A couple of years back, I realised a few things.
I was running my own business and starting to struggle with the recession, working 24/7, making a reasonable income though staying well out of any high-tax brackets. I realised ‘I am too old for this shit’.
I realised that I was paying tax to people who hate me, and who used the money they took from the work I did to campaign against me.
I realised that my retirement plan to try to write a novel and get it properly published… I had already done that. Now I’ve done it twice. Still six and a bit years from retirement. What the Hell do I do now?
I realised that I had bought everything I ever wanted to buy and done everything I ever wanted to do. Then again, I always had small ambitions. I wanted my own oscilloscope (I have two), my own micrometer (I now have two, with the recent acquisition of an Imperial one to add to my metric one), I wanted to own a laser (lost count of those and can’t even remember where they all are). Yachts, planes, cars… no interest. Although I still would like to buy a rare Lamborghini or Bugatti, brush-paint it with Hammerite while utterly plastered and then leave it to someone in my will. Maybe I’d Araldite some furry dice to the rear view mirror too.
My one remaining real ambition is to be cremated while stuffed with whisky-soaked tobacco leaves, then have a pinch of my ashes blown in the faces of each of those I despise. So I can get right up their noses, one last time.
Most of all I realised that in the ‘game of life’, I had completed the last level. I had faced the final Big Boss and it was me. I was the head of the business.
Now I am a janitor in Local Shop on just above minimum wage. It pays the bills and not much more. I pay as little tax as possible to those who campaign tirelessly against me. Last year, they paid me. This year, they might again. The janitor job is on half the tax allowance because I am still also self-employed. I have to declare the risible income from books and a small retainer paid by one company. This will not exceed half the allowance so it’s possible I’ll be a negative taxpayer again this year. If not, I’ll be a very low taxpayer.
Some like to live in the fast lane. Me? I’m tootling along in the bus lane and enjoying the scenery. I’ve been in the fast lane and you know what? Screw that. Far too much bother. All that work to accumulate a pile of money that isn’t real anyway? Not for me.
Recently, the Secret Ninja Cleaning Company that services Local Shop cut the hours available to us for work. No big deal for me. It means more writing time and more model-making time – which is good because the job no longer completely covers the bills. I could make a living selling books and models but these are careers with a long lead-in time. You have to get ‘known’ first. That can take many years, especially in this age of easy and free self-publishing. While building that up, you need a job that pays the bills – and a job that pays the bills takes time out of your other activities. So it’s a slow transition. Not a bad thing, gives you time to build it up.
It could build up quicker if the Citizen’s Income was real. This is something Mark Wadsworth has mentioned often and the idea is that everyone gets a set amount each month which is just enough to live on. Everyone, whether a company director or a layabout who quaffs Red Stripe on a park bench while giving a throaty ‘Graaaah!’ to passers-by. Everyone gets this and if you want more, you work for it.
If you want to spend it all on booze and drugs and starve to death well that’s your choice. You have been given the means to survive, what you do with it is up to you.
It would wipe out all those layers of benefits and layers of administrators at a stroke. We would all get the basic amount needed to live on. Everyone. Including the now-unemployed army of middle managers in local government. Tax could be reduced, council tax could be nominal.
As it is, we have all kinds of morons in suits vying for power and expecting us to pay them to be pompous gits. One of them thinks that increasing minimum wage is a good idea.
It is not. I have experienced that level for over a year now and the response to increasing costs is… to cut hours. Minimum wage is an hourly rate. If they have to pay me more per hour they will call me in for fewer hours. Oh sure, I’ll be in there for fewer hours, but my take-home pay will be just the same.
I am not a typical case here. Making the same on fewer hours would be a good thing in my book. This is not true of other Secret Ninja Cleaners. The reduced hours do not mean reduced work and if it gets too bad I can say ‘Sod this’ and find another job. This is not an option for many of them. They will be forced into slaving themselves to death or just going back to benefits. The sensible ones will take the latter option.
Minimum wage is a stupid idea. Citizen’s Income is a good idea.
There was also the idea one country had of ‘retiring’. You could take yourself out of tge employment loop at any time by retiring and accepting a State pension. Much the same as a citizen’s income – those who had no intention of working could declare themselves retired and take monthly state pension payments.
Then sit on park benches quaffing Red Stripe while giving a throaty ‘Graaaah!’ to passers-by.
Life choices eh? We all have to make them, as long as there’s no twat in an office deciding to make them for us.