It is now approaching 8 years that the country suffered the 2007 financial crisis and has since been stuck in the slow-growth doldrums of Keynesian mediocracy and "new normalcy." Despite trillions in stimulus spending and QE monies, the (largely) left's attempts to spur economic growth have failed. During Obama's administration GDP has grown around a paltry 1.8% per year, unemployment (if you believe the official figures) is just now below a recessionary 6%, and labor force participation has dropped to its worst measure since the last worst recession (The Volcker Recession).
However, while the macro-economic picture is bad, it doesn't tell half the story for younger people. And that story is a horrible one.
Unemployment for youth is double that of the national average. Labor force participation hasn't be this low since the FIRST oil embargo in the 70's. And (depending on which measures you want to use) UNDERemployment for the "most educated" generation in the history of America is anywhere between 30-50%. And this says nothing about the trillion+ dollar student loan albatross hanging around their necks.
The irony of course is that this generation did it to themselves. They voted for Obama. They "hated" on corporations. They launched the OWS protests. And they Venn diagram heavily with the parasites of society who euphemistically call themselves "SJW's." There is no generation that hates capitalism, economic growth, economic progress, and success more than today's young. However while they did pull the trigger and it is is "technically" their own fault, it wasn't as if they weren't completely brainwashed into doing so. The young did not grow up in a vacuum, uninfluenced by parents, teachers, media, politicians, and TV. They are a byproduct of the previous generations. And so while they did indeed vote against their own economic interests twice (and with Bernie Sanders, maybe a third, even fourth time) you can't blame them too much given the leftist indoctrination and complete lack of economic and financial fundamentals Gen X and the Baby Boomers failed to teach them.
However, the Millennials are no longer the doey eyed 18 year olds they were when they first voted for Obama in 2008. Nor are they the infatuated 22 year old female masters student with the VT's for Obama when they voted for him again in 2012. They are now a generation completely lost because all the promises and guarantees the previous generations told them are not coming true. And for the first time in their lives they are facing the full costs and consequences of being led to make the stupid decisions they did in the past. It is here they are finding out they've been living a lie and the real world is completely different than what they were told.
It is here there is a fork in the road and an important one for them. For they have the choice to start listening to the Knowledgesphere-harsh truths, facts and reality evil, blunt jerks like me spew on a daily basis, or simply double down on their indoctrinated religion of leftism, stick their heads in the sand, and continue to live the lies they were told to believe, consequently ruining their one, finite life on this planet forever.
And I think if you're here, you're thankfully in the former.
If that's the case then there is an important lesson you need to learn. For it's about your only shot at happiness, true financial success, and a life that was infinitely better than the one you've lived thus far. However, it requires that we look back and admit that what you were told was wrong. And not only was it wrong, but the people that told you it had no clue what they were talking about. We need to realize these people are living lives just as sucky as yours AND ALSO admit taking "conventional wisdom" that applied in the past does not apply into the future. We need to be forward looking, proactive and realistic, and develop strategies and make decisions based on these real world observations, all to salvage what remains of our lives.
In short, you must self employ or die.
On my latest western adventure I had lunch with a friend of mine on a main street in a small Minnesota town. He was telling me the story about how his dad worked for one of the largest airlines in America, until it went bankrupt. It emerged out of bankruptcy, but the pension he had worked so hard for was wiped out. The poor man is now underwater on his mortgage and relies on my buddy to support him.
On a less personal note, one of my most hated cities, Detroit, has gone through a similar such scenario. Not necessarily the actual city of Detroit, but its delusional and spoiled brat government workers who were promised insane pensions on the financial back of a dying leftist town. No matter what promises were uttered by the latest criminal-cum-mayor, in the end math and reality reigned supreme and thousands of former city employees are facing a fraction of what they were promised for pensions.
I could go on, but the points are clear.
1. The traditional life cycle of employment previous generations lived by no longer works and is no longer in effect. You will NOT find that life-long job at the local factory where you put in your 30 years and get your golden watch and pension. You are lucky to be working as a barrista and often for many young people today Uber and Lyft are the best employment options you have.
2. The previous generations have absolutely no freaking clue what they're talking about. Not only did they lead two full generations towards the path of life long poverty, debt, and underemployment, they themselves have so piss-poorly managed this nation you now have a country with 110% debt to GDP, a 7 year old recession, a housing bubble, a Dotcom bubble, a retirement bubble, and oh yeah, they're still blindsided by pensions not being funded AND no more than 10% of them have adequately saved for their own retirement.
3. No form of employment is safe. It's one thing if a traditionally leveraged and risky industry like airlines file for bankruptcy. But when government pensions can't even be honored it shows you there is NO employer who can be relied upon to pay for your retirement, let alone keep you employed. You are just one CEO's-trophy-wive's-demand-for-a-horse-farm away from getting laid off. One moronic bankster-inflated asset bubble bursting away from losing your job. And just one rating-agency's-downgrade-of-your-municipal-employer's-bonds away from losing your pension.
In short no place in America today is a consistent and reliable source of employment.
But dire as America's labor market is today for young people, this only speaks to the reliability of employment. It says NOTHING about the working environment that results when you have such an oversupply of desperate labor juxtaposed against weak demand for it. Specifically, an intolerable and hostile work environment where employers are becoming increasingly petty, controlling, manipulative, and sadistic.
Forget requiring an MBA and 5 years experience for an entry level job. Forget 5 stages of interviews, 2 with HR ditzes, and 3 with increasingly incompetent levels of management.
What if you actually get hired?
So untenable and fragile is your employment today it isn't enough that you merely perform well at your job. You need to navigate the insane and illogical labyrinth of office politics and managerial pscyhology. You need to walk on eggshells. You need to anticipate and forecast the inconsistent, psychotic, and always changing demands of all "stakeholders" You need to "kiss the ring" of your employer and dance like a good little monkey.
Alas, merely showing up on time and giving 110% isn't enough.
You need "diversity training."
You need to donate to the United Way.
You need to commute to the new office 90 minutes away.
You need to attend company functions on the weekend.
You need "sexual harassment training."
You need to "walk to raise awareness for ADHDHHDDHDDDD"
You need to "give us your facebook password."
You need to "smile more at work."
You need your "flair."
You need to "come in on the weekend."
And above all else, you need to avoid right leaning politics. Either through donations, public forums, or your right to freedom of association. Otherwise you will be doxxed, you will be fired, or magically a "sexual harassment case" will be made against you. And your career, no matter how far along you are to retirement, will be ruined.
It is these two traits - the mathematical/economic impossibility of a traditional career, combined with the literally psychotic and totalitarian environment employers have become - that makes the only acceptable form of employment in your life self employment. You must self-employ, or you will mentally die.
Of course a lot of people don't think self-employment is for them. They're not the "entrepreneurial type." They like the "comfort" of working for somebody else. And to that I say "tough." Because you are operating under the premise that you have a choice. Yes, technically you do have a choice, but so bad has the employment prospects and employment environment become, that it practically forces you into self-employment. However, if you consider the pros and cons of self-employment against traditional employment, it will hopefully at least make a convincing argument for self-employment and at least provide you the incentive to "get into the entrepreneurial mindset."
First, you eliminate the issue of reliable employment. You are your own boss and thus you have your own best interests at heart. You will be the best boss you ever had and will treat yourself better than any boss you will ever have. You will not outsource your job to India. You won't sue yourself for sexual harassment. You won't "choose to go another direction" when times get tough.
Second, mental health. In being your own employer you won't have to endure the petty Baby Boomer boss antics of "predict my mind or else we'll fire you." Or "I told you this, but I really wanted you to do that." Or "I'm a 20 something brainwashed girl and am offended by everything and will file harassment complaints all the time." Or (my all time favorite game) "I Know We Said Your Job Would Be X, But Now that You Signed a Year Lease and MOved Here, It's Going to Be Y."
In short, all the mental BS, lies, and gimmickry is gone.
Third, efficiency. Closely related to mental health is the fact that most employees want to do their best. However, because more value is placed on conformance and ass-kissing than ass-kicking, being an efficient and productive employee gets you nowhere. When you're the boss it is all efficiency all the time. No games, no politics, no chicanery. Every decision you get to make is 100% efficient AND 100% IMMEDIATE. There is no "waiting for approval" or "waiting for the green light" from your boss. The mental health alone that comes with the feeling of "getting stuff done" is amazing and rewarding.
Fourth, no commute.
I know the aged, Baby Boomer powers that be who are desperately clinging onto the reigns of power believe this is a myth, but you don't have to commute. Matter of fact, most jobs can be done from home (unless of course you pursue a trade type form of self employment). This not only frees up time but drastically improves your mental health, your physical health, AND dramatically improves your family life. More time with the kids, more time with the wife, more time on the boat, more time playing catch. And its amazing how if you get rid of a commute you get rid of your chances for divorce.
And finally, five, better finances.
In being self employed you can write off a whole host of things you normally can't as a wage slave. Travel, computers, office space, insurance, etc., it usually compensates for the fact you have to pay your full social security tax. However, the tax write offs are not the key financial benefit of self employment. It is the long term asset you are building up that cannot be confiscated nor stolen from you (unless the communists take over).
The government can rescind the tax benefits,, even confiscate your 401k or IRA.
The government can inflate away or just refuse to pay your social security.
And your employer can (as we noted before) just go bankrupt and not pay you your pension.
However, your company, your network of clients, your expertise and everything else that goes into generating income from it cannot. In building your own company you create a system that is mobile, non-confiscatable, and unable to be rescinded like a pension or social security. That system can continue to generate income no matter what happens to social security, and (if done right) can be sold for more money than what 95% of Americans have in their "retirement accounts." If you're self employed, you won't have to sit there for 30 years post retirement worrying about whether "Montgomery Wards" is "going to make it" for the next 30 years. You just need to know that "Bob's Roofing" is running well under your son, "Bob Jr." as he pays you your 30% cut of profits and you retire down south on a beach.
But for all the pros (nay, compunction) of self-employment, there will be one final predictable argument against self-employment. And that is
"We all can't be self employed."
And you're right. We all can't.
Thankfully, despite the pure awesomeness of me and this blog, we are still a small minority when it comes to the general American population and interwebz. Because of the statistics of the bell distribution curve the average reader here is smarter than 93% of the population who are too busy being lemmings, watching daytime TV, Ellen, The View, Sports Center, Meet the Press, CNBC, The Kardashians, and "24/7 Bruce Jenner Saga Drama Show." They lack the intelligence, ingenuity, incentive, drive, rigor, and determination to become successful entrepreneurs and (thankfully) will serve as those tortured wage slaves at Initech or McDonald's so we don't have to,. And better yet, they will indebt themselves to that miserable existence TO BUY OUR STUFF.
Alas, we are compelled to become self-employed. Not just because economics and reality mandates us. Not just because it's the most basic self-respecting thing you can do for yourself. But because if not us, then who?