Insecurity

There will be a lot more of this to come. Excerpts from here.

In July 2005, the last time we saw unemployment this low, the savings rate was 1.9 percent of personal disposable income. Today the savings rate is 5.4 percent. Nobody is spending because today’s job quality is so low.

Counter-intuitive, no? Savings earn zero – or cost us to maintain – and yet Americans are saving at decade-high levels.

Nowhere in the job numbers assembled by the Census Bureau and the rest of Washington’s finest minds is there a category for those taking a job for less money and fewer benefits.

No. The participation rate remains at a 40 year low. 94,000,000 people of working age no longer do so.

Consumers are scared of what will happen when the Fed begins raising rates in earnest. When it tightened the first ¼ point, interest rates jumped 1 percent to 2 percent on many credit-card accounts — the last bastion of liquidity for the middle class.

Horror story. If that last statement is true, we need to make sure we’re not in that particular category. The savings rate tells us that we are doing what we can to avoid those cards and their awful rates.

Save. Find and create income. Spend less. Invest. They are the goals.

Wall of Workers

The machines are coming. The machines will take your job, and then what? What will we do with ourselves?

This is a problem that will affect us all. Even if you are self-employed, nimble, creative, resourceful and hard-working, the rest of us will drag you down. Thank decades of creeping socialism for seeding us with the stink of entitlement.

It will affect us all because we’re mostly unable to find new ways to create valuable jobs. Making things will not require industrial revolution-style hordes any more, which leads to the inevitable: a wall of unemployed workers is a-building.

While fewer and fewer people will be needed for manual and manual/intelligent input to make stuff, there is no matching demand elsewhere. Designing new cellphones and devices won’t employ 1,2oo people from the Chrysler plant that just closed. Is there truly a pent-up demand for high-end handbag purveyors, or fancy Italian suits? Or re-modeling shows on the teev? When you’re not finding that few thou in your checking account each month, what then?

The wall of workers is coming.

Jobs Blow

My job is at the center of stuff to change. That and figuring a way to make central banks irrelevant.

My job sucks because I have no control over anything. Responsibility. Requirements. Duties. All of that side, but none of the input allowing for improvement. In current parlance, we’d call it an asymmetric arrangment – I get the work, they get the symmetry.

The lesson is clear. I have seen really well-paid jobs, and really poorly paid jobs. They are both unsatisfying in their own way, which tells me that the money is only a by-product. What I really want is to make my own way.

My idea about jobs is different now too. One can create a job in which self-determination is integral. Some folks need the security of others taking responsibility, but can do wonderful, creative, productive hours of work within that framework.

There’s a goal: to start a business in which people work for me, but are motivated by the way they can also satisfy their ambition.

Work A Day

Thirty-seven years. That’s how long I’ve been a worker, in one form or another.

That’s way too long. Let me clarify: that’s way too long to work in a conventional ten-hours-per-day-weekends-off arrangement. Spending a fixed amount of time per day creating wealth for someone else sounds so Dickensian. Visions of 18th century English cotton mills and coal mines come to mind. I shudder at the horror.

And yet we still keep this as the standard model. This worked (pardon the pun) when everyone’s input to the workplace was more-or-less equal.

For drones, this is acceptable. But if you created something brilliant, or applied insight to solve a problem or became supremely popular with clients and customers, your worth was aggregated with everybody else. Sure, bonuses and awards help, but you’re still rewarded by a paycheck reflecting your peers’ ability, not your own.

So perhaps it works for most folks…but definitely not all.

If we lived in a task or goal-oriented world, this would not stand. If you have a specific goal and achieve that with two hours of work per day, why must you stay for another six? Isn’t a half-day of focused activity better than a whole say spent mostly cruising Amazon? Get your work done, and go do something else.

This is why people – ambitious and adventurous people – create a job for themselves. This used to be known as starting your own business, but I like to think about it differently. First, create a job. Find others to come along for the ride. Then remove yourself from your job and have others run things (profitably) for you. That’s when you’ve created a business.