Sunday 27th May 2012
SELF-employed people like to tell everyone how hard they work. We wallow in the martyrdom of the 70-hour week, claiming never to take days off through illness, and expecting others’ sympathy – or seeking their admiration perhaps? – for being our own secretaries and book-keepers.
Nevertheless, we are advocates of that great maxim: a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. Thankfully, common decency still underpins the ethos of most of the nation’s small businesses, sole traders, and freelance practitioners… though I am still struggling to find a local electrician prepared to come out and do two ten-minute jobs in my bathroom.
It’s been a week of early mornings and late finishes: five tough gigs, three demanding a lot of leg-work in hot temperatures; several long bus journeys; an average of three hours a day at the desk too.
I’m not complaining. The work has been hugely enjoyable and I’ll be paid £1,851.60 this month, gross, which is well above what I usually make.
Over the year, I ‘take home’ £7.23 an hour, which is fine by me. You can’t put a price on the freedoms and pleasures of working for oneself in a fascinating and fulfilling job. I will never be rich, but, in any case, would not want to be: too much responsibility and too much superficial satisfaction.
However, I do object to those who make loads of money doing nothing.
Much as I despise those who think the world owes them a living, I am not talking here about tax dodgers or benefit fraudsters. No, what I’m curious about is the business of buying and selling shares.
The stock market, it seems to me, is where rich people can acquire vast sums by sitting around drinking coffee… thus failing, miserably, any fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay test.
For what do these shareholders actually do, except make money by having money?
Meanwhile those who sweat to grow the coffee beans, transport the crop, or bring the cappuccino to the shareholders’ tables, are paid so poorly for their toil.
Fair shares? Huh. No such thing.