Many of us think about going freelance one time or another, especially in economic downturns. Thousands of people have done so, and for some reason all of them want to recommend others to follow suit. Some even establish their freelance life by teaching how to be a freelance. (I have no idea why Bernie Madoff suddenly popped into my mind)
Then why aren't we, office workers, rushing into freelance life? We have no shortage of complaint about our life as office-politicians. Freelancers, in general, are not sorry about their career choice. Are we holding ourselves back because we don't know what will happen, as many of us paycheck receivers say in unison?
I think it is the opposite. Office workers do not become freelance easily because we know, or we think we know, what freelance means, through how we treat freelancers (=contractors) from our cubicles.
If you have worked in a 9-to-5 office for more than a few years, you might have had a chance to work with contractors and freelancers for short-term projects and subcontracting gigs. Maybe you might even hired them. Then try to remember how you treated them. Do you want to switch positions?
From an established company's point of view, freelancers = fillers. Companies hire them to fill voids created by schedule mismatch and labor shortage. In other words, they need contract workers because no one in the office wants to do that job.
From an office worker's point of view, we pass the least desirable works to contractors, or witness our coworkers do so. Forget all the glorious readings about the fabulous freedom outside the cubicle; our own action teaches us loudest about what kind of life exists outside our mental prison. One reason why we want them to be "external" contractors is because we don't need to face them.
It's easy to say that we need to remind ourselves that we need to treat everybody the way we want to be treated. We like that phrase because it gives us temporary moral boost while changing nothing about our behavior.