As I said in my own story, I believe that at the heart of independence is the freedom to try different things, especially if times are difficult and you are having trouble making ends meet. In many other countries, and even in this country long ago, it was possible to pull yourself up through nontraditional employment, whether it was as a vendor, a handyman, housekeeper, porter, or a driver. Today you could add mechanic, appliance repairman, or various computer related jobs to that list. The freedom to set a personal schedule and make money through several small jobs is all the opportunity many people need. Sadly, the city has cracked down on nontraditional employment for years. To drive a taxi, legally, for example, one must obtain a $200,000 medallion permit. Rather than make the business more egalitarian, this has enabled successful garages to accumulate medallion cabs which are rented to new drivers at rates that almost prohibit their advancement. And this is the result of city laws. A small scale contractor has to go through an obstacle course in order to dispose of a small quantity of job site trash. Even a family advertising a garage sale on the corner lamppost risks a fine. When does anyone say "Stop?"
Last year I used to seek interesting items in the trash as I drove my pickup around: old aquariums, furniture, and scrap metal to sell for a few cents a pound. I was stopped by an armed sanitation cop and warned that I could be fined $2000 for "stealing" trash. When I asked, hypothetically about the little old lady who pushes a shopping cart around looking for cans.... he replied that she was fair game as well. It turns out that since she didn't purchase the soda, she is not legally entitled to the 5cent refund. You can't make this stuff up.
It doesn't seem to me a coincidence that the city is stopping people from entering industries where it already has a monopoly. For example, the city charges $2 a bus ride and claims to be broke, while privateers can charge 12-25% less and make a profit. Rather than streamline the operation and cut frills funded by taxpayers many of whom who don't even ride the bus, the city would rather criminalize the competition. Its definitely easier than competing fairly.
I am not saying that all economic problems can be solved with nontraditional work, but for those who have skills and drive to succeed this way, nontraditional work can serve as a dignified means to provide for basic needs, and even advance. The city should not interfere who are capable of success, and then focus its resources on empowering those who are not.
I would support the following:
1. Less regulation of nontraditional employment
2. Deregulate private cab and bus service to provide business opportunity and needed competition for the MTA
3. Encourage green, sustainable and economically valuable pedicab industry
4. Recognize economic value of street vending
5. Repeal laws which classify curbside rubbish as city property, in order to stimulate private scrap collection and salvaging business
6. Encourage for profit recycling of all recyclables to promote opportunity, improve lifestyle of poor, and clean streets.
7. Deregulate street based advertising and allow public posts to be used as trading posts and community message boards.
8. Permit easier public access to city dumps, especially for small scale construction