Guest Joel is wrong

Guest Joel  (he hardly looks insane or wrong, right?) is wrong. Only his arguments are so cleverly wrought it is possible that I may be simply my usual obstreperous self and looking for ways to prove my guest wrong. Which is hardly hospitable, but there ya go.

Joel will tell you some compelling arguments about why you/me/we don’t want jobs. He’ll even slyly refer to me in this part of his virtual book tour as being someone who loves her work – and telling me why I am wrong!! (Huffy, pouty face and little balloon of revenge thoughts.)

Thing is, he might be saying we’ll all be entrepreneurs and contract workers and this will be better than my union job. And, I will say all the contract workers and entrepreneurs worry more than I do, work more than I do (at least some of the time – they certainly don’t take all summer off and Christmas and Spring Break), and often make about the same money as I do. Who is right? You be the judge. Read what he has to say as he stands at the podium of my virtual literary cafe/book store and then read his book.

Come on back and tell me I’m wrong. I dare ya!

In a Financial Utopia There Are No Jobs

I’m an idealist. I spend my whole life in the interstitial spaces between what is and what could be.

I’m a chucker of rocks into shrubbery. What flies out is far more interesting than what flew in. As an idealist, I’m fond of making bold sweeping statements in absolute terms.

During my virtual book tour (this is stop #10 on your dance cards, ladies and gentlemen) there has been resistance to my claim that you, yes you, right there, do not want a job.

Some folks think, yes, yes I do, thank you very much.

I know. I know that’s what you think you want. While I’ve touched on it briefly as the train pulled away from those other stations, today, I’m going to lay out my utopian vision for our financial future.

It does not include jobs. And since I actually believe this, idealist that I am, you can want a job all you want, but before long, there ain’t gonna be any jobs.

Why Jobs Exist

A quick overview, because you’re sharp enough to do the research yourself: jobs exist because the industrial revolution created a need for factory cogs. Pulling Lever #4B all day every day required a very different work force than did the village-oriented world of commerce before.

For millennia, a young man grew up as his father’s apprentice, or, sometimes, another man’s apprentice, learning a trade which would become his livelihood. (In really enlightened cultures, even daughters were allowed to work.)

Everyone was self-employed.

Slowly, as sons and even daughters went off to apprentice elsewhere, and as factories needed more and more cogs, what had once been a family business, self-employment, became a small employer.

Why Jobs Don’t Have to Exist

I have a friend who works for Boeing. I have friends who are teachers in various school systems in different countries. I have a friend who’s a chemist in an non-government environmental agency.

And they all, every one, love their work.

I am not saying people should change their work.

I am saying, they don’t really want a job.

Let’s imagine the scenario most folks immediately jump to: a worker in a huge company like Boeing. How can you do that unless you have jobs?

How Can You Run an Enterprise Without Jobs?

In a perfect world, they could do exactly what they’re doing now, but as a contractor, with more control.

Wikipedia and Linux are two classic examples that show a worldwide group of people can create and realize a grand vision.

Did you know that every single Volvo is handmade by a 6-person team? Each team is almost entirely autonomous. Small teams mean that when someone is missing, it’s felt by their closest workmates. Reduces absenteeism by a huge proportion.

What if every single person there were a contractor? What if everyone were there because they wanted to be, because they believed the vision, and not just because it was a paycheck? I know that in any large corporation, there are lots and lots of people who believe. But there are also people who are just there putting in time, and if there was another way to make a buck, they’d go do it.

The corporate employee model makes it easy for slackers to slip under the radar. It makes it easy for CEOs to rake in millions, even when the company is suffering.

What if that 6-person department had the authority to fire a slacker and replace them with a believer? What if the company as a whole could fire the CEO without severance, for non-performance?

Make It Personal

If each individual were aware that acting in the best interest of the company was the only way they kept their contract, everyone would behave differently.

And what if you could spend 3 days a week at Boeing, and one day a week working for a videographer, and one day a week taking classes in trade for some skill of your own?

You’re used to showing up at the office at a particular time, 5 days a week, and whenever they call for overtime.

What if you went in when there was work to do, and left when it was done, but still made the same money because you were paid for outcomes, not hours?

Why Jobs Won’t Exist Much Longer

The beast is already dead, but like a dinosaur, it just doesn’t know it yet.

The social changes of the internet and the financial frustrations of most of the planet’s inhabitants are among forces we can’t control. Most people, though, are like Cnut, commanding the tide not to come in.

Some will fight tooth and nail to the very end, until the day their job is shot out from under them. Others will see the ambush and jump at the last moment.

Those with insight, who see what is instead of only what they wish, will have a spare horse standing by — their own horse, instead of a loaner.

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8 comments to Guest Joel is wrong

  • [...] 10th — Caitlyn James' Imagining Better: I titled it In a Financial Utopia There Are No Jobs but Caitlyn gave it her own title: Guest Joel is Wrong. You should weigh in on the brouhaha. You [...]

  • [...] 10th — Caitlyn James' Imagining Better: I titled it In a Financial Utopia There Are No Jobs but Caitlyn gave it her own title: Guest Joel is Wrong. You should weigh in on the brouhaha. You [...]

  • Ah, but there will always be some things that can’t be done when the customers aren’t there, and have to be done when they are – retail, or anything inbound, come easily to mind. Those will always be *jobs*: “There must be someone here from X time ’til Y time, when we say we’re open/available.” And they *will* involve both crazy-busy- and thumb-twiddling-times. (Unless you’re understaffed, in which case your Customer Service is surely suffering, for want of prompt attention and full focus.)

    What say you, J?

  • Tamara Hunter

    How do you decide to categorize something as a “job” or “not a job”?

    I am a lawyer and I work on a contract basis for a large law firm. I get a percentage of the cash I bring in through my work. Within minimal parameters, I can work as much or as little as I choose. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Sounds a bit like a small business, right? Yet, I do a fair amount of administrative stuff and client relations/marketing activity and colleague support for which I don’t get paid. Some of this I do because I think it will have a long term benefit for me (happy clients who will come back to me down the road or refer others). Some of this I do because it is good for my overall firm’s well-being and my colleagues’ legal practices (and because my colleagues do the same for me). Some of it is just what is needed to keep things flowing and functioning smoothly. Some of it I think is stupid, but it is just what I need to do to play in this sandbox. I also do continuing educational activities (teaching and learning) for which I don’t get paid both to stay current with new developments and to give back to the “profession”. There are certain firm policies and procedures I have to follow.

    Doesn’t this sound like a “job” in a lot of ways??

    And, another thing – what about the services we have decdided, as a society, to pay for collectively through taxes? People who provide those services for a salary (teachers, judges, police officers, nurses, etc..) pretty much have to have “jobs”, don’t they? I wouldn’t want to have to hire police services privately – there are all kinds of problems with that, including the fact that I don’t want those people to be profit-driven. I don’t think it would make for a good society.

    So there! : )

  • Aha, Joel! The gauntlets have been thrown. Let the games begin. :-)

  • Okay, let’s define “job”, shall we?

    A job is where someone else takes the risks and reaps the rewards, where you simply do as you’re told and get a paycheck. And, as a general rule, where you have just one of those situations.

    Vague, I know. I’ll refine as I go.

    Karen: Imagine there are four grocery stores in your town. Why can’t all the checkers, stockers, whoever, simply be contractors, arranging their own hours, pay, etc. with as many of the stores as they want? Suddenly each store can choose from a pool of contractors, causing good competition, and each contractor can spread their financial base over as many sources as they want. When BigStore goes out of business, they’ll be competing for more hours at the remaining three stores, but they won’t be unemployed.

    The scheduling and all that could be almost entirely automated, by the way. Each store compiles a few simple heuristics (the grocery industry has some of the most advanced data analysis tools on the planet) they could determine hours needed, types of workers, vacations, the whole shebang.

    Customer service? One of the largest employers in San Diego has ALL their phone-only staff work from home. If all you do is talk on a phone, you work from home, period. Why not split your work time between a bunch of employers instead of only one?

    Tamara, your description sounds exactly precisely like being self-employed. If you were to make the small change of setting up your own office, hiring staff, and went out on your own, how is that not self-employment? Right now you’re doing it, you say, for a large law firm. Wouldn’t you prefer the safety net of doing it for three, so when one terminates your contract you’re still afloat?

    As for police, fire, medical, etc. — I do NOT want the fireman who comes to my home to be thinking he’s “doing a job.” Those people have, historical, considered it more a calling, a life. They are not, nor will they ever be, profit-driven. The few who are would be sorted right out of the pool.

    Same with teachers. Do any of us think Caitlyn shows up in September because her “job” is how she can earn the most money with the least effort?

    Some services should be guaranteed by the State because, as citizens, we surrender certain freedoms in exchange for the benevolent supervision of the government.

    Still, why would being a fireman have to be “a job” ? Why can’t a fireman work as a freelancer? What if he wanted to work as a fireman 3 weeks out of the month and work in the library for the 4th week?

    Part of the problem with the “job” mentality is the equation of putting all our work ability in a single basket. If all employer/employee relationships were changed to contractor relationships, everyone would think harder about what they do, and why they do it. More people would choose more meaningful work.

    Financially, it would move far more toward a meritocracy. Imbalances would sort themselves out to some extent under Adam Smith’s invisible hand.

  • Plotting. Them, not me. I would never plot. I draw and shoot.

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