There have been some great answers, but that is not the reason for this post.
Manton Reece – the brain behind Micro Blog 1 and Daniel Jalkut – the brain behind Red Sweater 2 have a weekly podcast called Core Intuition. This week I learned that they have been running their podcast for twelve years. A remarkable feat even of itself. Both of them are independent developers and this week the conversation turned to employment. A really nice discussion between two professionals that wrestle with following their dreams and passions, while balancing the need to put bread on the table.
1] If you want to see MicroBlog working in the real world, my web site – John.Philpin.Com is powered by MicroBlog.
2] If you want to see Red Sweater working in the real world, that’s a little harder – but Daniel has a superb product called Mars Edit that I am using to write and post this article. Seriously. If you are a Mac user that writes a blog – you should be using Mars Edit.
Sometimes people have a lot to say, but they don’t join into the dialogue – nor even make comments. I get it. I really do. Another post from an anonymous reader, this time answering something I wrote in a newsletter and again – reproduced with permission from the original writer.
Now, this is a subject that really gets to me!!
I have long argued that the biggest conflict in the world today is that between global and tribal politics. I have met anthropologists who maintain that the human-animal is basically tribal – pre-programmed by history, if not genetics, ‘to want to belong’. They argue that this is at the root of all sorts of things we see today – including racism/xenophobia at the most serious level and, more prosaically, things like fashion fads, football fans, pop group mania, etc., at the daily level. However, there is, in my eyes at least, clear evidence of emerging subsets of humans who want to throw all that away in favour of seeing the world, and our species, holistically.
One rather crude indicator of this – a frequent topic in my Operations and Supply Chain Management consultancy and teaching – is the tension between global companies (not of all which are the spawn of the devil, planet-destroying, secret cabal members, but simply businesses whose raw materials, skill-base and customers cannot be defined by random, historical, “lines on the ground”) and national Governments, most obviously over issues like differing tax regimes (and where it’s paid) and customs (import/export) processes.
Extend this to the individual with the option of working at very long distance from ‘the office’, and we see similar issues. Some 6 years ago, I did a piece of work for a Greek client, itself funded by the EU, whose direct customers were mainly from the new Eastern EU member states. HMRC was out of the traps like a top greyhound: within days I was in receipt of paperwork explaining what I needed to do to make sure that my work was taxed (and subject to National Insurance) ‘here in the UK’ (despite me NOT actually being in the UK), rather than in Greece. I presume the argument would be that we are a UK-registered company, I am a UK citizen and the education/experience that enabled me to win the contract were gained in the UK, some of it at University, at the taxpayer’s expense. That’s fair enough. However, many of the people who would say “quite right too” are EXACTLY the same people who complain when a US company, say, elects not to be taxed in the UK on earnings made here. Yet, those companies are employing UK people, who pay (quiet a lot) of tax, when you take NI, VAT, duty etc., into account as well as direct PAYE, they are renting or buying UK property, and paying local tax on it, they are consuming UK products and services that create more jobs and tax, etc. If they moved all their operations out of the UK, would we win or lose? It’s not such an easy calculation as the ‘red top fury’ suggests.
So, back to your individual, living where (s)he wants to live but working for a company ‘back home’, or, in the extreme, in the economy that places the highest monetary value on her/his skills. Would (s)he pay tax in the country of residence, the country of origin, the country employment, or several of these? Would the value of the residence (shopping local tax, etc.) be offset against the value of direct employment taxation in deciding policy?
Or is this another nail in the coffin of nationalistic division?
As a reader of this blog and newsletter or as a listener of my podcast – you know that I am a keen supporter of the broad category of ‘creative professional’ – and specifically ‘musician’. What follows are not my words, but those of a musician that wrote to me recently. Reproduced with their permission and names and venues changed/anonymized to ‘protect the vulnerable’.
I just got my first real paying gig since March 17 for Saturday December 26th. Meanwhile, due to an uptick in local COVID cases the county has announced that restaurants are to remain open, but no one allowed at the bar for the next 2 weeks.
By my calculation from today (Dec. 10), that takes us to December 25th. So, December 26th we will be back to normal?
After 9 months of ‘COVID communications with the owners of a local ‘hostelry’ – and having played there every Friday for over fourteen years, I have now experienced a full u-turn, so instead of returning to my Friday Afternoon slot – which they said “would be there for me whenever I was ready to return”, they have instead told me I will be “on call”, if they need a last minute substitute as ‘their schedule is booked full’.
I told them actually no …. no I won’t.
Beyond that, they are no longer paying what they used to – and that was never a lot to begin with!
The business (music AND the hostelry) has never been stacked with integrity, but this has to be a new low. Maybe to match the pay rates of the stand-ins?
Meanwhile on the other side of town, my Tuesday night gig (again over 14 years) has been taken over by a guy playing bass with a karaoke backing machine … in return for ‘a burger and a beer’ !!
The musician said “he did not want to steal my night” … funny – because he did. He could have said no. I guess the burger temptation was too great.
He was offered the gig by the owner because his belief was that I wouldn’t work for free. (Correct!).
I grew up in a Union town. I remember what those kinds of people were called.
I get it. I really do. I know the venues are struggling with finance like us all – musicians included – but if they can’t afford musicians – why bring them on at all?
If your business model is to offer live music – shouldn’t you pay for it?
And sure – I can hear the gallery calling down – you’ll make it up in tips.
With luck – but in reality – no.
So take a share of the profits of extra beer sold …. yeah – good luck with that! When THEY are doing well, YOU are on a fixed (low) fee – “make it up in tips”. But now they are down … well, you know how it goes.
As you know I’ve made my living as a full time musician and creative all of my life, so sad to reflect on COVID lessons;
loyalty – out of the window
promises – not worth the paper they are written on
dogs – they will eat dogs
Don’t get me wrong, the competition is just getting ramped up. The number of musicians – in this area seems to be growing by the day – and I am pretty sure that the number of hostelries are reducing. (One of the biggest just 10 miles away has announced that it is closing for GOOD. )
Not sure how this is going to play out – but I stand with my belief that a business should only offer what it can afford – and the race to the bottom of price is not a race I am going to join in.
When I order Lobster, I don’t expect to eat it and then renegotiate the price – but that seems to be the life of the live performer.
Still – one door closes, another opens – I wonder what happens when two doors close!
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the source of this piece on The Future of Work. I don’t disagree with the headline, but the article itself falls short of providing solace. In fact it falls short of being an article – but that’s another story.
An altogether disappointing piece that ends …
“I really come away from this concerned about the direction [of work], but optimistic about our ability to change it.”
David Autor, Co-chair, MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future and MIT Professor of Economics
On what grounds? Their was nothing of substance in the piece. Just opinion.