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Every man an investor

By Owen Paine on Monday March 23, 2009 04:38 PM

Old monster Luce's flagship has a beaut of a piece:

Jobs Are The New Assets

"Remember when jobs weren't worth your small talk? Think back a year or two.... You talked about your house. A new deck! You talked about your portfolio. Gotta go small cap. Did you mention how much pleasure you derived from bringing home a steady paycheck? Probably not.... Land was valuable, and capital was valuable, and labor — who cared?"

My shitty job stinks, but my house is worth a fortune. Them's premium Reagan-era lyrics, eh?

Now here at the dawn of die Obamazeit with our cratered 401K/IRA "portfolio" and our house treading the waterline, our shitass jobs are all we got -- again. Its like 1946 all over -- err, only different; we ain't got no CIO.

Let's take the Wayback to the beginning, the time before Reagan time, to the cold war, the one Harry stared and Nixon won by going to visit his co-victor Chairman Mao.

The kulacking of America's blue-ribbon wage earners began with the great migration out of the urban apartment and onto the family house lot in Sprawlville. Okay, so you're still William Bendix, Brookyn wage smurf, but now you got a front lawn and a back yard of your own.

Beats hell out of stickball, rooftop picnics, and the iceman shtupping the wife, eh?

Here's the gimmick turned miracle: by 2006 those house lots -- now owned by Homer Simpson, not Chester A. Riley, are worth megabucks -- or thereabouts. Like a magic tree growing over the years in the back yard, suddenly the fucker's yielding golden apples. The credit line running off that lot's appreciation in value by '06 is getting Homer a 9% "lifestyle raise". Life is sweet!

...That is, until yesterday when the great lot pop exploded. Oh well, I still got my 401K -- except it's now more like a 201K.

Looks like it's back to being just that good old peculiar commodity again. Welcome back, 1946!

It gets me to ruminating. Back then, America's white wage smurfs took a path away from the CIO class model toward the BYOB model -- that is -- the Build Your Own Business model, though the phrase has to be understood in a perverse sense. It means build some other offsite bunch of ass holes' business, by cultivating your inner professional, that guy or gal you make yourself over into, by acquiring skills and, better yet, credentials. That's your business, and it don't matter if you're counter help or a wily commission sales harpooneer.

Your business is best done inside a bigger limited-liability outfit -- BYOB don't mean Be Your Own Boss. Just upgrade yerself, pard.

My grad school idol, Gary "The Pecker" Becker, shown above, turned this caper, this investing in ourselves, this building a deck onto ourselves rather than our house, into a career, and gave it a name -- "building our human capital." In fact he got a Swedish dunce-cap award for his "modeling" of it.

So there you are, all you have-hopers: what'll you be? A commodity or a capital? A "professional" or an honorary wetback?

It's America. You're free to choose, hombre.

Comments (12)


Very astute, OP! And well-illustrated, too. All those BYOB careers (lawyers, professors, intestment "advisors", interior decorators -- yeah, my wife!) depended on the rising tide of middle class wage earners. Now who will need them? One thing we don't need anymore is an estate planner -- we don't have any estates left to plan.

Matt Hardwick:

Its like 1946 all over -- err, only different; we ain't got no CIO.

What -- Change To Win don't count?
(/attempt at humor)


noting the recent grifters brawl
going on inside unite here
with Andy's purple gang
playing third man in..

change to win seems to be
too much change
and too little win
or is it

too little change and too much wind


"All those BYOB careers (lawyers, professors, intestment "advisors", interior decorators...)"


i'm focused on the pocus mocus schmocus here
other then ID your above list is
the true credentialcrats
not the up skilled crowd

could you hang up a shingle of your own and be viable
in the best of all possible marketplaces

most skills are predicated on corporate hire to thrive

real byob is a different story
really indy really not a corporate
goose caboose
but a real live
great american start up
hi tech lo tech
no tech all tech
ahh there's the pipe dream
10 million new micro-ventures
pay by stock option only
sweat and talent rules
equity co op
start up....????

why that's the dream within the dream

enter my sba loan unit sen

see it
spewing small potato biz wiz credit lines
from here to the new jerusalem


but where's the new cio in all this
pipe dreamin' brother paine ???

10 million start ups still leave
80 million wage smurfs
bob-ing about in the high market waves
like a sadistic kids
bath tub duckies

Son of Uncle Sam:

If I had to pick, it'd be honorary wet back. Just to repulse the high and mighty, clutching on to those left over X-mas gift cards. Oh go ahead, complain all you want to the Applebees manager...even bus boys eat for free! When your daughters rebel and bunk at Fort Awesome, well,... use your imaginations....
Grad school Gary the Pecker got an award from sweden huh...? Congadulate him w/ some gift cards... Building our Human Capital, does that imply excepting the Good Life is out of reach...or killing the worthless?


i thought it would be SAG-like (cuz "the life" is a show) trade guild thingies like media alliance -- and it used to be a back door to portable health care -- but the amount of job mobility and the "as my own boss, i think i have to beat myself to death if i try to organize" of it all -- coupled with e-offsourcing -- dunno


s .o .s
so u're into capital punishment eh ???


hapa long my friend
what in fuck hollow iz u sayin'
but that will hardly stop me...

right now
creative class autonomy = no dental plan
vote in
universal decay prevention

point two:

get bohos to self organize ???

i'd rather organize a gator farm

Son of Uncle Sam:

Well,.....whats the difference? The loan on suburban life can feel alot like death row. Questions haunt; I shoulda done this that and my sisters friend but time passes by as weeks become the months become the years.
Hapa like Happas- just organize em'!
Wise words I've read,"Fuck em' if they can't take a joke." Live for you man!! Greek power Sparticus!


by increasing the plurality of commonwealths so as to achieve critical mass for pluralissimistic components by long-term exposure to the possibility that benefits need not accrue from wearing a plastic smile, one gains an after-fact reason for herding pampered domestic cats.


OP: Maybe off topic -- could you read this article by Paul Craig Robert and tell me what's wrong with his argument?

(answer on any thread.)

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