Dan Rasband

Modern Slavery

Freedom Comes with a Cost

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I read a couple of interesting and somewhat related articles this morning. The first one, about Google doing away with its 20% time (Google’s “20% time,” which brought you Gmail and AdSense, is now as good as dead), explores Google’s new policies regarding 20% time, noting that it is pretty much dead, and wondering if this is a good or bad thing for its employees and whether other copycat companies will follow suit. The second article, entitled “People simply empty out”, was a letter from the writer Charles Bukowski about how he left the 9-to-5 day job and how it had been to him a sort of modern slavery.

I am in agreement with the sentiment of the articles that the 9-to-5 work-for-someone-else day job is not great for the human soul. We humans need autonomy and thrive on being able to be creative. Or at least a lot of us do. But working on someone else’s projects from 9am to 5pm (and often earlier to later) can be draining, especially in certain industries. And yet people get stuck. They aren’t paid enough to have a try at starting their own businesses, or even pay their monthly bills a lot of the time.

And that truly sucks.

But! The idea that we should be entitled to autonomy, or better pay when working for The Man, is somewhat ludicrous in my opinion. Companies have to do what they have to do to keep employees around, for their ultimate profit, of course, but they have no obligation to pay employees for more than their work is worth.

While working at StarrTech (now part of Anthology Marketing Group), AltaStreet and now Agency Fusion, I’ve seen how salaries are the number one expense for businesses. This may not be true for large companies like Google, but it is nevertheless a large expense. And so it makes sense to pay your employees an amount that is high enough to help prevent them from leaving, but as low as possible. I should say, it makes sense from a profit/business standpoint.

There are two things going on here: 1) the market, to a certain extent, dictates people’s salaries and 2) education and culture are training people to join the mindless 9-to-5 day job, so kids don’t know better until it’s too late. And another thing: culture seems to dictate that we need to buy as many things, as nice of cars, and as big of houses as we possibly can, which forces us into financial slavery. This is all self-inflicted, though!

I myself work a 9-to-6ish job, but luckily it’s not mindless, and I have a lot of autonomy. But that doesn’t change the fact that I have placed my financial future in the hands of one man: my boss. For many people, there really might not be a way out. Many have too much debt, too much attachment to things, or a lack of education, or a lack of a visa. But the rest of us can get over the attachment to things and, if we work at it, the debt. Then we become free to choose who we work for and when, or if we are going to work for someone else at all.

Freedom comes with a cost nowadays. It comes with waking up early and going to bed late so that you can educate yourself. It comes with working side jobs and building things in your spare time. It comes with diligence and perseverence, and requires motivation and will power. Decide today to be your own woman or man, and take hold of your future now by taking control of your today.