The reason I have a job is that I have a skill that someone will pay me for. If that changed, then I would join the 7.6% who are currently unemployed.
My number should be up soon, Nancy Pelosi says that every month 500 million American jobs are lost. That means I've got three weeks, tops. Then again, politicians shouldn't be expected to tell thousands from millions, or even billions, with the kind of stimulus figures that get thrown around Congress these days. What's a couple orders of magnitude between friends?
But I digress. If I couldn't get paid for what I do, the only thing I could do is turn to the government, right? Ha! Not this libertarian. I'd starve to death before asking the government to steal from my neighbors. (Where do you think the government gets the money?) Just to show you why I don't want or need a safety net, let me run down some of the things I might try if my employment were negatively affected.
- If my job was on the line, the first thing I would try is negotiate for reduced pay for reduced work. Because I live within my means (30% of my income is directed toward savings) I could at least live with that much less and live the same lifestyle.
- Of course, no matter what, I would reduce unnecessary costs. Goodbye cable TV, thermostat down, sell one car, cancel the gym membership, reduce cell phone minutes, and cook at home more often. I'd probably keep the Internet access and Netflix as long as possible, but that would go if it keeps the mortgage paid.
- Unemployment insurance. Yes, private unemployment insurance is not expensive, and if I lost my job, this would be my first line of defense.
- I could become an auto or motorcycle mechanic. In this poor economy, people are not replacing their old cars with new ones, and the repair business is up. I can follow a diagnostic flow chart, and use basic tools. I could probably start as an apprentice right away, but it would probably help to get some education and certification. Good thing I bought unemployment insurance.
- I could teach Spanish, thanks to my Dominican wife. Or I could teach English to Hispanic people. I could teach English overseas, too. Japan, for example, ships in native speakers to teach English in school. I've heard they pay well, and take good care of you. It would suck to be away from my family, but at list this would support them.
- I could tutor. There's always kids that need help, and their parents will pay to keep them from falling behind in school. If I was willing to put in the effort, I could become a real teacher. It would take a lot of frugality to survive the half dozen years of education and training it takes to become a teacher, but I doubt the education industry will be going away any time soon.
- I could be a handyman. I fix stuff around the house all the time, I'll bet someone would pay me $50 to fix their electric range instead of paying $400 for a new one. Maybe I should ask for $100. I can come to your house and change the oil in your car, or paint your dining room.
- I could become a real handy professional, like a licensed plumber or electrician. I'd lean toward electrician, because electricity speaks to me more than pipes, but if the demand was for plumbers, I'd be a plumber.
You see, it's not about having a job. It's providing value. That's why we have money, to measure the amount value you provide. And there's nothing that says you are entitled to a job doing what you want, or what you did before. But if someone hires you, it's because they think that's the best use of their money. Isn't that better than government pity?