Let me start this by saying that Steve Palina has a lot of worthwhile things to say. Just because I think his 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job is pretty flawed does not mean that I disagree with everything else and don’t find other great things on his site to read. I do. Just not his 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job.
1. Income for What You’re Best At
First of all, people have different gifts and abilities, as well as resources. It doesn’t follow that the people whose best assets are their own labor for others are stupid or dumb. A brain surgeon, for example, is going to need someone to provide resources such as medical equipment. It is no reflection on his intelligence if he works for a hospital.
Palina’s recommendation of building an income-producing system is only smart if your resulting income is superior to what you will make by “trading time for money.” (this isn’t simply a matter of which brings in more revenue; maybe you would rather make less and work less).
Of course, if you’ve never thought about finding a way to generate revenue without having to “trade time for money,” then reading Palina’s essay might be the best thing that ever happened to you. But that won’t be everyone and it has nothing to do with your intelligence.
The fact is that not everyone can get income in this way. The economy thrives on diversity. There will always be people who work for a living and they aren’t dumb because they do so.
Finally, with a salaried position, you are not simply paid for when you work. Most business owners will tell you that sometimes things are slow and other times they are not. Yet they pay their employees regardless unless business slows down to the point where they are forced to lay people off. What you are paid for is not purely your work. You are paid, essentially, to be on retainer because someone appreciates what you can do for him.
2. Gaining Experience
There are plenty of ways to gain experience, but to be paid while you do so is not a bad way to do it. There have been jobs for which the demand has suddenly ceased, leaving people unequipped to find a comparable income in the marketplace. But, while this has happend, it is also common to find people who have found their jobs lead them in directions they would have never have gone otherwise, providing them with a new way of making of living. A man gets a job doing website design for a company ends up in project management with a much better income (and eventually has the connections and skills to go into business for himself).
Of course, a great deal of the experience really consists in meeting other people, both customers and suppliers and bringing them together. And, besides experience, there is a reputation to build up so that, when the time is right, you might get to move on up into self employment or investing in some asset that generates revenue.
On the other hand, your growth in experience and relationships may make you become a great asset at your job so that you don’t need to do anything else. Maybe not. But you never know and there is no reason to burn bridges unless you are sure it is in your best interests.
Learning to work with others is a basic human skill, including others who you do not like and who have too much authority. You can try to live life like these situations are completely avoidable. For those who choose such a life, ninety-nine percent of the time they will become worse than the problems they want to avoid. How many victorious rebellions end up creating situations that are worse than the ones they overthrew?
Lets assume Steve’s pejorative description is accurate: jobs are domesticating. Even so, systems of domestication are not always evil for all people at all stages of their lives. Overbearing mothers who try to keep their children from growing up are not an argument against all mothers and all families. The fact that people (maybe many people who will be helped by Steve’s article) will be more hindered than helped by a job, does not mean that “domestication” is always a bad thing.
4. Buying Power
The reason why Walmart can sell at low prices is because they can buy in high quantities and get products sold to them for less. Then they pass on the savings.
Likewise, companies can provide things for you that would be much harder to get if you were to try to go into business with no starting capital of your own. Investors and owners provide equipment you would have to acquire somehow. Other members of the team find customers who want the work you do. Teams can often do more together than any one member could do by himself. This is not always true. People discover they can work more productively on their own at some point. More power to them. But claiming that a company represents “too many mouths” to feed, simply isn’t true in all cases.
5. Reducing Risk
When someone has something of value to offer, the main challenge is spreading the news–finding the people who need the value offered so that they know who to go to. Getting a job means you don’t have to do all that marketing yourself. You just need to reach one person who already has a network.
There is a trade-off of risk here. But usually, if you do a half-decent job and learn some basic social skills, keeping your job is easy. And, you can always save and invest so that you can soften the blow if you are fired.
6. Living In the Herd
One of the basic values one needs to have to be a successful independent business man is to not burn bridges when one is involved in a disagreement. You never know when the person annoying you will be in a position to provide you with something you need. No matter how idiotic a person is being, it is best to extricate yourself in a way that does not leave anyone unnecessarily offended.
Likewise, just because the word “boss” derives from “master” and “bovine”–I’ll not challenge the veracity of the linguistic connection since I have done no research on the subject. But if you can only think of your boss–simply because he is your boss–as an evil bovine master, then I doubt you will be any good as either an employee or an independent business man.
7. Money is given to you by other people; you don’t give it to yourself
The reason why people more often ask their bosses for raises rather than investing in their own income-producing business is because the former is usually much easier than the latter. Not many people go into their own business or live on investments and there is a reason for that: it is much more likely to fail.
I think it is great if you want to go for it, but don’t pretend that earning whatever you want is some sort of easy accomplishment that everyone else would achieve if Only They Weren’t So Stupid.
8. Your Social Life is what you want.
People hang out with people they like and usually who are like them. Sad but true. That is the same whether you are an employee or not.
9. Freedom is making cost/benefits decisions
Corporate rules and regulations can be insane, but usually they are caused by the litigious and over-regulated government-mandated environment that effects all of us whether we have jobs or not. Should you put up with it? Not if you don’t want to. But don’t make that decision on the pretense that you can go to a realm where your behavior is not ever going to be irrationally constrained. It will be as long as you deal with other people. And you will have to deal with other people in order to get money.
10. Fantasizing is not courage
If you are the kind of person who completely conforms to what everyone around you is doing, then you are not going to be a great entrepreneur nor are you going to really excel in your workplace. Either way you need to stand out (especially in possessing the wisdom to know how to stand out).
Blaming all your attitude problems on having a job is a step in the wrong direction. You may indeed be the sort of person who needs to leave, but you won’t do any good on your own if you can’t show greater maturity toward your supervisors and co-workers than to blame them for your own thinking.
Quit Your Job?
Then go for it. But be wise. Do it at the right time and have a plan. If you can find a way to produce passive income then more power to you.
But there is no shame in holding down a job. And it may produce more for you than what you could produce any other way. Why claim otherwise?