Nick’s Notes: You can find this article here. As for when part two will be up that is entirely in the hands of Charles W. Johnson (AKA Rad Geek) who helps run the fair-use.org site.
The least treated problem of libertarian action in a statist context is that of institutional employment. More often than not one will find a libertarian as an employee of a large technologically oriented corporation whose every action is regulated by the State and whose product is subsumed by the bureaucrats to initiate force, either domestic or foreign. As an employee of such an institution his address, income, and many additional personal facts including medical history are open at all times to inspection by State agents. While espousing the virtues of free market activity and control of life and its derivatives, he will sell his services to the corporation in an incomplete and imprecise manner. That manner is the manner of being employed rather than subcontracting services or owning a business in the same type of endeavor. The problem of institutional employment is crucial, for it affects the libertarian in a statist context far more than a libertarian in a non-statist context. And our society is becomming increasingly statist.
Formost, TIME is the most fundamental means possessed by every human being. It relates to each human action, is scarce, and under present technology, irreversible. The libertarian should design his life in such a manner as to be able to allocate this means in a very flexible manner, as important ends may appear suddenly. Yet working for a corporation is conceding control of this fundamental means to others. When employed in a corporate instution below upper level executive status, your hours, days, and weeks are determined rigidly. There is no working twelve hours two days and resting the subsequent third; similarly there is no working six hours for seven days. There is no working hard for three weeks and taking leisure the fourth. There is no time-allowance for diligent work, for efficacious work, for successful work. Eight thirty to five, 49 wekes per year, five days per week.
For a libertarian in a statist context this precludes the leisure necessary to find a retreat in Oregon or British Columbia, to prepare the equipment, to design the defenses, to search the vendors. It means a lack of leisure to visit Murray Rothbard, or Karl Hess, or your best friend libertarian in a nearby city. Evening activity is regulated due to the precise and inflexible working hours. One cannot stay up late and work 11am to 8pm the next day. Institutional employment will not allow it. Importantly for a libertarian, opportunities to visit a possible retreat sight at the spur of the moment invitation from another libertarian cannot be taken. A libertarian friend in town must be ignored most of his visit while you are at work. Research projects requiring intense concentration cannot be properly pursued. Libertarians should comprehend the urgent necessity of finding an alternative to this behavior.
Institutional employment is incompatible with those concepts of human nature and praxeological behavior that most libertarians would claim as their reasons for holding the philosophy. Salary levels for employees are well-determined, while subcontracting fees and risk income is not. The concatenation between income and marginal product is tenuous, indirect, and sometimes inverted, while subcontracting and business ownership creates a function much closer to ismorphism between income and product. Thus institutional employment discourages outstanding effort and rewards mediocre effort, although in a far lesser degree than the income tax. Initiative atrophies, excellence is abated. These are qualities libertarians fighting or avoiding the public looters can ill afford. Yet few would seriously claim that it is easy to perform with mediocrity in the daytime then with excellence at night. The frame of mind carries over, as the frustration neurosis and dissatisfactions. That remuneration is below what it would be otherwise goes without question. Libertarians need financial resources not only for present consumption, but for investment add savings in a much higher ratio than those content with the state of the State. Money is needed to buy gold in Switzerland, land in Canada, weapons, extra tools, vehicles stashes of various types.
Further, employment by its very nature is more permanent than subcontracting. An employee is chosen obviously for reasons additional to competence — e.g. loyalty, fidelity, servility. If this were not so the corporate planners would choose subcontractors. That they do choose employees is indicative of the archaic thought that even those supposedly interested in profit maximization base their actions upon. Employment is more permanent because the qualities mentioned indicate long periods with the same employer, while subcontracting indicates the contrary. Thus if one changes jobs frequently, each succeeding personnel manager will be less likely to hier. A libertarian engaging in Institutional employment is therefore ceding part of his life, part of his freedom, and reducing his ability to adjust rapidly changing conditions.
Importantly, an employee usually works day after day, year after year, in close contact with people having no common values. A close relationship and extreme familiarity is forced upon people who might not have ever had a beer together if they met elsewhere. Familiarity with people without similar values will cause defences to be constructed. A mild form of schizophrenia will inevitably develop perhaps more serious than mild if the person is a libertarian, and is forced to sublimate his very important values for a major portion of his day, his week, his lifetime. This illness, in my experience, is common among libertarians. The defences create fantasies that cannot be easily separated from reality after a time. Major internal conflicts arise. The wider the gap between the values of the
office and one’s personal values, the more serious these illnesses will become. And libertarians of the consistent pro-voluntarism type will suffer the most, their philosophy being most contradictory to the prevailing Zeitgeist.
By subcontracting whatever service is your field of competence, a choice of business relations is possible. The duration and magnitude of relations with those buying your services and cooperating with your services for the contracting party can be easily regulated by choice of customers and extent of services sold to customers. Additionally as an independent businessman you are less pressured to display a brotherhood towards others involved in the endeavor. Distance can be more easily kept. Furthermore, as an employee of a corporation you will be more subject to politics than as a subcontractor. Deliniationof authority and precision of responsibility decreases as size of department and section increase. Group efforts blur calculation of individual product. Thus as market rating decreases, subjective judgement increases; thus the boss must be pleased, esprit d’corps incessantly displayed, ass kissed. Subcontracting efforts are inherently designed to maximize market determination of worth. That is the reason for subcontracting. Control of territory is diluted by employment, strenghtened by contract.
Pragmatic considerations also argue for cessation of Institutional employment. The W-2 form prevents hiding of income from public looters. Every cent is recorded and documented. Subcontractors have greater leeway by orders of magnitude in expense write-offs, hidden income, phonied expenses, unrecorded sales, even barter exchange. Thus the percentage of income stolen by public thieves is much higher for an employee than a subcontractor. Activity is less public, personal facts are less subject to inspection. Pragmatic considerations alone should induce a libertarian to consider and plan a conversion of life-habits from institutional employment to independent selling of goods and services. This column in the next several issues will offer concrete proposals for doing so. The first such proposal is the Commodities market, which will appear in the next issue of the Libertarian Connection.