Again, there's much truth to Shane's approach, but not much meaning. Expecting freelancers to create jobs is like hoping outlaws will spontaneously start building jails. Ain't gonna happen.
If it's not to create jobs, then what is the benefit of this sector? The answer is simple, if elusive for some.
Freelancers Don't Need a Job
For every independent worker that can make ends meet, there's a "job" somewhere that doesn't need to be created. Freelancers and other independent workers are like the government's teenage kids - they can basically take care of themselves, freeing up the parents to deal with the ones that need more help and attention.
While I have no data whatsoever, I get the feeling that communities with higher levels of self-employment suffer less during a downturn (like now) than those with lower levels of worker independence. Independent workers, my thinking goes, act as a kind of ballast, absorbing the impact through the network. As long as these workers can find work, unemployment is just another statistic.
And that, Mr. Shane, is what freelancers do. They create exactly 1 job: their own.