Q/A: Can You Be Free With A Real Job?


April 25, 2014 by Liberty

Having a real job can be a real drag for libertarians for a ton of different reasons. That’s why many libertarians end up going out on their own. I’ve been able to escape my need for a traditional job for survival for the same reasons. Not all of the freedoms are quite as clear cut as I used to think before though. Here’s the question:

I’ve been working a regular minimum wage job to pay my way through college. Since graduation, I haven’t been able to get a better job so far. Honestly, I haven’t been very enthusiastic about finding a job anyway. I can pay my bills fine. I feel like I’d do better focusing on freelance stuff instead of the traditional jobs. I feel like getting a real job will just get me into another set of bureaucracy without much payoff. With taxes and everything, I’d feel like just a cog in the system. What should I do?

Obvious answer. Who knows.

Don’t overestimate the freedoms you have not working a regular job. With everything in life, freedoms need balancing. You can’t be free from everything. Quite frankly, freedom is probably one of the least effective ways to think about this situation. Freedom is impossible to define clearly anyway.

On Being A Government Cog: It can feel horrible to see the money from your paycheck being sent to the IRS to fund drones that murder people. It can feel like you’re just supporting the system. The truth is, you’re not. You’re having your money stolen before you even get to touch it.

If you were making that money on your own, you’d still legally be forced to pay those taxes. (If you choose to risk jail time then I could understand.) Odds are, they’re still going to be getting your money. Don’t let your preference depend on how the government is going to steal your money. In fact, it might be easier to get it stolen without you having to pay for it out of your pocket.

On Being A Corporate Cog: Yep, you could easily get lost in the shuffle.

That being said, you choose the companies you apply to. If you fear being just a number for a company then don’t apply to companies that you’d be a number. It’s not too bad to just be a number though. In fact, it can often lead to more freedom from higher pay.

With that on the table, even if you go freelance, you’re not going to be completely free. You’re going to have to deal with other people. Oftentimes, you’ll have to work more time for less money. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Even minimum wage can look like an attractive alternative at times.

Ultimately, we are all just cogs (even in the free market.) The economy is way bigger than any of us. We all need to sacrifice certain freedoms to earn certain other freedoms. It’s like that with every major decision in life.

You need to pick your poisons in life. Don’t feel the need to pick all of one though. Apply for jobs some. Freelance a little. Maybe get temp work. You’ll never know what you’re really looking for until you try a few different things.


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One thought on “Q/A: Can You Be Free With A Real Job?

  1. Garry Reed says:

    As you said freedom is difficult to define. If you choose to live in human society you are by definition not “free” from other people. Even if you live in a 100% voluntary libertarian society you will still never be free from others because even if you go off into the woods and live in a cave you’re still likely dependent on that hunting knife and that rifle and sleeping bag that were
    manufactured by other people working in whole industries filled with tens of thousands of people. And if you get a bad case of gangrene you’ll likely go running right back to — guess what — medical people.

    So be intelligent and realistic with your usage of the word “free.” After all, the only way to become “free” from the need for food, water, shelter and air is to be dead.

    I didn’t want to be a cog in anyone’s machine either but I accepted that there was no realistic way to become free from government coercion without potential serious consequences so I became as free as I realistically could — I became a freelance technical writer / supportability engineer working on a contract basis for client companies for over 30 years.

    Not as “free” as becoming an entrepreneur or freebooter pirate or whatever but it worked for me and I definitely felt much freer than a direct-hire employee.

    All you can ever do is the best you can do. Just become as free as you realistically can and enjoy it.

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