Tuesday, August 28, 2018

"My" Labor Day

As if on cue, next Monday, whatever remaining newspapers are left in the USA, after the rest folded, will have their obligatory Labor Day column, where they will say their respective huzzahs and make obsequious verbal bows toward, not the working man and woman, but organized labor, an institution which outlived its usefulness sometime in the 1950s.  Except in baseball, but that's another story.

Wage-earning, "W-2" employees will get a paid day off, including government bureaucrats and lots of other folks, respectable folks who actually perspire (or, in the case of woman employees, "glow").

Me?  I'm not sure Labor Day is for me, not that I ask for any sympathy.  As a consultant, a full-time worker but a "1099" type who is paid by clients and not an employer, my Labor Day is an unpaid day off, unless I sneak in a few hours in the morning, before the neighbors come around for burgers and franks in the afternoon.  And who wants to do that?  (The work, not the burgers)

I may have to do a couple hours, since I'm in the middle of a proposal effort and the Government deadlines for my client are fixed and the work has to get done.  If I were to work all day and make it up later, I still wouldn't get paid for the makeup day off.

But it is going to be Labor Day, and you will not catch me complaining.  Let me count the ways and the reasons I will not complain.

1. I am gainfully engaged.  I can't say "employed", because I'm under a consulting agreement to my clients, but I have work to do and am able to be paid for it, and I have full-time work.  Lots of people, particularly in the last administration, went unemployed for so long that they stopped being counted as "unemployed."  Just being able to be paid is wonderful and I'm grateful for a market for my trade.

2. I live where I want.  Since my clients are dispersed around the country, I don't have to live anywhere particular, and so I live where I choose.  I never have to travel anywhere, and can decline assignments requiring me to be away.

3. It's related to #1, but I feel needed.  We often hear of people happy with the accomplishments of a good day's work, and not only do I get that feeling, but I get occasional calls from brand-new clients asking my assistance.  Ten years ago, when my last actual employer folded half its tent and let go half its workforce, including me, I could not get a sniff of an offer.  Of course I was 57 at the time (yes, read the link).  Consulting is an odd situation -- where age is a detriment in getting hired, it's a wonderful asset if you charge by the hour.

4. The SEP-IRA, the greatest gift to consultants, like ever.  We are responsible for our own saving for retirement, of course, and the Simplified Employee Pension IRA allows consultants to put a wonderful percentage of our revenue aside, tax-deferred, far more than we could do as W-2 employees.  I won't be retiring soon, but because of SEP-IRA, at least I will be able to, at some point.

Not asking for a "Consultant's Day", mind you.  Just happy to have things as they are, and I don't need a holiday to celebrate it.

But I'll take one anyway.  I'll just call it something different from what the press will.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
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  1. Having grown up in a country where May 1 was the "Labor" day, I witnessed the huge turnout of the communist party in many European countries in order to grab the mantle of "protector of labor".

    I'm also a man who had to really try in his 50's to find employment, especially after having been out of my field for a long time. I agree with all 4 of your reasons and I would rather celebrate with a day at work, but since no one else will be there....

  2. If it weren't for the burgers.....