This morning over breakfast we were talking about where jobs seem to be going. (Into the wormhole, but that’s not what we mean.) Yes, we were talking about it for the usual reason – we fear the one full time “regular work” job in this household will end up going that way too.
In a way it’s almost inevitable. You pile regulations on something and make it really difficult to do it legally –ie the regulations contradict each other – people WILL stop doing it. Only…
Only people still have to do something. Well, right now, as someone who occasionally hires contractors to help in my work, (yes, I wish I could hire full time, but I don’t think it’s happening) I can tell you the regulations are crazy. You have to read through tome-like volumes to figure out what you have to pay and how much and… It adds a week of admin work onto your work.
But people still have to work. And people still need employees. So, what we see happening is a lot more temp/contracting/part time, and the work of managing the regulations etc to a great extent off-loaded to each individual as “self-employed contractor.”
As someone who has worked on this for ever, I can tell you we get the ugly stick on taxes. No, seriously. We pay self-employment tax, for the privilege of working for ourselves. Many states have other taxes on top of that. We contribute both sides of social security.
Tax policy lags reality and I think most of the self-employment beating we get comes from the fact that forty or so years ago most self-employed people were in the very well paid professions: doctors, lawyers – people who could hire secretaries and accountants to not only manage the paperwork but to find every possible loophole.
We don’t have that, so the end of the year, unless I made nothing (which has happened a couple of years) is hectic and vaguely angsty, as we gather all the paperwork, etc and make sure every I is doted and every t is crossed.
Which brings us to where all these regulations on employers is leading (into the kaki, but that’s not important right now.) I think over the next few years everyone we know is going to become a contractor and working probably for multiple people every year.
I suspect the people making these laws, if they’re thinking at all beyond the “this would be nice to make employers do”, think that the fact that this will make life more uncertain will make people rely on government more.
That’s not how it works.
Looking back the level of confidence in big government coincided the era of cradle to grave employment in large companies. People who thought their bosses were competent to manage their job security and retirement would also trust other large, faceless entities.
The level of distrust in government has been growing since the eighties and while the people in government – who, after all, have cradle to grave security at least most of the time – might think this was because of Reagan’s rhetoric (Which is part of the reason Obama wanted to be the anti-Reagan) I think they have it wrong.
The world my generation faced when we came of working age was one of temp work, of layoffs for being less than absolutely efficient, of… Yeah. What it meant was that we learned to trust only ourselves and our network. People we knew well, people we could trust. No big, faceless entities, which, of course, means not government, by extension.
I don’t think they understand that in a world of all-contractors, first, resentment against tax regulations is going to grow like mad – when you spend your holidays doing books and trying to figure out how much you made and how much you’re going to owe, you get a tadbit resentful. When you see how much you have to pay for the “freedom” of working for yourself, particularly for people forced into it by new laws, you get even more resentful.
Your reaction is not to go “Oh, daddy-government, look after me” – it’s “Those right bastards are robbing me blind coming and going.”
I don’t think the people making full time employment impossible (though I’ll admit that it was going that way anyway with technology, to where people might PREFER to be contractors – but not by force and not this quickly) realize this.
I don’t think they know they’re making their own poisoned pill.