If you’re doing something you don’t like for free, it’s drudgery; that’s just part of life. It’s not necessarily enjoyable, but we have to fold the laundry and do the dishes.
This is great when it works. But when things break down and unemployment goes up, the job market becomes less hospitable to employees seeking to escape wage slavery. People once again get stuck in jobs they hate because leaving isn’t an option. What then?
Through technological advances, we can make subsistence cheaper. For example, automation in manufacturing has made it less expensive to produce food and clothing. In the year 1900, Americans spent 57% of their income on food and clothing. By 2003, it was only 17%.
During the pandemic, many workers, like meat-packers, have little choice but to put themselves at increased risk of catching the virus while on the job. Tens of millions of Americans (and likely billions worldwide) are trapped doing jobs they hate but can’t leave.
My grandparents mended their socks; today, almost everyone buys new ones instead. Food has become incredibly cheap — it’s possible to eat healthfully for less than $10 per day.
The drop in prices of some of the necessities of life should mean we have more flexibility to job hop without starving. But even with these improvements, automation hasn’t made a dent in the cost of healthcare, education, or housing. That’s where other technological and cultural trends have a part to play.
Sandra and Beth spent the next year boasting of their mother’s murder at several parties. Sandra specifically became fond of alcohol and would drunkenly confess her crime to friends, strangers and anyone who would listen.
Furthermore, the internet is helping people turn their hobbies into dream jobs. Thanks to online platforms, it’s easier to monetize skills like graphic design, video editing, and other things people typically learn and do for fun. For instance, when a fan recently created a beautiful Instagram post using a quote from one of my books, I offered to hire her to make more for my account. Creating inspirational posts was something she did just for fun for herself, but now she can make money on her hobby in her spare time.
Every job involves doing some tasks we don’t enjoy. A job doesn’t have to be perfect all the time to be a good job. As long as there are reasons other than “my family may become homeless” that keep you coming back, it’s not wage slavery. Enjoying the camaraderie with colleagues, riding the goods and bads, or enjoying other perks, can make a job honorable and worthwhile.
We may also agree to temporarily take on jobs we dislike on our way to the next rung up the ladder. After high school, I was a busboy at a tortilla joint on nights and weekends to make extra cash. It was a miserable job that I did just for the money, but I quickly looked for something with less dishwashing and margarita lime-cutting as soon as I had something to show on my resume. But working a crappy job for a while is different from being trapped in one.
To avoid long-term wage slavery, workers who want to leave their jobs need to have options. They need to have an alternative to their current situation that doesn’t involve going hungry (or going without basic necessities). Here are a few routes I can see, based on current trends.
The move proved to be unwise when a male friend of Sandra and Beth’s reported to the authorities the sisters had confessed the crime to him at one of the aforementioned parties.
If you can do your job virtually, you have two major advantages that can help you avoid wage slavery. First, you can choose to live somewhere with a low cost of living, so you’re less dependent on a higher paycheck and can save more. Many people have already figured this out, choosing to live more cheaply in the heartland while working for companies based on the coast.
This is the classic, free-market approach to providing flexibility and freedom to workers. By growing the economy, we can create jobs and bring unemployment down. Then, when the economy is near “full employment” (categorized by unemployment around four percent), companies begin competing for workers by offering higher wages and better benefits. It is during periods of full employment that wages of lower-income earners tend to rise and quitting a crappy job becomes less risky as people have more options.
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