The Labor Department’s new classification rules could give workers for companies like Uber and DoorDash more rights — if they ever take effect.

So reads the line, underneath the title, of a recent Vox article by Rachel M. Cohen titled “The coming fight over the gig economy, explained,” Vox, October 12, 2022.

What that line doesn’t even hint at is that if the Biden rules on gig work prevail, the federal government will disrespect one of the most fundamental rights people have: the right to choose whether to engage in contract work.

It reminds me of a story that Duke University economist Michael Munger likes to tell about his time in Germany. He saw an older lady with an empty shopping cart that she was returning to the store and, being the gentleman he is, he tried to take it from her to return and save her the trouble. He got into a tug of war with the lady until a policeman came along and explained that when you return your shopping cart, you get back the Euro that you had put in the slot to get the cart. She saw him as trying to steal from her rather than doing her a favor.

Similarly, millions of workers don’t see the federal government as giving them rights but as refusing to recognize their right.

Mike Munger had an excuse: he didn’t know the German practice. What’s the Biden Labor Department’s, and the Vox headline writer’s, excuse?