Sunday, June 07, 2009

Apparently, women who teach child yoga classes for a living are having a hard time making ends meet.

Surely the end times are upon us.

When Feuer started teaching yoga four and a half years ago, when she was 38, it seemed like the perfect entree to a life of free agency. Feuer spent most of her 30s working for her husband’s goth record label doing publicity and promotion. When they divorced in 2005, she wanted a job that gave her some of the same independence that he had. “I’d watched my husband go into business for himself, and I felt like I could do it, too,” she said.

Yoga gave her the same pure, elated feeling as dance, which she had done professionally in her 20s. She spent $4,000 on a 200-hour yoga training course — paid for with a home-equity loan — and then more to specialize in prenatal, mommy-baby and kids classes. Many of her prenatal students came back to thank her after giving birth. She could pick up classes from a half-dozen studios, gyms and schools, and she could arrange her schedule around the needs of her son, Sasha, who is almost 7. Since Feuer did not work full time for any employer, no one gave her health insurance or other benefits. But she earned between $35 and $65 a class, and students paid more for private sessions.

This part's just precious:

Feuer’s ex-husband pays one-third of her rent, and she had been counting on the money from the after-school classes to pay her share for July and August. “I don’t know how I will make it through the summer,” she said in an e-mail message. The bottom of the note read, “Sent from my iPhone.” The call of semidesperation via a high-tech status symbol is an emblem of the gap between the past and the present for many of urban America’s self-employed.

Wow. Looks like a reject from the Overwriters' Anonymous meeting. George Will, Call your office!

Freelancers still have the trappings of middle-class entrepreneurship. But the downturn is eating away at their livelihoods and the identity they thought they chose when they decided to work for themselves.

Most businesses fail. She is fortunate, in that she only has a few grand in capital investment in the business. I talked to several retail business owners this week who aren't sure how they'll make it through the summer, and each of them are sitting on inventory worth upwards of six figures.

Some, I think, will pull through, with a little luck, assuming their loans don't get called in a hurry. Others need to be put out of their misery before they destroy their owners' lives even more.

Speaking as a former freelance writer, I can relate, and I love folks who do this kind of independent work. But they aren't really entrepreneurs - which is why so few freelance writers can write articles that real entrepreneurs - the kind who understand capital investment, intrinsic value, leverage, asset protection, insurance, liability and exit plans can understand.

Oh, geez... of course! The writer is Emily Bazelon! A well-known liberal! No wonder she doesn't understand!

A freelance writer has a lot of freedom. But with just a few exceptions, they have jobs, not businesses. Your occupation pays you only so long as you work in it. Once you quit, you have nothing to show for it but a thick portfolio that no no one will pay you for. No exit value, no useable book to sell, no residual income, no way for a successor to pick up where you left off.

They create jobs, not businessess. So these are freelance workers, not really independent business owners. THey have some of the BENEFITS of owning one's own business - the freedom to control one's hours and working environment. And potentially they may gain some tax advantages (but at lower income levels, those aren't REALLY worth that much). But for all their efforts and freedoms, they aren't really creating anything of lasting value for themselves.

Every freelance writer, graphic designer, programmer, or artist should read a book called the E-Myth.

Chris Jagers notices the same confusion I did.

The instability of freelancing isn’t new. Lawrence Katz, a Harvard economist, points out that the share of workers who have standard full-time jobs with benefits has been shrinking since the 1980s. But in the past, temporary and on-call workers — everyone from data-entry employees to construction workers — were hit hardest by downturns.

Well, yes. As a freelance commercial writer with a strong financial industry specialty, I billed out significantly higher on an hourly basis or per-word basis than I did on staff. Why do you think people hire staff writers??? When work slows down, I was way more expensive than a staff writer, so I didn't get the call. Them's the breaks. And all the freedom I had to work at Starbucks or from a lawn chair at the beach (and yes, I did both!) comes with a trade-off.

You can always tell a libtard because their underlying assumption is that tradeoffs like this don't exist in a real economy - and so when the tradeoffs actually DO rear their ugly head, they get smacked in the face by the surprise, and then they write articles for the New York Times magazine describing the tradeoffs that are immediately and intuitively obvious to all right-thinking individuals from the very beginning, thinking they have some magnificent insight.

Meanwhile, everyone who's ever even THOUGHT seriously about making a payroll skips right past their drivel.

Meanwhile, unemployment insurance is still largely structured as it was when the system was instituted during the Depression. “Unemployment insurance was designed in 1935 to give temporary support to the classic male laid-off worker,” Katz says. “It’s not set up for the circumstances we see today, with a lot of people freelancing.”

Good God, Katz! Why on earth would it be? You COULDN'T set up such a system if you tried. The adverse selection would be off the charts! These independent contractors are SOLELY responsible for their own employment and their own business development. If it were possible to construct some kind of unemployment insurance for these people, the New York Freelancer's Union has the economy of scale to do it. Let them try. Jeebus. Will someone whack these libtards with a clue bat already!?

At the Freelancers Union, Sara Horowitz is pushing for a new kind of unemployment protection fund that would cover the self-employed by helping them put away money that they could draw on in times of need.

Brilliant. Let's make a name for it. I suggest we call it "savings."

You know, I have a theory - that any conservative needs to have 30 IQ points on a liberal in order to land an equivalent job. Take Megan McArdle, for instance. Megan's not perfect, and I've seen her screw up in print. But she's easily got 20 or 30 IQ points on 90 percent of the other blogger/journalists who write in her space - and has a much stronger background. But she's not a reflexive liberal. If she had the same views she has now, but wrote with the same sloppiness as the liberals there (and everywhere else)[*cough cough* SULLIVAN!!! *cough cough*], she would have been given her walking papers.

I see the same thing with journalism all over the place... Conservatives have to play major league level ball to get the same bylines and gigs as intellectually-slovenly liberals who have next to no experience outside of college.

If this 31 year old kid now responsible for GM were a conservative, he'd be grunting it out proofreading documents for a law firm in DC and fetching coffee for the partners. But he's a liberal, so he gets whisked up to the stratosphere.

But back to our regularly scheduled train wreck:

In April, Lisa Feuer sent me another message from her iPhone: “I’m at the food-stamp office now, waiting.” For months, she had been putting off this trip. Feuer’s grandparents were Jews who immigrated to the United States from Vienna in 1939. She grew up in a small town in Illinois, where her parents taught public school. She has an undergraduate degree, having majored in sociology as well as Russian and Eastern European studies, and a master’s in multimedia arts.

I think I'm beginning to see the problem!

Venkatesh is picking up this kind of unexpected neediness in his research. He has four welfare caseworkers around the city who keep track of the clients who come in to ask about public assistance. “I wanted to understand whether ‘nontraditional’ welfare clients started to file paperwork,” Venkatesh wrote in an e-mail message. “Nontraditional means white, for Manhattan.” In 2005, the caseworkers reported that 5 percent of those who came to their offices were white. This year, the percentage has jumped to 26 percent.

Now THAT is a fine statistic, and some fine reporting by Miss Bazelon! More like this, please! You'll make any editor proud.

Bottom line, though ... If you're on food stamps, and you live in New York, and you have a baby girl, and you're on track to make 15,000 this year, and last year, you only made 30% more than that... how on earth did you think you could afford an iPhone?

Ah. All your friends had one. It's part of the the independent contractors/creative workers' uniform.

Maybe I should send this woman a copy of the E-Myth, and a copy of The Millionaire Next Door. Or send them to Emily Bazelon.

I wonder if she'd read them?

I wonder if she's ready to understand them?

Splash, out


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"I wonder if she's ready to understand them?"


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