Being an independent today is not too viable an option, primarily because of corporate malfeasance, but also, indirectly, because the government in this country doesn’t support it.
For instance, most companies won’t hire an self-employed person because of the infamous IRS Twenty Question bias, which basically boils down companies forcing people who should be employees into being contractors so that you don’t have to pay benefits, but then the contractors don’t pay their tax and the government gets stiffed. The government invented the Twenty Questions to be able to go after the companies when this happens.
The side effect of this is that a lot of companies won’t touch independents, and you have to incorporate. Believe me, who has incorporated in not one but four states, that’s not a great option, either.
If you do get gigs, a new corporate ploy lately, called the Wal-Mart gambit is to basically not pay your contractors. You hold on to the money and you hold and you hold and you hold, because the longer you have it, the more interest you get. Smaller sub-contractors don’t have the resources to force a payment, and most don’t want to antagonize the bigger company. Years ago, there used to be a level of trust between businesses and their sub-contractors, but no longer. In today’s corporate world, all that matters is bottom line. Quarterly profits, and bonuses to chief executives.
Jeneane is facing this with a company, most likely a major, well known company, not paying her in a prompt manner. Of course, she’s independent now because she way laid off from her company, so she didn’t have years to accumulate the funds to tide her over through the ‘corporate asshole’ payment system.
To add fear to the uncertainty, though, she also found out her COBRA payments are being increased to $1300.00 for coverage for her, her husband, and her daughter. That’s 1300.00 a month. Not a lot of people in this country can pay $1300.00 a month for insurance. But not a lot of people can afford to take the risk not to have the insurance.
You see, it’s a catch 22 situation – the laws and the business climate in this country force people into becoming employees, at about the same time that companies are fudging their profits by using contractors, or offshorting their work. No matter which way you turn here, well, you’re fucked.
Of course, Congress, outside of some Democrats, care little about this, as demonstrated by passing the only major medical initiative the President would tolerate – a Medicare ‘reform’ bill that basically gives subsidies to HMOs for people that can afford to subscribe. Doesn’t help Jeneane though. Doesn’t help the millions in this country who don’t have insurance, or have to pay rates they can’t afford.
I, myself, just came home from the oral surgeon today with not good news, not good news at all, and I have some dental insurance. I go to the doctor this afternoon because my foot I injured earlier this year, when I didn’t have medical insurance to get it checked, has lost feeling in some of the toes, and one is starting to turn a not very good color and to look a bit odd. But at least I now have medical insurance. As long as I keep paying that $203.00 a month, I can afford to get sick.
Today comes the good news that the economy is just blistering, it’s doing so well. Now this could be that the economy is doing better, and this is good. Or it could be because companies are making a profit using their lessons learned from Wal-Mart; while unemployment is driven lower because less people are being counted because their unemployment insurance has run out.
Or there are people like Jeneane, who took a chance to go independent when she was laid off – only to feel her heart in her throat everytime the postal worker delivers the mail, because she has to pay a $1300.00 health insurance bill, and she can’t get paid for her work.