Monday, April 24, 2017

Sorry for not posting, Pimpernel was working.

I know I am retired; but, in the past six months I have done some consulting. In one case I got them a $6,000,000 job and charged them a dinner. That was the meal I had at the New Zealand restaurant. It was a good meal and not cheap. That was my decision and like everything I do, it had more than one reason. This second job was for money. It wasn't just for money, neither job was. I helped some friends who I like and agree with in these cases. I won't work for people I don't like or on issues I am against. In fact, the second job I said that if I didn't accomplish what needed to be done by me, I wouldn't charge them at all. I only want to get paid if I succeed and if I do get someone a contract then my preference is to be paid a percentage of the job based on the value of my work.

The second job took me a week or two. I didn't work non-stop, sat in my pajamas, had a glass of wine and smoke while I wrote. I never bothered tracking my hours for billing. I work until I am satisfied with what I have written (doesn't apply to the blog, this is not work). All involved are confident that what I have written getting them another 6 million dollar contract. Because of their confidence in what I have done, today we actually discussed my compensation. The owner brought it up. This job will pay me more than most people get paid in a year. I will make about $25,000.

You want to hear the funny thing. Most of the people who know me think it is way too little. Now that's a head scratcher for you. I personally don't know how to determine what I do is worth. I have no way knowing what is right. If you asked me how much time I actually spent writing what I wrote, maybe two hours or three. If you ask me how much time I spent researching, maybe two hours. If you ask me how much time I spent thinking about it, non-stop; but, at differing levels. It was always somewhere in my brain even while I was listening to music or making food. I cannot see paying me by the hour.

So, what did I provide. In both cases they had been told they would not get contracts that they deserved and in both cases I proved that the rules were wrong. What is that worth. What is it worth to get a 6 million dollar contract for a company after they have been told no? The truth is in both cases I was given a four day turn around, the rest of the time was spent in follow up to make sure things went the way planned. There was nobody else that could have gotten the results I did, in the time frame I had. Yet, I did what I did while sitting in my chair drinking wine. If I spend a couple of weeks researching something for to write about in the blog, I don't get paid anything, not even if I write a really good post (it happens sometimes).

What is the value of your labor? That is the essence of the question of capitalism and communism. Communism says that everyone must work and every worker deserves the same. Jesus told two stories about compensation for your efforts. In one a slave owner gives three slaves ten dollars and wants to see what they do with it, knowing that he is a greedy man who wants what he does not earn. He comes back and find one made $100, one made $10 and the last one didn't take any risk and gave back the $10 the owner had given him. The owner got mad at the one who gave the $10 back without having made any more. The moral of the story is that it is your responsibility to make the world better because you are here. The second story involves a master who hires three people for the exact same amount of money and each works for different amounts of time, two hours, four hours and eight hours (these are just examples, not transcripts of the bible verses). The people who have worked the 8 hour shift complain that people who worked a 2 hour shift were paid the same. The master says it is none of your business what he pays others, you agreed to do the job for that amount of money. This parable is also not about money, it is about how heaven is the reward for everyone who accepts Jesus. Neither is meant to set a rule regarding what you pay someone. The only time the bible talks about what you should pay a worker, it says pay the worker his due.

When I was first mentioned compensation to the person who is about to pay me $25,000, I said that what he paid me was between God and him. It doesn't involve me. It is the person who hires you that is morally responsible for deciding what you are due. If you think I don't mean this, go back and read the whole post. Whether or not I help someone in the future, that may depend on how they have paid me in the past. It may not. In either case, what I get paid does not define me. It never has. It never should.

I could not be replaced on these jobs by a computer or UBER. They could not have automated what I did. I got called in after everyone else had failed. I can do that all day every day. My labor will continue to have value. What about the millions of people who drive for a living and are going to lose their jobs because of self driving vehicles? They cannot all become computer programmers or doctors or singers or musicians or directors or stars. What is the labor of people worth when you don't need the labor of most people? What do you do when you don't need any labor from most people?

Both communism and capitalism believe that people are only valuable because of their labor. Do people have an innate value, I would argue that they do. The bible says we are all equally valuable in his eyes. If minimum wage was $10 an hour than a years work of labor would be worth about $21,000 a year. Should we pay the unemployed at least minimum wage? What is minimum wage when you don't need anyone to do any work? What is a life worth?