A Short Post (promise!) About Needing More Economic Freedom to Realize Your Potential

“But wait!” some of you naysayers might be shouting after my last entry about creating a world where people don’t have to spend all their time working just to get by, “if people didn’t have to work, then they’d just sit around playing video games until they ran out of money, and then society would fall apart!  The only way to keep people from being lazy is to make sure they’re working hard so they can learn responsibility!”

I hear different versions of this argument a lot, and it always irks me because it assumes that the majority of people are innately Lazy and Useless, so we have to force them to work just to teach them a lesson.

This argument falls apart when you consider that being forced to work uninspiring, mindless jobs makes you see work solely as a chore, like that dishwashing metaphor I always use for unpleasant tasks Continue reading »

“I Put in My Headphones and I’m Gone” – One Man’s Perspective on the Day Job Life

A few weeks ago I met a guy who worked in a large corporate office.  I don’t remember his name, and I’ve changed a few biographical details here to protect his anonymity, but I’m writing about him today because he was able to describe his job in one of the most perceptive ways I’d ever heard.

This guy—Mel, I’ll call him—had been working for the same company for ten or so years, and looked to be in his early fifties.  Before that he’d worked in restaurants, owned a business, managed a ski lodge, and even been a private investigator.  Now, though, he had a family, and lived Continue reading »

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket: An Interview with Poet James Crews

I met James Crews at the University of Nebraska where he worked as a mentor for my first-year teaching class while finishing his poetry PhD.  We kept in touch, and when we both found ourselves in the northeast I drove out to southern Vermont to the farmhouse he shares with his partner in Shaftsbury (which, coincidentally, is just up the road from Bennington College, where I did my undergrad). Continue reading »

Is Your Workplace Socially Toxic?

I’m an introvert, which means I gain energy from being alone and I exert energy whenever I’m around people, especially large groups.  This doesn’t mean that I hate being around people—in fact, a lot of people who know me will tell you that I’m at my most boisterous when I’m at parties or giving speeches.

This relates to work (specifically Day Job work) in that Continue reading »

Unpaid Overtime is Not Cool (and What You Can Do About It)

There’s a lot of things I hate (rude people, traffic jams, being called “buddy” in conversation), but not getting paid for the work I’ve done takes the top slot.  This isn’t because I’ve been stiffed on a paycheck, but because I’ve had jobs where I had to face off against my arch nemesis unpaid overtime.

Check out this graph from the Economic Policy Institute showing Continue reading »

Paul Hanson Clark Interview Part II: Cookies, Capitalist Voodoo, and the Work-Art Balance

This is Part 2 of my interview with poet, artist, and part-time cookiemaker Paul Hanson Clark, so you can check out Part 1 here.

 

But I Also Have a Day Job: So to make your life work and still do your art, you have to go to your web editing job during the day and make the doughs in the afternoon. Continue reading »

How Japanese Honne and Tatemae Separate Work and Home Life, and Why You Should Too

I taught English lessons at a for-profit Japanese eikaiwa (conversation school) in Yamanashi Prefecture from 2009 to 2011, and one of the things that most struck me about the Japanese work environment was how easily the Japanese separate their work lives from their home lives.  There’s a lot of cultural factors at work here, but the one people explained to me most often was the idea of honne and tatemae: Continue reading »