When President Roosevelt passed the New Deal in the 1930s, it was
the most important piece of legislation for workers' rights in this country's
history. For the first time, it introduced fairness into the workplace equation
by giving workers a share of the economic pie that previously belonged only to business
The New Deal also set up an unspoken bargain. Employees will work 40
hours a week for a company, and in turn the company will pay them a livable
wage so they can have a piece of the American dream.
But that bargain started to unravel after World War II, and it was exacerbated by two pernicious trends: regressive taxation and de-unionization.
The wealthiest stopped paying their fair share in taxes, while workers lost
their seats at the bargaining table. Owners reclaimed more of the pie, while
their employees worked longer hours for lower wages.
You hear the echoes of this crumbled bargain in the calls of the 99% "occupiers." The bargain is officially over and many Americans are left to fend
What will replace the bargain? How will we restore income equality and
provide for the basic needs of workers? It's called the Quiet Revolution, and
it's driving our new sharing economy.
The Quiet Revolution is not a vocal movement or a policy proposal. It's
people buying local food, supporting community businesses, living green, and
sharing resources (time, money, and products). It's people attacking the system
by abdicating from it. It's people who don't want to work just to consume. They
understand that the earth's resources - and their finances - are limited, and
that the consumption path we're on isn't sustainable. They recognize that their
decisions have implications for society today, and for generations to come.
They are "360° people" who are aware of the ecological, societal, and financial
impact of their actions, and who want to connect to one another.
They also see that businesses and governments won't meet all their needs.
They know they need to build their own solutions to the challenges they face.
It's possible to see the Quiet Revolution almost everywhere: collective
purchasing and goods exchange (Zipcar and SnapGoods), solving social problems (Open Ideo), aggregating information (Ushahidi), financial lending (Prosper and Kickstarter), networking and connecting
(Connect.me), office space sharing (Loosecubes), teaching (Skillshare), and even child care (babysitting co-ops).
This movement is inadvertently creating a new economic engine that has
the potential to reorganize our economy. The Quiet Revolutions' purchasing
decisions could have a significant impact on what we expect from business in
We've been trained to believe that for businesses to be successful, they
have to rake in as much profit as possible and deliver short-term gains at all
costs. But the Quiet Revolution is creating a new social market ecosystem that
values transparency and responsibility.