New Pilgrim Chronicles:
One man's story of the trials and rewards of moving to Free State
Week Eight: Job One is Job One
by Brian Wright (copyright 2005)
For those readers not familiar with automotive-world phrases, Job 1 refers to the first car to be produced of the model being designed. Ford has a motto, "Quality is Job 1," which is supposed to mean the first car off the line will be a quality product. In the parlance, over time, the phrase "Job 1" has come to mean top priority. So when I say, "Job 1 is Job 1," I mean my top prioritybefore getting too hot and heavy for La Causais to get that first job.
In a manner of speaking, I've been conventionally unemployed for nearly two years and the freelance work isn't pulling in enough bread to keep me in deluxe accommodations and green fees. This longer span of underemployment has been largely my own choice, but external circumstances have played a role, too. The job market is tight, and it's been tight, geez, for at least three years.
I have some theories:
My main theory is the political class is winning the battle over the creative class in the corporo/government "marketplace." Decisions regarding personnel and even project-level decisions have become the province of human resources-related bureaucracies (these bureaucracies can usually trace their ancestry directly to exercises of state power), which have no idea how to produce anything. This causes two basic conditions:
Genuinely productive, creative people who exercise initiative and reveal a broad substrate of conceptual intelligence are less likely to be hired than more conforming minions, who typically display only mastery of the minutiae of the moment (please excuse the alliteration).
As production declines, real wealth erodes, leading to fewer dollars available to grow businesses and hire creative people; thus the system becomes victim to a feedback loop leading to rapid failure: the fewer creative people are hired, the fewer can be afforded.
In the medical profession, an excellent illustration of the politicization of
work lies in that thick layer of government aggression added by the Health
Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, also known as
the Kennedy-Kassenbaum Act. The alleged purpose of HIPAA (HIPPO) was to
simplify electronic recordkeeping and guarantee patient privacy. Of course, it
has been a complex, hyperexpensive mess.
The mandates of HIPPO have led to exorbitant expenses for consultants to interpret requirements and assure compliance. (I couldn't find any solid numbers during my Web search, but I did see gross cost of HIPPO initial compliance at $40 billion, with roughly $10 billion per year following that.) What boggles my mind is the innumerable workers who must become private-industry bureaucrats, i.e. performing no productive function except helping the government enforce its arbitrary edicts.
In the information technology (IT) profession, for financial information of public corporations, we have a new boondoggle on the block that, like HIPPO works to elevate the political class and diminish productive manhours: the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002. Senator Paul Sarbanes and Congressman Michael Oxley spearheaded this act as an alleged method to assure public corporation accountability after the Enron scandal. Just as HIPPO is guaranteed wealth-depleting employment for lawyers, SOX (SUX) is guaranteed wealth-depleting employment for accountants.
I'm bringing up HIPPO and SUX up only to illustrate the politicization of medicine and corporate accounting, respectively. These are laws that encourage unproductive behavior of otherwise capable minds. (I personally know several top minds, who spend their days basically enabling government paperwork.) And they further crowd out the creative class who seek honest work.
In the week 2 column I mentioned that during a Meet and Greet in Keene I talked with a Free State early mover, also in IT, who had required nearly a year to find a job. And then it turned out to be in Mass. I'm afraid there's a skew in the marketplace, for reasons related to the above arguments, against honest liberty-seeking people. Honest liberty-seeking people, for one thing, tend to eschew conformity and tell it like it is. We're more open and do not dissemble.
In the long run I believe we're going to have to go through some even more troubled times until we get to the new economy. (In my humble opinion, the new economy is going to be based on hemp, bioenergy, and cheap failsafe nuclear technology.) In the new post-fossil-fuel economy we're all going to be in great shape. Until then, most of us have to learn the game and thread the needle to find work at the level appropriate to our skills. Fortunately, in my case, I don't mind delivering pizzas if it comes to that.
Sorry, getting off track.
Let's just say the ideal situation for someone coming to the Free State in these highly politicized job times is to already have a job, or to be transferredthough I believe the Free State is more conducive to employment than most other states.
For me it consists of a lot of electronic work through the job boards, chiefly Dice.com. I've found it to be the best source for my techwriting inquiries. Also, I've discovered Peterborough is known by some as the literary center of the state, and has a fair number of book, magazine, and publishing outfits. Next week is the full court press with the resume and the telephone.
I might mention for the benefit of job seekers, use the boards shown on that great FSP web page with every great link on it. Plus, use your telephone and networking skills. People, at least 90% of them, in New Hampshire are as friendly as speckled pups, and they naturally like you and want to help you. Remember my motto (something I've learned from decades of doing it the wrong way):
"Don't try to do everything at once, and don't try to do everything all by yourself."
Another potential obstacle in finding work is if you have a "felony" in your background. These days, we know felonies aren't what they used to be. Heck, someone told me it's a felony in some states to fail to move to the left lane if a policeman has someone pulled over on the right shoulder.(!) And, of course, we have all those drug "felonies"heck, the number of marijuana felons has to reach into the millions by now. And, candidly, I'm one of them. (It's a long, bizarre story, consider this, what happened to a friend of mine.)
But as much as having a nonaggressive felony should be a badge of honorand it is for most libertariansas far as your conventional job search, most firms take a dim view of such heroics. Or I should say most "statist human resources' bureaucracies that have swallowed corporate life like a Tennessee Kudzu weed" take a dim view. And generally they kick your papers for it. I've found some workarounds to the background-check conundrum, so if a nonaggressive felony is an issue for you as an early mover, send me a note and we'll talk it over.
Note: Another great idea: a "defelonization" amendment. For states that have referendum processes, this would be a valuable public service. You remove felony status from all consensual crimes and expunge the records of all those convicted. Brilliant.
Pertinent to forgoing discussion: this week I finally go to the department of motor vehicles to get my driver's license. You have to appreciate my anxiety.
I purposely choose Milford, NH, which only handles drivers' licenses on Thursdays and Fridays. There's hardly any line. I fill out the paperwork, including my SS#, bring my driver's license from Michigan, an official imprinted birth certificate, and one other piece of evidence that I am who I say I am. The state cops doing the processing aren't even armed. (The DMV in Houston looks like an arsenal!)
But make no mistake, this is still a government operation. A pretty young woman queued beside me has a Catch-22: she needs an official release from Concord that her license suspension is finished, but she can't get that release until they approve her temporary license, and they can't approve her license until she gets the release. But the two officers are at least mildly sympathetic, much closer to being human than the cops back in State State.
My Barney Fife is a little bit older, tries to come off gruff. "That'll be $50." I wonder what the $94 I paid back in the Town Hall was for that was supposed to be for the state, I thought. But it's done. Further, a slight alteration from my full middle name on the Michigan license to a middle initial on this temporary one might throw someone off the track if they're trying to do background checks. Yippie! I'm officially a Free State guy now.
Listen, folks, you're going to be a lot better off here in the Free State if the federales try something like martial law, or clamp the screws down on freethinking people. The police here are much more inclined to identify with the ordinary citizen. They mostly appear to be normal human beings, and you can even talk to them.
Note: Naturally, there are new federal laws regarding what's acceptable ID and what isn't. The following bill regarding state driver's licenses became law. Public Law 109-13 tightens up on the identification process states must use to establish ID.
Allegedly to prevent terrorists, but we know the true reason, it's a national ID system for all us loyal subjects of Big Brother. New Hampshire's going along, but it doesn't seem to be fanatic about it. I'll bet across the line in Mass. or over in New York, the officials are really licking their chops.
So, that's a red-letter day for a red-letter week.
Locally, in New Boston, I find a walking trail down by the Piscataquog River. It's not too remote, and on the other side of the river I can still hear traffic and the ubiquitous Harleys. I also finish the procedure for getting signed up at the Goffstown Y, so I can go work out. I go in there on Sunday, and I kid you not, I'm the only one in the Wellness Center! You have to wonder what it will be like in the winter.
I've decided to make the number of these chronicles an even dozen.
Unless a miracle happens, I expect I will be around and participating in enough of the local events to give you mover sooners and mover laters some additional data points. As I've said a million times, we have all these great people here already, and they get together all the time; I haven't got a round tuit yet, but in the next four chrons, I plan to put some tracks down on the Free State social life and report back.
(to be continued)