Roland Dürre
Thursday October 6th, 2016

Work and Retirement? Money!

Basically, I do not want to work or get retirement money. All I want is: earn that funny stuff!

Zeche Sterkade / Sterkade Colliery. This amateur photograph was taken by an apprentice coal mining engineer, Charles Sydney Smith, of Derby, England, on a visit circa 1910-1913.

Zeche Sterkade / Sterkade Colliery. This amateur photograph was taken by an apprentice coal mining engineer, Charles Sydney Smith, of Derby, England, on a visit circa 1910-1913.

Digitalisation.

Currently, I travel a lot in order to promote Digital Transformation. My role is both active and passive. This means that, once in a while, I talk about it and, but far more often, I listen to what other wise persons have to say about it.

Whenever I hear presentations and speeches on digitalisation or the coming change or its consequences, it strikes me how they always also talk a lot about “jobs”.

In particular, they talk about jobs that will soon no longer exist. It seems to me, however, that nobody seems to really and precisely know what is going to happen to these jobs.

Dark Future.

And they also say that the future will not at all look very bright for most people – especially if they live in developed societies. Perhaps – and that is not really a surprise – those are also the moments when they mention and even demand the unconditional basic income.

Whenever I hear the word job, I come up with “heretical ideas”. It is a central factor of my life that, basically, I never wanted to work. To be sure, exciting tasks have always fascinated me. After having worked as a baby sitter, private tutor, for a hauler, as a night parking attendant or for a cleaning service, my “job” when I was in my early twenties was “programming” – which has also always been my hobby.

Everybody talks about jobs and the unconditional basic income.

No, I did not want to work. And I also did not want a job. What I wanted was earn money. I wanted enough money to provide my family and myself with a nice standard of living. And I wanted it as easily as possible and without having to work too hard. And I also always wanted enough “leisure time” in order to do things that were important to me outside my “craft”, such as “family” and “life as such”.

So I asked myself what is the best method of earning money in this country. Legally, there are probably only two ways:

As an employee.

Either you are working for a firm – then you get a salary. You will have an employer and (at least) one disciplinary superior person – just take a look at the strange vocabulary. And, more often than not, you will then also be part of a rather strange social system.



Self-employed.

If you are not an employee, you have to do something that is billable. Then you will be self-employed and get the chance to be a little less dominated by the employer system – which in itself is already quite valuable.

So there are the categories “employee” (there used to be another category “labourer”) and “self-employed”. You can be self-employed either by working freelance or by founding an enterprise. Living totally by myself as a freelancer seemed (too) much of a risk, so I decided to look for a partner and found a company. .
Because the idea of being employed was really boring.

The legal status.

If you want to found an enterprise, you have to decide upon its legal status. One possible option is the civil law association. Among those are the ordinary partnership and those partnerships that lawyers, tax experts and counselling companies, etc., often establish. If I intended to found another firm, I would probably favour one of these.

Other options are the classic private limited company and its modern brothers (Europe private limited company, UG, …), the cooperative and the incorporated company. Mixed forms are not really relevant in this context.

Besides the employees and self-employed, there is a third group: that of public officers. However, I will not dwell on this group because a) they are the minority and b) they are a totally different group as far as the extremely high pensions are concerned.

So here is what you want to know about retirement money. The employees – supported by the employers – pay into the social insurance in order to later receive retirement money. The retirement money system is based on solidarity and, like all systems of this kind, it is rather ambivalent. Everybody thinks they pay too much and receive too little.

Retirement money.

Retirement money is often considered a bad deal because it seems to have a sub-optimal price-performance ratio. What is often forgotten is that, when disruptive events occur – as for instance WW-2 or the re-unification of Germany – the retirement money was often the only system that continued to provide the people with what they needed, regardless of the disruptive circumstances. It did not fail.

Besides, the poor price-performance ratio is not something that only the retirement money suffers from. It is also true for private measures you can take, such as saving money, life insurance or the ill-fated federal-private construct of the Riester pension. The strong instrument “company retirement money” of former times as a valuable supplement of the federal retirement money has by now turned into something of the past.

Social Insurance.

More and more people want to work freelance in order to avoid the high social insurance payments. The government and the retirement insurances do not like this at all – which is why the threshold is rather high. And in doing so, they make rules and laws (like the AUG) that put enormous pressure on the freelancers, sometimes even force them into illegality. Both the law and its treatment are full of contradictions and there is a lot of uncertainty. It is truly atrocious.

But then, there is also an absolutely efficient and legal method to avoid having to pay social insurance – even if it might seem absurd. All a freelancer has to do is find a few comrades in arms and found an incorporated company with all the individual persons becoming managers of the company. Then they will not only be exempt from social insurance, it will even be forbidden to them. Mind you, this is totally legal and probably invincible in to the current state of the art in jurisdiction. Basically, this is totally illogical for people who use their common sense.

Fewer and fewer high quality jobs.

The outlook given by many wise persons I listened to tells us that tasks that require a high degree of training will become fewer and fewer and that the “service proletariat” will grow considerably. Migration through the different education levels will become less and less likely. This means that in the future the highly qualified persons will come from the upper social classes more and more often. They are also typically those who stand to inherit. They will not need income and consequently can just work “because that is what they like” and invest time to do the nice things in life in order to really benefit later. Or perhaps not.

Working for free.

And more and more persons will seem highly qualified yet work for free. I mean people who do not take money for their work. And I am not talking all those who work in an honorary basis in clubs and our society. Neither do I mean the young persons who are exploited during what we call practical training.

What I mean are young and old people who do something for the future without having any kind of contract and without writing an invoice. I, too, am one of them. As I see it, I move a lot, trying to help people and enterprises on their way towards happiness and success.

But I am not doing it for the money. Instead, I do it because I hope and know that I will get a lot in return. And because I know for certain that all the contacts and knowledge I gain will one day bring me true money, which means that I will benefit financially, as well. For instance when I invest in a start-up and then can write a huge invoice for a true added value I created. And this is how work becomes an exciting and nice game.

I know a number of persons who do the same. They are often younger than me. They perform super for free. Because they know that, sooner or later, there will also be a financial reward. I also know young entrepreneurs who take the establishment of a start-up very seriously and want to promote this step with a huge amount of enthusiasm. Yet they could not care less where the money will come from – for instance because they have inherited enough money.

Not a bright future?

This is what I expect the future to be like: more and more poor persons who, by doing menial jobs, can barely manage to make ends meet and fewer and fewer persons who, with or without income, really enjoy what they are doing and get richer and richer. If I am perfectly honest, I must say that such a future gives rise to many questions and really worries me.

Here are some recipes for success:

These are the best ways to earn money:

  • Always give more than you get!
    and
  • Break patterns!

I will soon write another article, including a recommendation by Gebhard Borck how to best determine your own price (value). …

RMD

P.S.
If you are interested at all, I would suggest you read the Wikipedia articles on Industrialisation and Digitalisation.

The picture is also from Wikipedia. The copyright is with Aspdin – Own work by uploader (own original personal amateur photograph by ancestor). It shows the coal mine Sterkrade, the picture was taken around 1910–1913, free under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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