Employee or contractor? The debate swells in families, businesses, and on the Hill.
After I got out of university, I couldn't get a job. However, I started a business with
my wife, and it's proved very successful. It's been sixteen years since I had a job; I couldn't
The business was my mother-in-law's idea, though she wasn't really hoping I'd end up doing it
full-time forever. She saw it as a nice side-line to supplement a "real" income - from a "real job."
My father was a military man: he collected a salary for twenty eight years, then a monthly pension ever
since. My father-in-law was an industrial man, very dedicated to his job. He believed you needed a
job to be successful - like he was. Now he gets a good pension, too.
Both my father and father-in-law had fathers who ran their own businesses, and both grew up poor. Hence, both
were terrified of depending on a business for a living. Who can blame them - especially as they were each
such good, secure providers for their own families?
Within a year of being out of university, I realized that while a job for twenty dollars an hour was
very hard to get, people were willing to pay twenty dollars an hour to a contractor - even for work they could
do themselves. Why was this, I asked. In fact, I asked myself that question for about fifteen years.
The arrival of social media brought me my answer: people don't have jobs just for the money, or even mainly for
the money. They have jobs as much for the social structure it gives them. Making money isn't that hard by itself,
but it is hard to get accepted by people in a workplace - unless they like you. People are social animals,
and their identity is largely who they know. When someone lets you know them, it changes their identity. People are
very guarded about that because the change could cause someone else not to like them any more. So when you want a
job, you're asking to join a group of people and enter their lives, and that's something much more valuable than money.
On the other hand, a contractor has no expectations of acceptance. You can hire a contractor without being associated
or identified with them. When the "contract" has been executed, the contractor is gone, not to return unless you
call. He or she doesn't affect your identity. The premium you pay is worth it, because there's no risk of a
I'm a contractor; I don't need to become part of anyone's life. Most people, however, have that need, so have a job.
One man who didn't, though, was Philo Beddoe (played by Clint Eastwood) of Every Which Way but Loose (1978).
A prizefighter - you can't get more freelance than that! Although most parents would reach for the heart pills if
their kid became a prizefighter, I'd much rather be that than do any job I've ever done.
Looking good, Philo! (By the way, I guess you fall for a lady in the movie, so in that way you are looking for a
relationship. Well, I'm married, so in spite of our maverick tendencies, we both have relationships to some extent).
Wikipedia was a source for this article.
IMDb was a source for this article.