One of the greatest causes of frustration among working Americans, is the daily surrendering of themselves to the whims of bosses managers and owners. Many of us have little to no say in what we do in our jobs and most of us would rather use that time to be doing something else. That is why I welcome any move that lessens our dependence any given job, gives us more control over our own lives and puts more bargaining power in our hands. This is why I favor rolling back the regulatory state, as well as licensing and zoning requirements.
Simply put, these things are some of the biggest obstacles to creating the type of a world I would like to live in: a world where anyone who wishes, can start a restaurant, garage, bakery, salon, barber shop, coffee house, t-shirt shop, day care center or massage parlor out of their own home. I would even go as far as to argue that people should be able to start bars, brothels, marijuana dispensaries and strip clubs from their own homes too if they wish and that all these home based enterprises should have the same status of legitimacy as any other business. Furthermore, people should be free to raise goats, chickens and any food producing crops from their homes as well.
I’m not saying that starting some sort of home based, business is for everyone, and I do recognize as many have pointed out that it can be a lot of work, but I also recognize that it need not be. If you already own the factors of production, and the work space, than you are free from the high over-head that come from owning the type of commercial property required by the current regulatory regime as well as many zoning laws. Furthermore, since you own all the factors involved you can choose how many hours you wish to dedicate to this business and what times of days, as well as what days you wish to work.
This could be very helpful to someone who is only working part time and needs a way to supplement their income or someone who wants a to have a plan b that can be used to further their bargaining power at their current position. The increased competition, will require conventional employers to offer better working conditions, hours, benefits and pay, in order to keep employees who could just as easily start their own business if they chose. Furthermore, one wishing to start a business from home, who is otherwise employed will now have the option of doing it in as small and incremental steps as they like. The point is that having more options available to more people will allow people to maximize the ratio of work to free time that most benefits them.
The proposal also has the benefit of lowering some of the cost of the things we buy, while cutting out the embedded rents that go to various gatekeepers and middlemen. For example, if dental hygienists could set up barber shop style teeth cleaning shops, it would greatly reduce the need to visit the often over priced dentists (and more of the money that is paid, would go to the hygienists, who admittedly does most of the work, most of the time, anyway). If I am concerned about problems with my teeth, I would still have the option of going to the dentist, but having the option of getting my teeth, professionally cleaned for a fraction of the current cost of that service would still benefit everyone involved.
Of course there is the objection that having ones suburban neighbors starting coffee shops, grocery stores and tobacconist stalls in their homes or yards will increase foot traffic, and lower property values, but I have to ask how bad of a thing this really is especially for those of us interested in eliminating work. For one thing, a great deal of time and money is wasted because existing zoning regimes create populations that live miles from where they shop or work. Having both of these within a block or two of one’s home can make a huge difference.
Furthermore, is it really a good thing, that we artificially keep property values high, anyway? True, this benefits those of us with a great deal of money invested in real estate, but it hurts those of us who are forced to rent or go homeless as a result of the price of land being so high. Additionally quite a few of history’s big financial collapses happened because of over investment in artificially expensive real estate. Maybe it is time we stop tying so much money up in this otherwise plentiful (not to mention volatile) commodity. I suspect that if we gradually (and I emphasize gradually) allow the price of real estate to fall as close as it can to negligible, it would at the very least have some positive results. For one, more people could own their own homes, making them less dependent on landlords (and the conventional employment needed to pay them). This is not to mention that if the price of owning a home falls so does the price of renting one, which would greatly reduce the problem of homelessness (especially if we started allowing people to build homes out of whatever material they can cheaply acquire).
To summarize and explicitly tie this message to the overall theme of this site, giving people more freedom to use the resources they already have at their disposal, as they see fit, will allow more people to reduce their need for conventional employment, reduce the workload of conventionally employed people by giving them more bargaining power, allow people to set more of their own hours, and potentially free themselves from some of the worst parts of modern work life, such as the whims of their bosses. While doing this may not in and of itself abolish work, it begins the process by giving people control of their own destiny, potentially undermining some of the worst aspects of the need to work. As I have stated in previous posts, I believe we should fully utilize our ability to automate and mechanize the need to work out of existence, but in the mean time, freeing people to control their work lives a little more is a step in the right direction.