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Why you don't want a job  RSS feed

 
pioneer
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Erik Ven wrote:"If your job/skill would be automated out of existence what would you do instead?"   I said: "I would start to think about why I so strongly believe that I need a job..."

I was wondering what your answer would be to the same question.  Also what is your answer to the question "Why do we need a job?" 



If your job/skill would be automated out of existence what would you do instead?"  I would get another job/skill.

"Why do we need a job?"  To pay the bills, buy a fancy house, buy a fancy car, buy what the kids want, go on fancy vacations  or keep up with the Jones'.

I don't need any of that stuff except to pay utilities and taxes.
 
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Roberto, I liked a lot of what you've written in this thread.

Roberto pokachinni wrote:Some people do not want 'jobs' that are demeaning, that serve no purpose for their lives, that give them no sense of worth.  This would be sensible, some would say common sense.   Other's would not agree.  Some people accept these jobs, and some of these people feel that these jobs are all there is in the world, and some of these people have no real sense of self worth, let alone an idea that they have choices.


I'm one of those who has taken jobs that had no particular meaning for me other than relieving my household of economic insufficiency.  I wound up getting paid very well in certain jobs that I had.  And I feel thankful that simple money-reward has not, by any means, always  been the only benefit when I had a wage or salaried job.  I felt very good in some job roles, and I learned things in them.  Maybe I've had a few jobs that some other people would find "demeaning".  However, I knew why I had these: my family and my self-responsibility for my situation (including my choice to establish a land-based life) needed income.

For me, taking jobs was a maneuver to achieve an end.  And, hence, the jobs were meaningful in that way.



Actually, in reading once again through this whole very interesting thread, I believe that what Erik started the thread for was to spur people to post their thoughts about: what is a creative, clearheaded response to changing circumstances in the world of income, creation, and employment?  And to consider that very possibly being creatively self-employed may be the most sensible option.  I'd agree that can be the case under some circumstances.

 
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E Hambleton wrote:Hello,

To answer the op's question "why do we need a job?" My feeling on this is that we need jobs because we start the race of life behind the eight ball so to speak. You want an education? You'll need a student loan. Want a car to get to that job? You'll need a loan for that car. Want somewhere to live? You'll need a mortgage etc. etc. Debt is the reason you need a job IMO. Plain and simple!



Interesting thought, though I personally have never had a cent of debt. Not for college, not for a vehicle, not for my land, etc. I do not even have rent right now. I still need cash flow for clothing, food, transport, soap, lighting, writing materials, government required insurances, repairs, investing in improvements my land/house, and on and on. Since I do not have my own income stream, that means a job. Get a job or make a job.

We do not have tribal communities and large expanses of territory with resources. We do not live primitively. Thus...jobs. It is the sad cog-in-the-wheel necessity of our ass-forward society.
 
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From the many excellent post you guys have written here, I still feel that there is a general confusion between a job and an income. At a time where technology is as advanced as it is these days, when even just the access to all the information there is -- including ancient knowledge of self sufficiency - is at your fingertip, I think we don't need a job. we're just accustomed to have one. We may opt to have one, but it's a CHOICE not a NEED.

Our very basic needs (at least according to Maslow) are the physiological ones, as in air, food, water. Add to this the second level, of security (shelter), some reserves for rainy days, health and if you want to live beyond caveman style, you'll need electrical power. If you look at these carefully, there is a good chance that they consume somewhere between 60-100% of the money you are making at your "working for someone else" type job. If you look a little deeper, and I know that those who are at this forum do, permaculture has a solution to each of these. You can produce all of it yourself!

Let me go back to the job part. If you are working for someone and they are very generous with you you might get as much as 10% of the value you are producing for them, as payment for your work, and you'll try to balance the costs of your life with that money. If you produce all that were listed as needs yourself, you get to keep 100% (less some expenses) of the fruit of your work. I elaborated in this in a previous post, and I called it a theory, and Joel said that that is exactly what the problem was with it, that it was only a  a theory and in reality 19 out of 20 family who would try it would fail.

I think it would fail only if you don't do it right. If it fails, it is not because it is inherently flawed, but because working 14 hours a day is not sustainable, it's not permaculture, you are missing the "perma" from permaculture by doing it in a way that can not sustain you.

I am on a mission to prove that being jobless does not mean being moneyless, or incomeless, or workless, and being self sufficient not just capable to provide a luxurious and fulfilling life, but is the only way that can.

I am happy and grateful that so many people felt compelled to join this conversation and contribute. I want to challenge everyone who feels my "theory" is flawed in any way to discuss the flaws, because it is essential to perfecting the technical realization of this theory.
 
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Erik Ven wrote:Our very basic needs (at least according to Maslow) are the physiological ones, as in air, food, water. Add to this the second level, of security (shelter), some reserves for rainy days, health and if you want to live beyond caveman style, you'll need electrical power.



.....and the government is doing a great job with taxes and regulations they keep adding of making all of the necessities of life more expensive.

I don't think there is anything wrong with a job but with today's economy and the specter of automation putting many people out of work you better have a back up plan.
 
Erik Ven
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Matthew Lewis wrote:
..... you better have a back up plan.



Would you share yours with us?
 
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I think the difference between "work" and "a job" is mostly mindset.  I've had several jobs, and I've been self-employed several times. I can tell you, you're always working for someone else. If it's not a boss, it's a client, and after a while, you start to realize that the differences are mostly just in the paperwork.

Eric, your scenario of taking home 10% of what you produce vs 100% of what you produce is just not accurate. First, anyone who has been in upper management at a company will tell you that labor and the associated expenses (benefits, payroll taxes, etc) is almost always your biggest expense on your profit and loss statement, frequently as much as 40-50% of revenue. After you add other overhead as well as marketing, etc, you're considered to be doing pretty well if a company is making as much as a 25% profit margin.  Many are fighting for 5%. The simple fact of the matter is that if any company could make a 90% profit margin off your work, it wouldn't take long for another company to come along and offer you 15% and take 85%, and then another offering 20 for 80, etc. These notions of big bad business taking advantage of the little guy are mostly perpetuated by people who have never seen the numbers. Not that there aren't companies out there that operate like that, but the rampant proliferation of them that is often portrayed is wildly exaggerated. Most companies are run by good people who want to treat their employees right.

And the reason these companies exist, and why people work for them is that as a large group of people, we can generate a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Yes, if you work for yourself in a business that has no expenses and no taxes, you can take home 100% of your revenue. However, that revenue will not be on the same scale as what you can produce as part of a larger company. Personally, I would rather have 10% of a million dollars than I would 100% of 30 grand.  The fact of the matter is, with my skill sets and personality type, I can make more working for someone else, pay somebody to build my house for me, and still have more left in the bank than if I did all the labor and built the house myself. (There are other reasons for doing it yourself, but speaking strictly financially, that's the reality) If you've found a business model that suits your temperament and abilities and lets you make more take home pay than as an employee, that's fantastic, and you should definitely keep doing that, but it's wrong to say that anyone can do it, because most people do not have the skills or temperament to work for themselves and make as much as they could for someone else.

I think what most people object to is a mindset where you "have" to go to work every day, and you "have" to do what someone else tells you to do. This sense of what feels like enforced slavery grates on our sense of self and our natural inclinations of freedom.  But, again, this can be rectified with a simple shift in perspective. As I said in the beginning, if your goal is money vs just working to grow your own food or work your land for your own benefit - if currency is at all in play, then you are working for someone else. You are performing a service - something that they want done, not you - in exchange for money. Whether you get paid as a W2 employee or a 1099 contractor, or cash under the table, that's mostly paperwork and in the latter case, small scale tax evasion. But you're still doing a task that has no personal meaning to you in exchange for currency. When you understand that, then you understand that you can always walk away, no matter what the paperwork says. You always have that option, so long as you own the consequences of your actions and believe in your own ability to earn somewhere else. With that knowledge comes the freedom we all crave. I work for someone else in what you call a "job," but I do so by choice, because it's the most efficient way to get the most money for the least amount of effort on my part. But because my expenses are so much lower than my income (and even more so, when my land will largely be supporting my food needs) I know that at any point if things get sour or I'm just not having fun anymore, I can walk. Just having that knowledge in the back of my mind makes all the difference in the world, and frankly, gives me a much greater capacity for putting up with other people's shit, just because I know I don't "have" to.
 
Joel Bercardin
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Erik Ven wrote:I am on a mission to prove that being jobless does not mean being moneyless, or incomeless, or workless, and being self sufficient not just capable to provide a luxurious and fulfilling life, but is the only way that can.


I respect your mission, since I feel you've stimulated useful thinking.  I hope you continue to be a part of the Permies.com crowd.  I did a Google search, and you're an interesting guy involved with good stuff.

Erik Ven wrote:If you produce all that were listed as needs yourself, you get to keep 100% (less some expenses) of the fruit of your work. I elaborated in this in a previous post, and I called it a theory, and Joel said that that is exactly what the problem was with it, that it was only a  a theory and in reality 19 out of 20 family who would try it would fail.

I think it would fail only if you don't do it right. If it fails, it is not because it is inherently flawed, but because working 14 hours a day is not sustainable, it's not permaculture, you are missing the "perma" from permaculture by doing it in a way that can not sustain you.


Hmm...  What I meant in that earlier post of mine is that, for most homesteaders (as I've experienced and observed the actuality) the theory you presented becomes more meaningful and more apt once a basic infrastructure is established.  By "basic infrastructure" I mean land, water system, adequate access road(s), possibly tree clearing, adequate shelter for all seasons, basic (at least) tools, and so on.  If you're going to go for P.V. solar, wind power elec, or micro-hydro, then add that in at some point.  I agree, there are many home-based businesses that can be run on a homestead, however the number will be drastically reduced if the things I mention aren't in place!

A certain proportion of people can finance the whole project via self-employment - I applaud them, though I've met few. There's initial cost, there's the skills-learning curve, there are generally ongoing cash needs.  Few people start homesteading with a loose $250k in their pocket, rather few seem to start with even $50 or 100k.  (But many wind up with something worth that much (in "market value") over time and largely through their own efforts.)  To develop a homestead or re-develop one along permaculture lines requires attention & work - efficient use of money-earning time for many people, along the way, may happen to be "a job" for many people.

I've had jobs and I've been self-employed (but with customers or clients).  These days my partner and I are both self-employed.  When it comes to advantages and disadvantages of each mode, generalizations may not be all that useful, as everything gets down to details.  Upshot? - "it all depends".

 
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I think that while one could theoretically produce most of their food, shelter, clothing, and energy, it takes a lot more time than we think. I thinkit is a bit of a myth to think that one can do everything on their own: "I will raise chickens, cows, goats, ducks, bees, grow all my veggies, grains, etc." I think it takes a community.

Paul just released a podcast about homesteading and I think he covers some of those challenges: https://permies.com/t/62228/Homesteading-Choices

I also agree with Erik that there are alternate paths to work a factory or an office job. I think Jacob Lund Fisker outlines one path in his book early retirement extreme.
 
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Jeremy Franklin wrote:I think the difference between "work" and "a job" is mostly mindset.  I've had several jobs, and I've been self-employed several times. I can tell you, you're always working for someone else. If it's not a boss, it's a client, and after a while, you start to realize that the differences are mostly just in the paperwork.



My experience has been completely different.  I have tremendously more freedom being self employed than I had as an employee.  The most dramatic being that I only have to work 2-4 hours a day as a self-employed person whereas my workdays as an employee were at least 10 hours a day. I can also choose which hours of the day I work for money, and which days of the week.  As a self-employed person the stress of the workplace is much less, as I can work in a quiet environment.  As an employee, the workplace was often terribly noisy and stressful.  Due to health problems I would simply not have been able to carry on in my industry as an employee, but as a self-employed person I've stuck with the biz an additional 20 years although changes in the industry have reduced income opportunities in recent years.

 
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I must concur with Tyler Ludens on this as well. As a full-time farmer the amount of true work I do is very meager. Like today, I started to do some logging, got out a few cord of wood to go to a nearby papermill, but we are having an ice storm and it got too much. I only got three cord out, BUT at $70 a cord I made more in 3 hours then if I had worked at my old job as a shipbuilder building US Navy Destroyers. That was a very coveted and lucrative job too. Then I spent the rest of the day doing farm related stuff like cleaning out the barn because we are getting a new vet here on Friday, and then did Scrapie testing on a dead sheep I had. I got some great information from the Federal Vet that came and so it was a really satisfying, and financially lucrative day...and it was a very slow day.

But I also disagree about everyone having a boss. In my case, a sheep farmer, I don't. Its not that I have a faceless boss I never see, I just don't have a boss. I raise sheep and as such they eventually go to auction. There are prime carcasses that fetch the best prices, but ultimately what is paid is based on each individual sheep. A prime lamb gets top dollar, a thin ewe not so much, and of course even the thin old cull ewe gets more money then a dead sheep. There are many motivators for me to do the best I can as a sheep farmer, but having a boss is not one of them. The only questions I face are; what can I do better. It never changes and comes from the same person; myself. It is kind of why I sell lambs to 4h'ers. It lose money doing it. They always take my best, fastest growing ram lambs that would be worth way more in the fall if they went to full weight, but I get to see a customer. I get to see kids get involved in agriculture. I get to see lambs born on my farm and obtain Grand Championship status. That is awesome.

I also disagree with having a contractor build a house and paying for it via another job. This house started as a tiny house way before there was even such a term (1994) and slowly it has grown to 3000 square feet. Building it myself, starting with felling the trees, then sawing the lumber and putting it together; I always had one mantra, while I may be limited on what grows on my own land for lumber (meaning I cannot put mahogany flooring down), I could do the one thing no contractor would ever do, spend time on it. For instance my baseboards are made of cheap, white pine, BUT all my corners have themes, shamrock cutouts, heart cut outs, and cross cutouts. My doorways all have peacock feathers, and my baseboard flows in curves into door trim and arcs. It doesn't matter if it is the utility room behind the boiler, or out in the kitchen around my hand hewn beams, there is a personal touch that radiates here and it shows in life, but also in financial value. How much is this house worth? I have no idea. I own it outright so there is no appraisal to go by, but people here note those personal touches.

This extends to the barn, but where I can build a barn for $3 a square foot, barns typically appraise at $10 a square foot. So just building it myself for every dollar I spend, I am getting $3 in return on increased farm value. That is incredible! And this is where it gets goofy. Barns are one of the most undervalued aspects of a rural property. A professional contractor could build one for $40 a square foot and it still would only be worth $10 a square foot. Investment does not automatically equate to equal appraisal values. I am sure more than one person on Permies unfortunately has had their dreams dashed when the appraisal came in far below what they expected...far below what is truly accurate, but that is how the system works.

My neighbor, he has a 3200 acre farm (an no there is no decimal point in that) for sale at 2.4 million. My farm is adjacent to his, has less acres, and yet when I calculate what the timber, gravel, slate, machinery, sheep, houses, and sawmills are worth, mine is worth more. Basically we have the same amount of stuff, the point is all that stuff is not calculated separately on the open market. Its like trading in an old car, the dealership will give you $1000 for it, but selling it in parts to individual customers it is worth $3000. That is where we get Gerts. We (Gerts) are not looking to sell out, but rather at the value of everything combined. Some of us (Gerts) actually take the time to disassemble the car and sell the parts metaphorically. In this case we grow our own food instead of buy it, have healthier lifestyles that mitigate the need for expensive Dr co-pays and medication co-pays, and haul our own sheep to market instead of paying a cattle dealer because we have time too. Could I cut you a check right now for a million dollars? Nope, no way...but give me six months and I could. I won't,  am not going to sell out, but on paper...its there.

It is why my Uncle once said, "You know, when its all said and done, and the coffin is in the ground, it is the farmer who is the richest man of all." I am not sure he was talking about money, but he very well could have been.
 
Erik Ven
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Jeremy Franklin wrote:These notions of big bad business taking advantage of the little guy are mostly perpetuated by people who have never seen the numbers.


To make sure that no one thinks I am talking out of bitterness or ignorance, let me just say that I have been CEO of three companies and COO/CFO of one in two countries in two different continents, over the course of the last 30 years. I have seen all the numbers that there are and I am very familiar with the inner workings of well established businesses just as startups and companies on life support. I have walked away from it because I realized the immense damage capitalist corporate culture causes to individuals, society and the planet in general, and once I became aware of it I was not able to keep doing it and sleep well at night.
As for the real numbers, see further below.

Jeremy Franklin wrote:I think the difference between "work" and "a job" is mostly mindset.


I agree with you on that, but the distinction I was trying to make was not that. It is between a job and income. It's an entirely different topic.

Jeremy Franklin wrote:I've had several jobs, and I've been self-employed several times. I can tell you, you're always working for someone else. If it's not a boss, it's a client, and after a while, you start to realize that the differences are mostly just in the paperwork.


You are absolutely right, but again, what I was trying to address was the issue of  who’s  benefiting from your work mostly, and who has the security of having his needs met without the exploitation of others, causing social imbalance, poverty, and suffering and a collapsing ecosystem.

Jeremy Franklin wrote:Eric, your scenario of taking home 10% of what you produce vs 100% of what you produce is just not accurate. First, anyone who has been in upper management at a company will tell you that labor and the associated expenses (benefits, payroll taxes, etc) is almost always your biggest expense on your profit and loss statement, frequently as much as 40-50% of revenue. After you add other overhead as well as marketing, etc, you're considered to be doing pretty well if a company is making as much as a 25% profit margin.  Many are fighting for 5%. The simple fact of the matter is that if any company could make a 90% profit margin off your work, it wouldn't take long for another company to come along and offer you 15% and take 85%, and then another offering 20 for 80, etc


Again you are right in the short run. What happens in the long run though, is that those companies, (both the ones fighting for 5% net margin, and the ones that offer more than others) either go bankrupt, forced out of the business by those who are making the big bucks, or simply bought out. Another option is that the CEO who operates a company like that is swiftly replaced by the board, or if not, the board gets replaced by the shareholders. If you are working in a corporate environment you must know very well that the only measure of corporate health is the size of the profit. If you begin to care about the well being of your workers beyond the level that ensures that your profit is growing, you are in the crosshairs of the firing squad whether you know it or not. 

Jeremy Franklin wrote: Most companies are run by good people who want to treat their employees right.



Well, I am not sure what info or data is backing up that statement but what I see is cutting corners in safety on the Dakota oil fields which in turn is killing people for a couple of dollars more, outsourcing jobs to Asia for more profit, creating job losses in the US and empowering sweatshops and  child labor overseas, oil rigs blowing up,  automating even low level, regularly person to person jobs such as a fast food cashier, making millions of people losing healthcare with the stroke of a pen, hiking up life saving medical supplies' prices, spending millions of dollars lobbying to get our representatives doing anything and everything to pass legislation to maximize corporate profits, perpetuate war and suffering to enrich the weapons industry tycoons, and I could go on for hours even in the small business sector. In my book those who make these decisions in order to maximize profits are not good people, even if they are faithful to their wives, love their children and provide for their families, and maybe even make charitable contributions.

Jeremy Franklin wrote: And the reason these companies exist, and why people work for them is that as a large group of people, we can generate a whole greater than the sum of its parts.


That is why co-operatives exist. Companies exist solely for profit and people work for them because they are tricked into thinking that it is the only way to survive,, or because that is the only way to service their debts in which they were also tricked into.
I seriously doubt anyone would work for a corporation where the profit goes into the shareholders pocket if they had the chance to work for a co-op where the profit goes into their own pocket, or at a higher level of social conscience, to the community.

Jeremy Franklin wrote: Yes, if you work for yourself in a business that has no expenses and no taxes, you can take home 100% of your revenue. However, that revenue will not be on the same scale as what you can produce as part of a larger company.


It is definitely true for those in upper mid management, and executive positions.
For most people however, this is less and less true as the corporate culture is built on infinite growth of production and profit. To back this up here are some numbers:
The GDP in the US is $16.77 trillion, and the total workforce is 159,640,000 people as of Dec 2016. The median pay nationally is $51,939, which totals a 8.3 trillion pay. Out of the 159.6 million workforce, 22 million are government employees with a total pay of 1.85 trillion and 2.5 million executive positions with a median pay of $121,435, which totals in  which adds up to about 260 billion.  So the $16.77 trillion is produced by 135 million people which comes to $124,000 per worker. These 135 million people are paid $6.1 trillion, which comes to $45,427.00 per person of which an average 30% is paid in different forms of income and work related taxes, which leaves them with $31,799 which comes to $ 15.29 an hour provided that you are working 40 hours all 52 weeks of the year ( no holidays or vacations), which is 20% less than what a single supporter of a 1 child family would have to make as a living wage in Jefferson County, Mississippi. (Mississippi is the cheapest place to live in the US)
Now this is 25.6% of the value produced by the individual, and is better than my estimate was, but this also includes higher paying, non-executive, managerial jobs, ( I just didn't want to go into that detailed of a research to take those out, right now) and 50% of the people in this bracket makes less than that. So I think, my 10% estimate is pretty close to the reality of Average Joe.
Sources:
http://www.dlt.ri.gov/lmi/laus/us/usadj.htm
http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/21955000-12329000-government-employees-outnumber-manufacturing
http://freebeacon.com/issues/study-government-workers-make-78-percent-more-than-private-sector/
https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/executive-salary-SRCH_K,9.htm
http://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/the-least-expensive-states-to-live-in-the-us.html/?a=viewall
http://livingwage.mit.edu/states/28/locations


Jeremy Franklin wrote: Personally, I would rather have 10% of a million dollars than I would 100% of 30 grand.  The fact of the matter is, with my skill sets and personality type, I can make more working for someone else, pay somebody to build my house for me, and still have more left in the bank than if I did all the labor and built the house myself. (There are other reasons for doing it yourself, but speaking strictly financially, that's the reality)


I think you are right. Whether you want a job or not depends on many factors  One of them is whether your goal is making as much money as you possibly can, or just to produce everything that you need to live well. And living well also has a different meaning for different people . However if we have a sense of social and environmental responsibility, and we take the pillars of Permaculture seriously,  it is hard to participate in the corporate rape of the planet and systematic exploitation of the poor.
It's just simple math that every dollar that one has beyond their needs, makes someone else fall a dollar short of meeting their needs.

Jeremy Franklin wrote:I think what most people object to is a mindset where you "have" to go to work every day, and you "have" to do what someone else tells you to do. This sense of what feels like enforced slavery grates on our sense of self and our natural inclinations of freedom.  But, again, this can be rectified with a simple shift in perspective.


Agreed again. It is easy trick our minds into thinking that we are free, especially when the alternative is understanding that we are disposable slaves in the cog work of the system we call the “free world” ( Cognitive Dissonance is one the mind’s most powerful bondage) The problem is that the moment one makes that shift, is the moment when one becomes a willing slave to those who don’t care about other human beings, let alone other non-human living beings.

Jeremy Franklin wrote:As I said in the beginning, if your goal is money vs just working to grow your own food or work your land for your own benefit - if currency is at all in play, then you are working for someone else. You are performing a service - something that they want done, not you - in exchange for money. Whether you get paid as a W2 employee or a 1099 contractor, or cash under the table, that's mostly paperwork and in the latter case, small scale tax evasion. But you're still doing a task that has no personal meaning to you in exchange for currency. When you understand that, then you understand that you can always walk away, no matter what the paperwork says. You always have that option, so long as you own the consequences of your actions and believe in your own ability to earn somewhere else. With that knowledge comes the freedom we all crave.


Someone who had subscribed to the current social programming and up to his ears in student loan, car loan and mortgage debt, cannot afford to just walk away anytime. Especially if their skill is easily automated. They need careful preparations, sometimes even for years, if they don’t want that step to cause a catastrophic collapse of their family economy. Right now if you are a high ranking executive, you may feel that your job is secure, but let me tell you that my best friend is a VP at G&S and she is currently tasked with automating herself out of her job.

Jeremy Franklin wrote: I work for someone else in what you call a "job," but I do so by choice, because it's the most efficient way to get the most money for the least amount of effort on my part. But because my expenses are so much lower than my income (and even more so, when my land will largely be supporting my food needs) I know that at any point if things get sour or I'm just not having fun anymore, I can walk. Just having that knowledge in the back of my mind makes all the difference in the world, and frankly, gives me a much greater capacity for putting up with other people's shit, just because I know I don't "have" to.


From what you wrote it sounds like you are in a very privileged position at least jobwise. I was there, and now I know that I had a very difficult time to see from there  the position in which my employees were, let alone understand their struggles. Now I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to break out of it. 
 
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Been reading through this thread and it's an interesting topic. I would add to this discussion that outside of the corporate/business world a job can be a bit different. I currently work for a non-profit Land Trust. As the Community Conservation Manager my job is to manage our restoration work across two counties and manage our environmental education programs. We use more and more remote sensing technologies but so far there is no risk of my work being automated - the remote sensing tech just provides me more information to do better restoration designs but so far it can't produce the designs.

In a permaculture sense I see my job as restoring or establishing zone 5 (sometimes zone 4) areas. For example one of my current projects has been to establish a riparian buffer at the largest dairy in one of the counties I work to protect a salmon bearing stream. Another site is focusing on restoring a golf course to a natural state - this has involved removing a dike, establishing new tidal channels, adding side channels and wetland basins along a stream and so far planting over 30,000 trees/shrubs. Next step is to establish a public access trail system for general use and specifically use by the local schools - and plant more plants. I love this work and I can't imagine doing anything different.

I know I'm lucky/privileged to have a job like this but I know a fair number of people doing similar work for a range of non-profits and that is without or society putting much focus on this type of work. My point in bringing this up is that working for a non-profit or perhaps a cooperative (I don't have experience working for a cooperative so I can't speak on that) can be different. There are Land Trusts doing similar work in almost every community across the United States - there are also many other non-profits doing similar work outside of the Land Trust network. The extra value I create by doing my job does not go to someone's profit but instead goes to the natural environment in plants planted, culverts removed, dikes removed, etc. As a non-profit we rely on donations, membership dues, foundations and government grants. We can have jobs that focus on using the produced surplus to enhance our communities and the world as a whole instead of enhancing someone's pocketbook.

I think if we are going to really address the issues we face today then we will need to create jobs that focus on making a meaningful difference. I don't mind that my income is lower than what I could make as a private consultant. I know that the extra value that I create by doing my job is going to make my community a better place and I make enough to own some land and live a good life. Personally, I think we should focus on making this the way all of our jobs work. I remember reading a story about a hospital that decided to give their janitors the freedom to make decisions that the janitors thought would help the patients - the result was the janitors all ranked their job satisfaction substantially higher than before because in their words they were actually making the lives of the patients better and that made their job worthwhile. So I really do believe that every job could be structured in this way and I also believe that it is needed if we are going to address the issues we face as a global community and build a better society.
 
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Erik Ven wrote:

Jeremy Franklin wrote: I work for someone else in what you call a "job," but I do so by choice, because it's the most efficient way to get the most money for the least amount of effort on my part. But because my expenses are so much lower than my income (and even more so, when my land will largely be supporting my food needs) I know that at any point if things get sour or I'm just not having fun anymore, I can walk. Just having that knowledge in the back of my mind makes all the difference in the world, and frankly, gives me a much greater capacity for putting up with other people's shit, just because I know I don't "have" to.


From what you wrote it sounds like you are in a very privileged position at least jobwise. I was there, and now I know that I had a very difficult time to see from there  the position in which my employees were, let alone understand their struggles. Now I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to break out of it. 



I have to say that I agree with Jeremy's post.  And especially this and the entire part of his point that deals with mentality.  [My own family is] not in a privileged position; and we never have been.  But we have always kept this mentality that we don't "have" to.  Even dancing along the poverty line as a single-income family of 5, refusing government assistance, it was all voluntary.  Hard as heck, and we have very helpful family, which many people don't, I know--but it was voluntary.  We could have a double income, he could take any number of jobs, he could work on his own, but he works for a company as a contractor (now).  It's mutually beneficial, but if he had to or wanted to do it on his own, he could.  But he chooses not to.  I read Jeremy's main point as being that the most important thing is voluntarily choosing what goals are worth what sacrifices to oneself and one's family--whatever that looks like for them.  For us it's been an ironic journey, because when producing our own food would have been most helpful, was the same time we didn't have the money (or skills, knowledge, or time) to start.  Ideally, we would have presciently premeditated the need and provided for it, but we can't predict the future.  So now that money for food is not a pressing issue, now I have money to buy seeds, a broadfork, and building materials.  I still lack time, skills, and knowledge, but hey, it's a start.    But going back to Jeremy's point: we do and have done what we've done because it was worth it to us over the alternatives.  We can at least respect that in others and no assumed they're asleep or tricked.  If they want to change their path, they will.  Be there to offer encouragement and help supply the resources they might lack, that's the best thing anyone can do for anyone else.
 
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Generally, we agree that we need some sort of money to get buy.  This usually happens in the forum of an income.

Most of us need an income.  Many people, I think, get this income by working at a job.  By job, I think we mean wage work.

Alternative sources of income: Self-employment, residual income, cottage industry, agile work, and I'm sure there are others.  Most of these overlap at least a little bit.

When a job is the primary source of income, we have a lot of fear about losing it.  It makes sense, as society as we know it, is focused on wage work.  If we lose our job, we lose our income, so we need to work 40 to 60 hours a week in hopes of saving for our retirement.  In the past, there used to be such certainty about work.  You get a job, you work that same job until you're 60, you get a gold watch, you go golfing.  Now, job security is less certain.  This makes losing a job even more fearful.

The way I got out of this mess, was to spend less money.  I think I have a very high quality of life, even if I don't have a smartphone, TV, or other 'necessities' of life.  Yet, I spend 1/4 of the poverty line (the minimum monthly income required to meet the most basic needs - not including housing) every month.  When I worked the 60 hour week, I spent a lot of money on food, clothes, transport, and other things.  For example, my weekly food bill was up to $200 (groceries are more expensive here than in the US) after eating out, groceries, &c.  Yesterday, I made my weekly meals, for $5.  Total food expense this week, probably $20.  A pot of beans, a pot of delicious soup, and falafels for breakfast.  At $200 a week, that's 20 hours at minimum wage one has to work to pay the food bill.  This week, I need to work 2 hours at minimum wage, plus 2 hours in the kitchen.  Since I get more than that, I won't have to work much at all.


Because I don't spend much, I don't need to work much.  I have a part time casual job which I love.  If I didn't love it, I wouldn't work it. 

I have a cottage industry which I enjoy-ish.  I enjoy making things, but I dislike the selling part, so I usually sell on commission.  Because of this, I make less per hour at being self-employed than I do in wage work. 

I have a farm where I grow things.  I sell these when I have extra, but I'm more interested in research and developing varieties and methods that work well locally without excessive inputs like irrigation.  Again, I hate selling, so I tend to get a lower price for my produce than others do. 

The point is, I don't have to have a job.  But I love it.  It's possible to have a fun job and live well working only a few hours every few weeks. 


 
Joel Bercardin
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I was on someone’s Pinterest board this morning and came across a link to a good little article by Joel Salatin.  I immediately thought of this great thread that Erik Ven started, and wanted to put the URL for Salatin’s article on here:
http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/avoid-farm-debt-zm0z15aszcom?pageid=2#PageContent2

Granted, Mr. Salatin and his family worked up to farming at a much larger scale than many here at Permies are doing, or even want to be doing.  But he is completely practical in matters of costs, work, and jobs.  The Salatins may not be illustrating Permaculture, as such.  But I believe their experience and attitude are relevant to very many people who want to homestead or farm.
 
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Why you don't want a job?
I wanna spent my time with my kids as they grow. I spent a lot of time at work/job 9-10 hours that spending the remaining time with them in a day seems very short and they're growing fast. - widow with 2 kids, bread winner.

I just started permies and i loved it. Supposed to be my 2nd year but 1st year was tough and a lot of mistakes, -thou there were successes too but i'd like it to earn. Partly the unsuccess is on some conflict arising from not owning the land my self. Yes, needs money. On everything you do on it. Slowly, i'll get there... I'm seeing some success with this year's planting and already harvested some. There isn't much guide on the web since most guides are on temperate regions of the world while i live in a tropical country, -just rainy and summer seasons and heat goes up to 41C.

its a promising arena, im planting on common grounds, not my yard but its my family's yard where conflict of interest is an issue and when family member is competing with you. so, its really best to have your own and im working on getting to work on my aunt's land since i dont have money to buy my own right now. when i do, i'd buy, for now, im learning the basics the hard way and keep the tiny space worthwhile until i can find a place... yup, thinking of renting and i've eyed some place but still, money is really an issue. I dont earn much here and everything seems to be very expensive including rent.

well, my plants are inspiring me despite. the cherry tree i bought from IRELAND flowered when i was told it wouldn't on the region i lived in. and all seeds sprouting despite heat even the ones i bought not for tropical regions were sprouting. this is a good start for me and i just cannot stop thinking more,  and it just excites me...
 
Matthew Lewis
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Erik Ven wrote:

Matthew Lewis wrote:
..... you better have a back up plan.



Would you share yours with us?



Sorry I missed this reply earlier.

We are trying to get our expenses down as low as possible by working towards building a homestead and growing  most of our own food. We are trying to do this with very little debt and hopefully will have it paid off within 10 years. We are also working on building up home based businesses. That can replace at least part of our income.

The the long term vision is no mortgage, no utility bills and cutting our food bill by 75%

With this sort of lifestyle a job loss isn't a big deal.
 
Joel Bercardin
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I’m bumping this thread because I think it provides nourishing food for thought for people who want to homestead and dream of supporting themselves (including kids) by doing so.  Eric Ven set off a great discussion, and many points of view, backed by experience, got expressed.  This is clearly one of the most crucial areas of consideration.

Possibly by bringing the thread up top again we’ll air some fresh ideas.
 
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r ranson wrote:

There is enough demand that I could work every hour of the day, if I wanted. 
The thing is, I like my wage work best.  Working for someone else gives me a huge amount of freedom.  I don't have to do tasks I don't enjoy and can walk away from it at any time.  Because I enjoy the work, I do it well which keeps the boss coming back to me when there's work to do.  Self-employed activities require me to do all sorts of things and pile me up with obligations that I cannot walk away from.  If I take money for a contract, I have to finish it in a timely manner, no matter what else comes up in my life.  If I get pneumonia, like I did last year, I could call in sick to work and other people can do the job.  But I couldn't forgo my self-employed obligations. 



Nice to see a well thought out dissenting voice. I have spent at least fifteen years contemplating self-employment, but the thing is, that would require having a product or service to sell. So my options would be, either come up with a way to sell my education in biology as a freelancer, or come up with the money and time to learn a whole suite of new skills. Neither is something that can be done at the snap of a finger. I always found it ridiculous when one of those employment counselors suggests "take a survival job while searching for the job you want." As if a survival job was something one could just "take" like picking an apple. No -- it takes as much effort to get a "survival job" as any other job; maybe more, if your qualifications don't match. The corner convenience store is going to hire someone with retail experience over someone with a master's degree in biology. So why waste my time looking for a "survival job" I will not get, when I could spend it looking for one I am qualified to do?

Whenever I see people who look like they have so much more than I do, I remind myself that I don't know how much of their stuff is paid for, and how much is current debt. If your debt liability exceeds your assets, doesn't that make your net worth a negative number, no matter how much stuff is in your house and garage?

 
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well, I find that the original premise tends to fall in on itself. If we steadily lose jobs to machines then sooner or later nobody will have money to buy the goods the robots are producing. If society doesn't provide an income transfer of some sort (social security) the economy collapses. We are in an analogous situation in my country where after 20 years of diligently exporting jobs to China we now have plenty of cheap Chinese goods that nobody can afford to buy. And 40 % unemployment. That is indeed a national crisis, we don't have social security for people 18-60 and so we have lots of social unrest which is only to be expected. All I'm saying is a system like that is not sustainable, something has got to give. At times like this I feel good having a garden to retreat to, at least I know me and mine are eating.

That thing about opportunity cost never worked for me even at college when I was studying economics. I had a real job the first five years I owned this place, to pay for necessary investments. I had to employ somebody to work here whom I paid about 10 % of my income. I hated it. Used to sit in quarterly board meetings designing vegetable rotations and be jealous of the person I was paying to have all the fun while I was stuck hearing the Chief Financial Officer's report. He still works here but we get along so much better now that I can have fun too.

After my full time gig ended I started a small home business making handmade soap and body products. My friends joke I'm like a crack dealer but it is true that I have a loyal clientele that don't want to use anything else. Took a minute to get there but   once people get off the petrochemical wheel and get used to natural soap they never want to go back. I noticed this earlier this year when I had to take a month off work for family reasons. People were texting at all hours of the night wanting to know where their soap was :) So this notion that the robots can do it better is not true always.  Maybe they are needed for solar PV microprocessors but there are many many things we humans will always do better. Not least permaculture.

But most of all what I love is independence. Every cabbage I pick from this land is one less I am putting into the system. The same system that crushes people and leaves them without work or pride. It gives me endless pleasure to know that my cabbage is ethical. Don't get me wrong. I judge nobody who does what they have to do. But the more my land is beginning to produce the more disinclined I am to negotiate my principles. I am starting to have an evening routine which begins with collecting rainwater, then kindling, and then figuring out what I am going to need for supper. Eventually I realized what that evening hour means. It means just a little bit of shoving the system out of my way so I can live while promoting the wellbeing of others.  I work my way there one vegetable  bed at a time.
 
Joel Bercardin
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I was glad that Eric Ven kicked-off this dialogue.  But after I read his OP and the early posts, and started posting in this thread, I thought he should have titled it "Why I don't want a job" (IOW, with reference to himself).

Natasha Abrahams wrote: I had a real job the first five years I owned this place, to pay for necessary investments. I had to employ somebody to work here whom I paid about 10 % of my income. I hated it. Used to sit in quarterly board meetings designing vegetable rotations and be jealous of the person I was paying to have all the fun while I was stuck hearing the Chief Financial Officer's report. He still works here but we get along so much better now that I can have fun too.

After my full time gig ended I started a small home business making handmade soap and body products. ...

But most of all what I love is independence. Every cabbage I pick from this land is one less I am putting into the system. The same system that crushes people and leaves them without work or pride. It gives me endless pleasure to know that my cabbage is ethical.


What you've said in these portions of your post that I'm quoting is very similar to what I posted when telling my own story and relating my point of view.  Sure, work at a job until you can get properly set up.  Then, if you can and want to, be self-employed while living on your homestead.  In my opinion, too few people start out wealthy enough to just invest in land, equipment, and improvements and then immediately be self-supporting (for themselves & family) on their land.
 
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Joel Bercardin wrote:In my opinion, too few people start out wealthy enough to just invest in land, equipment, and improvements and then immediately be self-supporting (for themselves & family) on their land.




I think that is the point of this whole thread; instead of thinking in terms of buying a way into farming, people should be thinking of ways of getting into farming WITHOUT spending money. The problem I find is, people do not want to wait 10 years to build up to a working farm, they want to have a full working farm NOW! That takes money.

I read a story of a 80 year old cowboy that did a school in Texas and said that the man started out working as a Stockman at a stockyard and bartered for his first cow. By bartering and trading, within a few years he was building his herd and at the time of the writing, him an his wife had thousands of livestock, thousands of acres, and ran a stockman school for cowboys to learn the trade. His conclusion was the same as mine; people today do not want to start small, and lenders are more then happy to flood them with money knowing their assets are protected by having enough equaity. They could care less if the farmer makes it or not, just that they get their money back.

Myself, I started with only 4 sheep and 3 acres of land. People laughed at me then, but 10 years later I have hundreds of acres and teach classes on sheep farming and taking farms from hobby farm, to full time status. My approach is simple; think outside the box because a farmer today will never make it trying to buy their way into farming. In fact statistics prove it...on avarege a beginning farm lasting just 3 years.

It is entirely possible for a person to live in a leased apartment, have leased equipment, leased farmland, or leased livestock, and be considered a full-time farmer LEGALLY by the USDA/IRS. Of course it takes creative thinking and bartering to do that.








 
raven ranson
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When we moved to the farm, my grandfather made his garden in the place with the best soil and then bought several truckloads of expensive soil and amendments to add to it.

I was left with some of the worst soil and am too miserly to buy soil.  We make compost every day, the animals make poop.  Why buy soil when sources of soil are all around us for free?

The first year, my grandfather had a bumper crop and crowed about how great a gardener he was. The third year, my grandfathers garden was sad.  He had to water his garden at least twice a day and the crops were small and few.

The first year, I didn't get a harvest.  The third year, my harvest was medium-good.  But, I only watered once a week and usually by hand.  I saved my own seeds from what thrived.  I built up the soil with compost and organic matter I could find around the farm.  By year 6, I am able to get strong harvests so long as I remember to water once a week.  Vibrant tasting plants, unlike anything my grandfather ever grew.  My topsoil has gone from 1/4 inch to more than 2 feet deep in places. 

It took effort, it took time. 

I would rather spend my time investing in long-term soil growth than spend my time at a job gathering money so I can spend it on topsoil that won't last.

But then again, there are things that I could make but would rather buy.  Cabbages come to mind.  Much nicer cabbages in the shops than I can grow.  So I work as well as self-employ. 
 
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Why don't I want a job? Because I make too much money NOT working!

Here is a case in point, currently my wife and I are working on one of our other houses, and getting it fixed up. At one time everyone had written it off as a lost cause, including us!! It was a house that came with our farm when we bought it, but vacant for 10 years when my Grandmother died. In that state it was worth about $30,000.

Because I have time, I use our sawmill, use our trees, and while the conversion is slow, by using my time wisely; I am using my sweat-equity to really improve this house. In about a year this house will be transformed, and be worth $130,000 instead of $30,000. That is a net worth increase of $100,000.

Now what kind of job could I get where I could make $100,000 in a year? I was close to that when I worked at the shipyard as a welder granted, but there was a lot of costs to make that much money too, like transportation, Union Dues, etc. Here, by converting as many natural resourses as I can into building products, which have a low cost in cash expenses, I can greatly increase my networth.

I do that by using my trees to make wooden shingles, clapboards, wainscoating for the house, beams, framing, etc. When doing trim work I spend time in the details, doing the things few contractors would do so that the house really stands out.  Every day I have done this, even when I worked, constantly building equity in my house on my days off. Financially it has been rewarding. Not because I have cash, but because I have collateral should I ever need something. A lot of people think that the ability to buy or borrow is based on their credit score, and it is to some degree, about 30%, but collateral is even more important, especially in farming.

 
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I'm really interested in the psychological aspect of this, that Dr. Redhawk wrote about.
My concern is with the mindset... particularly the "protestant work ethic" and how the conditioning we received in school and other places growing up makes us FEEL about "having a job" or "not having a job." The idea of being, as a human, obsolete and useless to society or to the status quo is what causes us discomfort and anxiety when threatened with the idea of not being employable. Our rewards system has been conditioned to reward us for "having a job" that may do us more harm than good, and to punish us for "not having a job" or for having a job that doesn't make use of our qualifications.
Obviously many people have success using the "jobs" available to them when they need to, so we shouldn't punish ourselves for taking advantage of the jobs as a resource. Likewise we shouldn't punish ourselves for electing not to use the jobs. It is really hard to break the mental conditioning but I'm glad to see many of us have been able to!
So the real question is... if robots supplant my usefulness to the system, do I maintain my human value? Of course I do! But it sure doesn't feel that way. Emotions are tricky. I suppose as I integrate more permaculture activities into my daily life and am nourished by interaction with the land, my emotions will gradually shift away from their established habit. One thing is clear, many employers I have worked for (which rely on seasonal employment and treat their employees as disposable) actively manipulate these emotions to pressure their seasonal employees to overwork themselves. I just gotta remember that at the end of the season everybody really does get laid off, and they don't fire anybody during the season for not working hard enough, because you don't throw away your spork while you're still eating your mashed potatoes even if it's a wonky spork.
 
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