Week 16 in the year of our Lord 2021

Keeping the “wage-slavery” talk between the ditches

12 minutes to read

Division is a joy killer, but humility is a division killer.

Let’s talk wage slavery.

Michael and I have both been self-employed for over half of our working lives.

Michael has never had a year since he was 19 that he didn’t have some sort of side-hustle going on. And even now he has around five different sources of income. He has made over six figures of annual revenue with decent gross profit margins in four different verticals as a self-employed man:

  1. He worked as a consultant in the collections industry with a focus on hiring and training;
  2. He worked as a 1099’d professional card-counter (documented in a weird movie called Holy Rollers);
  3. He worked with a partner (and sometimes solo) in an internet marketing business that made money primarily off ad revenue, and selling ad-revenue-generating channels/platforms;
  4. He owned a company that sold collectible media via multi-channels, including online and brick and mortar.

My own focus has always been more consistent; I have specialized in direct-response web design and copywriting since I went freelance over a decade ago. My revenues have been a lot less consistent (what can I say, I’m a “creative”)—but always more than what I would have earned in a “normal” job.

Point being, we both have a fair amount of experience working for ourselves. We’ve both made it work well. We’ve both enjoyed it. So what we’re about to say isn’t some ignorant, envy-driven criticism. It is a measured response to seeing quite a few men apparently eager to drive into a ditch by making job a four-letter word, and labeling employment “wage slavery.”

Here’s the truth:

The majority of the men we know who have chosen to work for themselves would be more financially stable, and have a “freer” life now, if their early-life income came mostly from a company they didn’t own.

Look, the self-employed life can be great. We know. In fact, our book would not be coming out this year without the flexibility that self-employment offers.

But it also can be risky and relentless.

No one should hold it up as a gold standard for every man at every stage of life—as if working for someone else is inherently sub-masculine.

Working for someone else is only “wage slavery” if you fail to convert a portion of those wages into productive assets.

In other words, what matters is not primarily how you make your money, but what you do with it. Are you working towards self-sufficiency and self-sustainability? Many men are attracted to self-employment because it represents these things. But they don’t count the cost. They often discover that in the long run, it’s a net loss for them in terms of these goals. Day-to-day, sure, they work for themselves, rely on themselves, sustain themselves…but over time, they actually are not that good at doing it. So they aren’t building up and developing assets; they’re just treading water. They would be further ahead if they had sacrificed some self-reliance (and pride) in the short term, in exchange for more in the long term.

This raises an important principle: talking about “wage slavery” fails to account for the fact that every kind of job comes with some kind of constraints—and some commensurate freedoms.

Most regular employment restricts you from working whenever you want; you have to sign in and sign out at certain times so your time is not your own, and for many people, they’re living paycheck to paycheck, so losing that job would be a crisis. (Hence “wage slavery”.) But a good job like this can come with a lot of upsides too; for instance, Michael is working a regular job right now, because of which he doesn’t have to pay to drive around, he doesn’t have to pay for his computer and phone equipment, he doesn’t have to pay for medical insurance, etc etc.

Self-employment sacrifices many of these benefits in exchange for a freer schedule. Your time is (more) your own; but you are a slave to these other life requirements.

For some men, the exchange is worth it. It is for me, even though I haaaaate being responsible, for, e.g., accounting and client acquisition. But I am not going to pretend like self-employment comes with no restrictions on my freedom—because I know I have to do accounting and acquire clients.

In fact, while being self-employed has been of enormous benefit to me and my family in many ways, and has been integral to successfully working on It’s Good To Be A Man, I do think that if I had had the right opportunities in employment, it would have put me ahead of where I am now in terms of raw assets.

My ideal would be to work with a small group of men on a mutual mission that pays us all well. I did this for a while with a digital agency, but it imploded because I was working with non-Christians. My long-term goal is to do something like that again, because pure freelancing requires too many irons in too many fires for a man like me.

Which raises another issue.

Many men want to be captains when they are natural lieutenants. Many men want to be kings when they were made priests. Many men want to be Pharaohs when they were designed to be Josephs. Many men want to be Abrahams when God created them to be Eliezers.

Again, this is a case of pride about some perceived ideal of manhood—which blinds men from the actual gifts God gave them.

For instance, I am not built to be a captain. Michael is. That is why we work so well together. A good captain needs a good lieutenant to keep him grounded, to help him plan and vision-set, and especially to execute on a lot of the more administrative work of the mission.

A good lieutenant needs a good captain to forge the path that he cannot, solidify the mission he wants to lend his abilities to, and often especially to deal with the people that the lieutenant is not well equipped to manage.

Now, I use the terms captain and lieutenant because I think they’re fairly self-explanatory, but they do come with the connotation of rank and authority. That works in the context of employment, but not necessarily in the context of self-employment (i.e., not every freelancer is a natural captain; many are not, in fact), and not necessarily in the context of a shared mission either.

Not every captain/lieutenant relationship involves rank. Sometimes it just involves skillset. There’s a certain gifting that lieutenants have which is more ideas- and detail-oriented, and a certain skillset captains have which is more people- and big-picture-oriented. Michael and I, for instance, are partners; neither of us tells the other what to do, but we are on mission together, and each of us takes lead in the areas we’re gifted in.

Captains and lieutenants can both be good leaders. But a natural lieutenant won’t lead his house in the same way a captain will. Having some ideal in your head of how a leader “should” be, and thinking being a “real man” means being like that, is a recipe for men imploding or crashing.

No one looks down on Joseph for being a semi-autistic administrative genius. He knew the place God had made him to fill, and he filled it well.

Better to be a great lieutenant, and learn how to sometimes be a good acting captain, than to be a mediocre captain and constantly be micro-managing the lieutenant whose job you actually should be doing.

To tie this back to the idea of “wage slavery,” working for someone else is a good way for most men to mitigate the risk inherent in self-employment, and to protect their overall schedule to allow for the creation of other income sources.

It’s also a good way of learning how to run a business for yourself, so you’re better prepared to work for yourself if that’s what you want to do.

Companies can be a shield of protection which allow you to build with less risks and distractions. Not always. But they are out there.

We see a lot of young men get all Gary V’d up, and waste years chasing some weird utopian vision of self-employment. Beware. Know thyself.

New content this week: #

We have handed in the manuscript for It’s Good to Be a Man and are expecting editorial feedback as early as next week. Thank you to everyone who has supported us in various ways through this project. Please keep praying that God would bless it and use it mightily.

Here is the epilogue of the book, to whet your appetite:

Every book has to start somewhere. Every book has to include what it can. And then every book has to end somewhere too.

In writing this book, we were not trying to create a timeless work, but a timely one.

If you are an older man, especially one who married—for better or worse—before embracing your masculinity, you may be wondering, “What about me?”

The normal progression is to become a man, then a husband, and finally a father. But we don’t live in normal days, and so we know that many a husband and many a father is reading this and burning with unanswered questions.

A thousand things went through our minds as we were planning this book. A thousand more as we were writing it.

If we had covered everything we wanted to, everything that was worthy of inclusion, we would have written something so long that it would never have been completed, let alone published—and no one would have read it anyway.

We had to be firm in our goal, and disciplined in cutting anything that didn’t achieve it—no matter how important to the topic of manhood more generally.

Our goal has been to give every man a place to start.

Whether you are young or old, single, married, or divorced, wealthy or broke, driven or listless, starting out or starting again, you have to start somewhere—and that is with being a man.

So being a man is what this book is about. Not about being a husband. Not about being a father. Being a man.

Marriage and fatherhood follow from this, and we intend to write on them also. But the need of the day is for men to be men—for men to have at least a basic foundation on which to build Christian marriages and to raise up godly seed.

We hope this book has given you that foundation. It is only a place to start—but starting is everything. There is much more that we want you to know—and, indeed, much more that we ourselves still need to know—but you should now know enough.

Get out there and use it.

The kingdom of God consists not in words, but in power.

~Michael Foster & Bnonn Tennant

Notable: #

Former Pfizer VP: ‘Your government is lying to you in a way that could lead to your death’. Money quote:

But I remind you of what happened in Russia in the 20th Century, what happened in 1933 to 1945, what happened in, you know, Southeast Asia in some of the most awful times in the post-war era. And, what happened in China with Mao and so on.

We’ve only got to look back two or three generations. All around us there are people who are as bad as the people doing this. They’re all around us. So, I say to folks, the only thing that really marks this one out, is its scale.

But actually, this is probably less bloody, it’s less personal, isn’t it? The people who are steering this … it’s going to be much easier for them. They don’t have to shoot anyone in the face. They don’t have to beat someone to death with a baseball bat, or freeze them, starve them, make them work until they die. All of those things did happen two or three generations back and our grandparents or great grandparents were either victims of this, or they were actually members of it, or at least they witnessed it from overseas. That’s how close we are.

And all I’m saying is, some shifts like that are happening again, but now they are using molecular biology.

And the people going along with it, I think they would probably say, ‘I was only following orders,’ which we have heard before.

But I know, because I have talked to lots of people, and some of them have said ‘I don’t want to believe that you are right, so I’m going to just put it away because if it is true, I can’t handle it.’

Doug Wilson on women in combat roles, in light of a female policeman mistaking her firearm for her taser: The Question We’re Not Allowed to Ask

“Fascism is here. In Canada. Right now. This is insane.” (If you ever hear anyone answering questions like this woman does, they are a snake and cannot be trusted. Out of the heart, the mouth speaks: people with crooked hearts give crooked answers; people with upright hearts give straight answers.)

Talk again next week,

Bnonn & Michael

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