurture. Because the world needs all the avenues for upward mobility that can possibly be mustered. "Employment," he writes, "has more value than efficiency." snip / end quote
The whole series is interesting reading, but the link goes to this particular article. IOW, rethinking those pirated CD's - the basis of a whole other economy, supporting millions.......
Here is a link that might be useful: link