Lately, there has been a lot of discussion about Americans not wanting to go back to work, the crux being that unemployment benefits are too good for jobs to compete. Which is obnoxious because it avoids the entire axiom of the free marketplace. If unemployment insurance pays better than the job at hand, then pay a better wage. But Republicans would rather discuss how lazy Americans are, because that’s what you do at the end of the day when you actually hate Americans.
One reason B.R. Cards exists is for the sad fact that crazy, lazy Sole Member can’t find a conventional job. In 1999, when I first broke out on my own, I had been out of college for 7 years and had been consistently in the workforce for over a decade. Like many young people, I spent a lot of time in the food service industry. But there comes a time when you don’t want to do that anymore, and like I tell my father every time we have one of these discussions about my frustrations over not finding work, that time came for me at the end of my 30s when I shut down a bar I had been running for over 9 years. That was a business I began with two others and came out at the end as the sole owner. Not coincidentally, it was the last time I found myself consistently employed.
(I appreciated my first gig as a boss. Made sure the company drug test was a series of surprise pot quizzes so as to keep everyone on their toes.)
Maybe my values are different, but to me, the takeaway from the bar was that for 9 years, I kept more than 10 people on payroll and always paid my taxes. I did find work as a contactor at a global tech firm for a few years, and though I performed well, it wasn’t enough to guarantee my next job assignment when the contract ran out. Employers only see a position to fill, not the person to groom into the job. And they definitely don’t want to pay health care. Or even your lunch, as that hour is strictly unpaid. So that 8-hour shift is actually 9 hours at work. Add in the commute, and suddenly you’re spending 50 hours a week on a job that pays as little as possible for 40 of them. Sweet gig!
I tried to be a good employer to my staff. It was my first business after years of working front-of-house jobs myself. Bartenders got paid $5 per hour rather than the state-sanctioned $3.50, plus tips, and my doormen got paid $10/hr because they were expected to clean up all the vomit. It didn’t always work out as my morning rounds would sometimes attest, and I did eventually go out of business. But all bars do that. At least I was able to look at myself in the mirror while I did so.
I guess if you’re a faceless corporation, you literally can not do that. I also guess these corps will have to grow arms so that they can pour their own damn drinks.