Lost amid the clamor over health care reform

I had just posted here yesterday about the subject of entrepreneurship and media when I came across this piece from the Talent Zoo career site urging media professionals to rethink the future of their work in a radically different way:

“Do I think that jobs are obsolete? Hardly. There’ll always be a need for steady, daily people. Those who are familiar with the work, the clients, etc. But I’m not sure there will be a need for the huge number of them. Freelancing was considered risky. Now, it might be that a job is risky. If you lose that job, your income is zero. But if you have a few clients and you lose one, well, you’re not running on empty.”

Bingo. This scenario is quickly becoming for many of us the reality of our careers, and not merely an idyllic work-at-home setup after fleeing cubicle life. (The Web Worker Daily site last week wrapped up a very useful series of posts entitled “The Future of Work” that I highly recommend.)

As I mentioned yesterday, starting businesses, or joining small enterprises, is a better bet for some to line up steady income than sending out job applications to the anonymous black holes of job sites and hoping for a reply, much less the longshot of getting an interview. I’ve not done this often, but it’s been enough to convince me not to fritter away more time doing it.

So many middle-class, middle-age, mid-career professionals are facing these prospects, yet they are usually presented in a standalone context by the media because, well, we are pretty much on our own. Many are eager to take the risk of helping restore the economy and create dynamic, future-oriented careers for ourselves and others we may potentially employ.

This economic recession should have made it clear that there is a drastic need for encouraging and nurturing a new entrepreneurial class. Large corporations that have shed workers by the thousands aren’t going to re-create jobs in those numbers. Their business models are rapidly spinning downward. What’s more, there are many office worker bees who want to energize themselves, spark their creativity and rediscover their passions in new ways.

Unfortunately, we have political leaders who, being bought and paid for by corporate oligarchs, are making a farce of the need to eradicate one of the biggest obstacles facing the self-employed and small business owners. Until we move away from a health care system that is tied to employer-sponsored insurance plans, no such entrepreneurial renaissance will take place.

I’m not trying to make a political statement because I have doubts that current reform proposals will improve and simplify the present “system.” But I’m incensed that a marvelous opportunity to make it easier for workers to light out on their own is being squandered, perhaps for my generation and beyond. This is not a luxury but an economic necessity being obliterated by the ugly spectacle of rowdy town hall meetings and the hideous dialectic highlight loop on cable “news.”

As elected officials cower from the shrieking about “death panels,” freelancers are increasingly facing this reality. It is a continuing disgrace.


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