Sunday, December 27, 2015

Wage Slavery And Multiple Streams Of Income

I can thank Mike Oscar Hotel, over at for accidentally giving me the idea for this post. He’d made the comment on one of my posts (paraphrased here) that, while it was sort of too late for him, he was trying to teach his kids not to be wage slaves. I can certainly sympathize. Besides the virtual slavery “working for the man” entails, such employment can end at literally any moment. That can throw a gigantic monkey wrench into the lifestyle of the average American.

While I worked several part-time jobs on the side over the years, I spent the first 20 years of my adult life in self-employment. Had I remained single, I would have remained self-employed. However, when you’re married, you tend to try making your partner happy, even after you learn that happiness will be forever unattainable. As a result, I accumulated some debts which gradually grew beyond my ability to pay for on the income I had from self-employment. So, I went to work at the factory.

Unfortunately, it really is true that the more you make, the more you tend to spend. That’s why my debts actually grew, and I had no choice but to sell my ancestral home when I saw that the factory was eventually going to close (despite what THEY said). It goes back to living beyond your means (debt) and growing dependant on the job furnished you by the man. Let’s face it; the only person who actually makes it in this world is the man at the top. That’s why you need to be king of the hill, YOUR hill, even if it’s little more than a mole hill. You will never fire YOU, Even when times are bad! That doesn’t mean that your business can’t fail, but at least you won’t get the axe due to corporate belt-tightening.

Personally, I believe that if you want an income that is relatively safe, regardless of the economy, you first need to provide a product or service that is needed no matter what shape the economy is in. Being a self-employed plumber or electrician would fall under that description, but it may require a few years of apprenticeship to get there. Being someone who repairs lawn-mowers and chainsaws might be another example that would be easier to get into, IF you have the talent. A carpenter or general handyman may also fit the bill. One fellow that I used to know spent his life plowing gardens and brush-hogging properties for people.

It’s good, also, to have what writer and businessman Robert Kiyosaki calls “multiple streams of income” in his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I don’t care for the man’s politics, but the business idea is sound. In fact, my father (and later myself) had unwittingly followed it when we had the family business. Of course, we just called it “not putting all our eggs in one basket.”

It stands to reason that you should try to use whatever resources and talents are available and comfortable for you. We didn’t have any technical training, but we had the family farm, a sawmill, a few hundred acres of timber at our disposal and the skills accumulated from a life of living on the land.

The cattle were originally the main concern of the farm, since granddad had a dairy at one time. After he got a second-hand sawmill, the sawmill gradually became the best money-maker, so they concentrated on it and turned from dairying to beef cattle, which required less of a time investment. The lumber business was only good during the time of year when they could get the tractors and truck into the woods. Much of the winter was a bit bleak, then, for sawmill income. However, They stacked up their slabs, rather than burn them like many mills did back then. They also cut the tree limbs into firewood, rather than leaving them in the woods like most loggers. That way, they could saw up the slabs into firewood lengths in the winter time, mix them with the wood from the treetops and sell the wood to folks with woodstoves and fireplaces.

Edgings were saved, too, and ripped into tomato stakes and bean poles during the spring, when it was still too muddy to reach the woods dependably. Of course, there were calves, and sometimes yearlings to sell in the fall or winter, and we sold extra hay, when we had it. We also worked in quite a bit of mowing and baling for other people at an hourly or per bale rate. Several years before he passed away, Dad began selling Christmas trees that he grew on fields no longer needed by the cattle. Eventually, a few years of low prices caused him to drop the cattle all together.

I kept the business going when Dad died, too young, at age 59. Gradually, not following my own judgment caused the debt that eventually did me in and caused me to become a wage slave like most other people. It doesn’t have to be that way. If at all possible, you’d be wise to find a way to work for yourself. In a failing economy, it may be the only option.

Just for the record, I’ve read that when this country was founded, we were a nation of small businesses, since the industrial revolution hadn’t quite arrived on the scene yet, and serfdom wasn’t the law of the land on the new continent. Find a few things you can do to turn a buck and start building on them; you might be surprised what you accomplish. © 2015


2 comments: said...

When I worked at the dump, I had a coworker that was 19. Smart kid. Mature beyond his years. He asked me what I would do different, being that I was nearly twice his age. I told him I'd learn skills and work under no man, like you just talked about.

Six months later, he was a farrier. A year after that, he had his real estate license. He's 21.

He has two skills that are pretty diverse. He can always fall back on the other if times get tough. Plus, we taught him how to drive a front end loader, excavator and roll of truck.

Great article, GS.

Gorges Smythe said...

Not too many young fellows like that around, Mike!