The most typical view of labor is that of a helpless wage slave, subjugated by circumstance to work in an environment not of his choosing for a boss he doesn’t like and for a wage which he was forced to accept. The assumption is that people offering up labor in the marketplace have no say in who hires them or how much they can charge for their labor. Granted, everyone must make decisions based upon personal circumstances that can often be restrictive to one’s desires, but that doesn’t mean everyone has somehow lost their free will.
I’m not sure why people hold to such a dim view of their own abilities so doggedly. This view offers very little hope for improvement. After all, it means you must depend upon the whims of someone else for help in your situation. Do you really want to fully depend on other people, such as the boss you hate, or the company you despise, or the politician that lies to you and steals your money to solve the problems of your financial welfare and station in life? I can’t imagine a more helpless feeling. The fact is that accepting that you are master of your own fate is incredibly empowering. It means you have some control and you can actually do something about it.
You don’t have to wait for some political movement or for untrustworthy politicians to increase the minimum wage to get paid better for your labor. You just have to think of things differently. In essence, everyone is an independent contractor – offering labor for payment to perform certain tasks with certain expertise. It doesn’t matter whether all you do is sweep the floors. You still have your own personal work ethic and expertise to offer for a price that you can set yourself. You just have to justify that price in order to sell your services. People pay more money for things that give them greater advantage.
When considering independent contractors – people mostly in the trades, like plumbers, carpenters, the people who mow your lawn, etc. – most people would be angry if the government said you had to contract them for a minimum amount of money. Instead, you pay them the amount of money you think the job demands based upon how much value it adds for your needs and compare that to the services other people offer that are similar. Artificially raising the minimum amount you pay for such services destroys the process that allows you to determine what payment is most suitable for the work performed. It’s no different for anyone that is employed by a company to perform the tasks they need done.
So now, if you recognize that you are not a helpless person forced to work under circumstances you didn’t choose, you can focus on your own personal business. You are a business of one. You offer your labor for a given price to perform tasks that can benefit others in a unique way that only you can provide. How do you present the sort of work you offer, and how can you improve the services you offer to demand a higher rate? If you do things in a way that adds greater benefits than others offering similar services, you can demand more money, and people will pay it. You operate a personal business and must determine a marketing strategy. Those with poor strategies make less money. If you want to make more money, then improve your business and your strategies.
What happens when you don’t want to pay the rate a contractor is asking for his services? He moves on to find someone else willing to pay it. He demonstrates and explains why the type of work he does justifies his price and how he is different from others you could hire, and then he works for people willing to pay his rate. If there is a contractor that doesn’t offer up as much talent, he charges less and tries to work more jobs and becomes the low cost provider, which is perfectly acceptable as well. There is a demand for that, but if you want to increase your rate, then you have to offer more and become a more specialized provider of services.
While circumstances often dictate the type of work we must accept – be it education level, being born into difficult family situations or difficult financial constraints – no one is completely helpless to make themselves a better contractor, offering better services. Many things don’t cost anything, in terms of money or time, that can improve the work you offer and can demand a higher rate. Things like honesty, work ethic, integrity, and willingness to learn, do not cost anything but can demand a higher rate for services provided. And, many people do have a little extra time (at some point) and perhaps a little bit of extra money to enhance their service offerings. They also improve how they market themselves, justifying why they are worth more money, and if a client is unwilling to pay the rate they should be able to get for those services, then they move on to other clients who will pay those rates.
You can create your own minimum wage. The minimum rate you charge for your own services. You run your own contracting business, and you set your own rates. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can charge for your own labor. It is your business, after all, and you live and die by how well you operate it. Contract yourself out for whatever rates you can bring, and if you don’t like those rates, do what any business owner does and improve what you offer and how you market those offerings. Your minimum wage is whatever you want it to be.
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