I sometimes find it funny to compare urban myths from the last century with the trends of the new millennium regarding the economy and the perspectives of the labor market.
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Graphic copyright © Diana Andreea Bădrăgan, 2017
1. They say that a job as an employee is” safe”. This myth was valid in the industrial era, especially during communism, and it is still good in certain countries with socialist politics for public employees. However, in the IT era, capitalism and globalization, not even the existence of the states is safe, not to mention the presence of the companies.
2. The employee” job” is similar to the term “workplace,” as if it were essential to go somewhere to work and you cannot work from home. The virtualization trend is so strong that we will soon be able to have holographic meetings with our workmates from several parts of the Earth by using Voice Over IP via Microsoft Hololens or other similar technologies. The term “workplace” also implies that one cannot work anywhere, for instance, from the comfort of your own home.
3. For many people,” job” is equivalent to” work”. If you are not employed, this means for some that you don’t work at all. Consequently, you are wasting space, and you’d better ensure the wind won’t dissipate you to some forgotten corner of the Universe. Mothers staying with their children daily, volunteers working in associations, and artists working on their own are thought” not to be working” according to this uncompromising conception because if it is work we are talking about, it means that somebody else is paying you for it…
4.” Job” is also equivalent to” safe income”. Preferably high, but at least safe. So, the income must be safe and guaranteed if you have your own business. Isn’t it? Then it’s somewhat risky for some… As a source of income, some also view investments with disbelief because they concern abstract and technological aspects that imply knowledge (unlike jobs?). The safe income is also equivalent, according to the mental maps of some, with “safe living”, i.e., if you don’t have enough money, nobody will kick you out of your house next month – but in two months.
5. Jobs are also considered a pillar of stability for those who want to buy some real estate and think jobs are a vehicle for guaranteeing a bank loan to offer this property. In reality, more and more people travel on business, and the costs required by an active lifestyle are approaching or are even under the costs of living in a large city. Moreover, I cannot realize when real estate has become more important than a person’s individual development. If somebody considers buying a parallelepiped is a safer investment than taking internationally acknowledged and specialized training courses, then probably the value a person gives to themselves is lower than the bricks building the prison they lock themselves into.
6. Jobs are also considered” safe” because they come with the” benefit” of state health insurance, which in some countries means a chase in a bureaucratic system full of stamps, documents, and dysfunctional IT systems in which, eventually, the sick have some rights. In other words, according to this idea, employees are not allowed to dare to be proactive regarding their health (there is no time, it is not required, and it is not covered by insurance) because it costs money and time from private physicians, to which they resort pretty late. In Sweden, for instance, the social model of health insurance works backward: citizens pay for most of their tests, examinations, and medicines, and what exceeds a particular annual ceiling (in case they come down with a severe illness) is covered by the state. Thus, citizens are encouraged to be proactive about their health because, if not, they are the first ones to pay for it, not the state.
7. Jobs are also associated, at times, with the promise of a future guaranteed by a pension after retirement. This system was adopted less than a century ago because most employees would not live to retire, and the number of those contributing to the retirement system was lower than that of the supported ones. Many have contributed for 25 or 30 years to a system working according to the saying,” if you give it to me, I’ll give it to you” (unlike the 401K system based on investments from the USA). Now they expect to live based on that contribution for the next 25-30 years, bearing in mind that there are more socially-assisted persons than contributors, and the value of the pensions will most likely be below the value of the salaries.
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Graphic copyright © Diana Andreea Bădrăgan, 2017
To this, we add the East Europeans working in the European Union. They settle in another country and ask for pensions from their home state, which obliges the home state to give them an even higher allowance than they would have received in the home country, which is as correct as possible in their case. Have a look at your parents and grandparents who have retired. Do you think that they manage to live off their pensions? If they can’t manage to do this now, what makes you think that you will? I don’t think you need to excel at math to realize that this is only a collective hallucination.
So, if jobs can disappear at any time, they can be performed anywhere, with (almost) anybody, in exchange for a salary that can only rarely provide a stable, decent living; they can indirectly endanger your health in the long run, make you indebted for a little bit of space, and lie to you about your financial perspectives after retirement, why are so many people looking for a job? Most likely, they believe in some of the myths above, which have probably been valid in the past or are still valid under restricted circumstances. However, there are also other reasons, this time authentic, to obtain and work hard as an employee. In a future article, I will write about some of them.
Text copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2018-present. Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the article “7 mituri cu privire la slujbe, “published initially by Marcus Victor Grant in Romanian on the 4th of April 2019 on Discerne. The original version of this article has been considered the 3rd best in quality of all the articles I wrote and published in 2019. Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved. Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved
Graphics copyright © Diana Andreea Bădrăgan, 2017
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