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Suspicion and fear about self employment

© December 2005 Tony Lawrence

Like Rodney Dangerfield, sometimes we get no respect. The owner of a medium sized company once said to me "Somehow all those 'consultants' end up working for us". As I was a consultant when she said that, I was a little insulted. But it doesn't end there: most consultants and other small self employed people will tell of disapproving looks from family and friends when the business venture was first proposed. In spite of professed admiration for the self-made man and people who build success from nothing, it seems like most of society really wants you to have a "real job".

Governments seem to feel the same way. Part of that is concern about lost tax revenues; there seems to be a belief that the self employed are more apt to cheat on taxes than larger corporations. I think it's probably the other way around in reality, though the large scale cheating may be done in other ways (like getting special laws passed, twisting the intent of existing laws, etc.), but the self employed are often viewed with suspicion.

There are also social welfare concerns. Some of the self employed are really unemployed people scratching out a meager existence and perhaps being abused by unscrupulous contractors who hire them. That's one of the reasons that there are sometimes artificial and arbitrary barriers to simple self employment. Finally, existing business sometimes feel threatened by independent operators and seek licensing restrictions or other qualifications to prevent such low overhead competition.

It can all be a little discouraging, can't it? But when all is said and done, we still pilot our own course, don't we? We aren't drones who eat and sleep when our masters permit it; we control our own time, and of course our own destiny. I'd rather have that than anything else.

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