Monday, August 13, 2018

Productivity and the Part Time Life

Productivity needs to be quantified. Stress Drilon, mga besh. 

Sometime after that meeting announcing the very real effects of the lean years on our workload, our Soon To Be Boss approached Cube Mate and I about possible higher education outside. It turns out that in the meeting for Full Timers, it’s been agreed that CM and I should take on higher ed since we’re the only ones without it or not currently working on it. STB forwarded details about where to apply. 

So now we’re hustling to make it to the deadline. Which is two weeks from now. And even if it’s not that particular school, will probably be applying to others. 

It was around this time last year that I started to feel the pressure of not having anything to show for my time. Everyone’s favorite question: “What are you working on right now?” This is probably the most nerve wracking and anxiety inducing for creatives and those in academia. Particularly since last year, mostly everyone in the Office had something to show, and were very very productive. 

I’ve never been one to care about keeping it up with whomever, but when the institution you work for asks you to fill up multiple forms about how productive you’ve been in the last x years, and you have to skip whole charts, it’s like your entire reason for being has amounted to nothing. Nothing notable, nothing to contribute. So when the roster of Part Timers had a lot to show for their time last year, it hit me so hard that it landed me on a downward spiral that now requires me regular therapy and medication that eats up a huge chunk of my pithy and pitiful Part Time Pay. 

The Cube Mate also recently disclosed that the feeling of losing passion for what we do, that feeling of stagnation and not doing much also hit her—adding to that desire to get out, even for a while. Which is really odd, because Cube Mate does have something to show, but those “outputs” are not qualified for the forms of “productivity.” 

Also had a really long talk online with a Creative Acquiantance (we’re not that close, but we have a lot of mutuals, we talk about our frail mental health) who has been quite productive with really good projects, and yet has been feeling anxious and depressed. Someone asked her why she's been feeling shitty despite the really cool projects she's been a part of. “Working on cool projects does not guarantee happiness or peace of mind.” People kept giving her work because "mukhang kaya pa naman niya." (Looks like she could still handle it.) But in reality, it’s even made her feel worse. Productivity at the cost of poor mental health. Nope. 

The higher education race life: marathon or a sprint? I prefer walking, actually. 

I don’t know why but a lot of people in my line(s) of work have been feeling this crush, this burden of needing to produce something, even if said productions aren’t really paid that much.

I’ve learned my lesson, a very costly one at that. Even if now I’m trying to get stuff done, I’m conscious enough not to compare myself with how others are doing. When others ask what I’m working on, I’ll be appropriating this response from Financial Best Life:“I’m working on having the best life for myself.” Let them perform. Each one of us runs at a different “phase of production.” Trying to run and lose my breath to catch up with everyone is not worth the price of my peace of mind and sanity. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Lean Years are Here

Cows from Vox Europe. Salad Days are Coming.

It’s near the end of an academic year, and we recently had a Unit Meeting. There were a lot of announcements: people moving away to new opportunities, people coming in or getting promoted, a new boss, etc. These are big changes, but the thing that had a big effect was when the Second-In-Command gave his work load projections not just for the coming term or year but for the next few years. 

The SIC hands out the work assignments. He tries his best to give everyone their fair share, but this time, he said that there were a lot of things that are out of his reach. For one, the course that is usually shared with other units is now much more sought after—even departments who don’t usually want them now fight for them. “That’s how you know the lean years are here,” he said. Then he gave us this chart looking at enrollment and course demand spread over 3++ years. 

The effect of the K-12 transition in education is now going to be felt fully. Sure, we had these two years where a sizeable bulk of our workload was from Senior High. This first batch is now moving on to higher education, but there won’t be enough of them for the next few years. Which means that this coming year onwards, from a work load of 12 units, we are only expecting half, or 6 units. “That’s optimistic,” said one unit head. “Realistically, expect just 3 units.” 

Twelve units is enough for a decent, not lavish living. It’s half of a two-person household if you have a spouse and kid/s. For a single person, twelve units is decent enough—if you don’t Grab and go out for meals all the time. It’s why I decided I could let go of that other place of employment. Six units is pushing it—that would put us barely past minimum wage. I don’t pay rent, but I have bills. My transportation is relatively minimal. I guess I can work on a side hustle. (Whoever said that we could have a decent living for Php10k is nuts.) I know the Unit is trying to keep everyone employed, and that means spreading the work so that all of us could have work. We get paid by the hour. If we go from 12 hours to 3 hours, how will that even cover the basics like bills, transportation and food. 

Our unit is relatively large by comparison, since we handle a lot of Everyone-Is-Required courses. Lets say there’s ~25 Part Time People and ~9 Full Timers. Full Timers are expected to carry a full load, and they are the priority. What’s left will be what’s divided between the Part Timers. Even if you gave all the PTs just a course each, that still means 25 classes are required to keep the population intact. For this reason, we are being encouraged to apply for grants and other things. In the almost sure scenario that we won’t be getting a decent amount of work. That could be manageable for a year. But 3 years? How could we survive? 

Hoping for rain. But not the torrential Ondoy kind. 

Later that week, finally had some time to catch up with workmates. Something we rarely do now. But since all of us were there, we had dinner. Of course, the topic was the Lean Years. Just a couple of days before that, my cube mate and I were talking about Life Plans. Are we going for advanced degrees? What kind and where? Or are we going to explore Other Things not related to Education. 

Then this was announced. It seemed like all the signs are pointing to getting out of here. I don’t know yet what the next step will be. But it seems like there’s a high probability that a lot of us won’t be sticking around for long. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

5 Ways People are Dumb with Money

Found this interesting digital series from PBS called Two Cents, a series devoted to money matters for millennials and Gen Z. (I'm technically a Xennial or a Gen1 millennial, but who cares?) Anyway, Two Cents has this episode about how there’s this expectation that people would be rational about spending hard earned money. But the thing is, humans can’t quite remove their emotions in the decision making process of spending money. Economist Richard Thaler received the Nobel Prize for Economics for looking at all these totally fallible ways humans are about what should be a totally rational thing. In short, economics is not only about numbers, but about the very human ways decisions are made and how being a mistake prone human needs "nudges" in the right direction in order to modify behavior as well. In short, it's where Psychology and Economics meet. 

The good thing is that these money mistakes are predictable so we could actually avoid them. Here’s some of them: 

Endowment Effect 
The endowment effect is our tendency to assign bigger values to things we already own. Like if we dug up rare single edition Pokemon cards, and discovered that they go for $3k on E-bay, the rational thing to do would be to sell it. Until we decide to hold onto it. Then we see it being sold elsewhere for that amount and decide, eh, that’s just too expensive for a toy. 

There’s a Facebook page online for the place I work for. You could sell your stuff on it. For the longest time, a kid has posted the complete series of a certain manga. Most people would sell their stuff less than the original cover price, but this poster insists on maintaining the pristine, brand new price for a set of books that’s already several years old. It’s not that even rare. But one has to admit that the item is quite niche and only a few people would be interested in it. 

Sunk cost fallacy 
Like if you went to a movie that’s really bad and feel like walking out, but you stay so you can get your money’s worth. The episode also talks about membership clubs (think S&R or Landers) that charge an annual fee and you get perks in exchange. People will buy stuff they don’t need because they want to get their money’s worth. 

Sometimes I’m like this with lunch. My break is still within reasonable lunch hours, but usually all the good food would be gone, and only slim pickings remain. One time, all that was left was some stir fried okra (I don’t know what it’s called really) and then egg and cheese omelet. I felt so sad but also hungry, and only have a short break in between so I gotta eat. I ate the omelet, and I feel bad for wasting food (and money), but I just could’t bring myself to eat that okra and dumped it in the trash. Wala na, ayaw na, couldn’t finish na. Sunk cost na. 

Transaction Utility 
This amount of pleasure or pain that we get from feeling we paid less or more. In short: are we getting a bargain or a rip-off? It’s often totally disconnected from the happiness that you get from the thing itself. 

This is how malls sucker us with their never ending sales. You see that big red banner announcing “Sale! 70% off!” We buy it because it seems like there’s a markdown from the original sticker price. So we buy things, and more things that we don’t even need and all because we think we’re getting a discount. Instead, it might be more useful to see it as spending 70% more than 0 if you don’t buy that stuff unless you really need it. 

I like shopping End of Season sales. You do get a lot of bargains, lalo na for work clothes. But I make it a point to scout the things I want before the sales so that I know what the “regular” prices are. Then when the sales start and I still need it, or want something, I can check if it’s really going for a lower price. 

It’s also useful when you know the cycle of when these sales happen. Last year, my laptop broke down after 7 years. Sulit na. But I still waited for a sale and used my tablet in the meantime. When school was about to start, there’s an Education related sale. But the store was only giving out a 5% discount for the cash amount + freebies. The store has changed their cash sale policy na raw. The last time I bought a computer it was 10% for buying in cash.* I really needed the computer by then, and I still got a discount of 5%. Then two months later, my friend buys a computer. I’ve told her about the cash discount. Lo and behold the cash discount was back to 10%, and there was some freebies, too. You gotta believe I felt real bad because she paid much lower than I did. Oh well. Basta I hope the computer lasts just as long para sulit ang money. 

Mental Accounting
There’s also mental accounting, or separating money into imaginary categories in your mind. It’s useful when we think of it in terms of setting a budget. We invent categories like fun, free, expected or serious money. It violates the rule that money is “fungible,” i.e., totally interchangeable. A hundred pesos is still one hundred pesos however way you got it. Lets say you got Php1k on a raffle, should you use it to buy Php1k of shoes, eat out at a fancy place, go travel? But we shouldn’t think of it as free money. How would you spend the 1k if you worked for it? But most of us will just spend it, since we didn’t work for it anyway—it’s free! 

I know the episode listed 5 things, but for the life of me, I could only count 4. Or maybe I didn’t watch properly. But really, it was informational for me to see how mostly, it’s a battle between being rational about things or being emotional. Sometimes we know the right thing to do, but the heart still wins. Mahirap mag-abdicate ng emotion—specially if it has something to do with family. 

*When work mates noted my new laptop and asked how much it was, I didn’t say that I bought it in cash. Since I have always heard people (even our boss then) used credit cards and paid for the purchase in installments. Everyone was like, nobody has money for that. So I felt a bit ashamed and just said that the overtime check we recently got plus savings were what I used to buy the computer. But now I know better. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Full Time Trading

Rafael Roces, 24, full time stock trader

Entrepreneur has this interesting article about a young full time trader who spoke at Investagram's Inspire PH event. 

While most people envision traders and brokers as mostly middle aged men, Rafael Roces (known by his Investa handle scraffycoco) is 24, started trading while still in college in 2016.

He was studying to become a doctor, taking the NMAT and all, but he thought he could become a better trader rather than a doctor. In his first year of trading, he was down 40% using his father's money. So what he did was to study and establish a system. The eight week trading course at Caylum Institute costs Php100k, but like all sorts of learning, one needs to invest time, money and practice.  He's now also studying to become a licensed broker, and is now affiliated with a securities company. By December of last year, was managing a 7-digit portfolio. 

It's really inspiring to read about a young person learning about money and investments as early as being in college. He's also lucky that he has the opportunity to focus on deep learning. I suppose if one really is interested in being good at something, you put everything you have in it. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Rising Cost of Health Care

Mmmmmeds. Yami. (Excuse the naked duvet.) 

I haven't really blogged in a while, and mostly it's because I seem to have won the lottery of assorted health issues these last few months. 

The major one isn't covered by the health card my place of work is affiliated with. So it means I have to shell out for consultations and the meds I've been taking since February are on a rising scale. Basically my TRAIN money plans got funneled into medicine expenses so there goes that plan.  Will talk about this in another post, and will mainly talk about the health card for a bit since it's that time of the year that the contract with the health care provided is renewed. 

Since I'm a part timer, I have to pay for my own health card, but the institution gathers all these PTs and strikes a deal with the main provider to sort of have us ride on in their deal for employees and full timers. 

I joined the health care provider in 2016-2017, so this will be the third year. Here's the cost for the 3 years since: 

2016-2017: Php1,701.28/month (Maximum Benefit Limit: Php150k)
2017-2018: Php1,871.52/month
2018-2019: Php2,059.68/month 

I'm not sure if the Maximum Benefit Limit has risen or if it's still pegged at Php150k per year. I noticed that since I started, there's been a 10% mark up each time. 

To assure that part timers will pay for the whole year's medical costs, instead of a monthly deduction, the whole year's cost is deducted for six (6) successive pay checks. So you work for the entire term and pay for your health card that whole term. Which means that you get less money but hey, at least that's one less concern. 

In my first year of joining, I don't think I even used the card. Maybe went to the clinic a couple of times, but nothing major. 

This year though, I do feel that I needed the card, but my health concern wasn't covered. But this past month, I've gone for check ups almost weekly. 

I needed emergency dental work done in early June. Check up was covered. But the procedure I needed wasn't included. So pay for the professional fee and the materials needed. I was only too glad that the dentist could do something about it that same day. Otherwise, I couldn't have gone to work if I were missing some front teeth. Lesson here: folks, be careful when you bite into food. Otherwise, you'll be needing a new set of teeth. 

Then I had a weird ear infection that needed antibiotics, and then an ENT doctor who scared me that I might need to have an incision made. He said I would need to ready my PhilHealth stuff. "Ask the HR," he said. Which I haven't done. I prayed so hard that the antibiotics and the topical antibacterial would work because I really don't want to go to the hospital because of something on my ear. But really, since prescription meds aren't covered either, I had to fork over some serious coin. 

Am I glad that I have to use the health card? No. 
Am I glad I have the health card? Yes. 

All in all, it's like a series of unfortunate medical events. Hello and bye, emergency fund. But still, I am thankful that I had that stash and could do something about my situation. Otherwise, as they say, nganga. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Sinking in Credit Card Debt

Borrowed this from Good News Pilipinas

Last week, people started trickling back into the office to prepare for work. Term and summer breaks are a gray area for PTFs. On one hand, you get some sort of breathing space for a few days or a few weeks. Then that turns to panic because you earn nothing and only get paid a month or so after work starts. Since we hadn’t seen each other for nearly a month, there was some catching up to do. One of those colleagues with a story to share was Sir W. 

I’ve known Sir W for a while since he also teaches at CoRK. He said that from a high of 50 Part Timers a year or so ago, they were now down to 5, and he’s got a lower course load this current term. So Hunger Games ang peg, really. 

Sir W is usually up and about checking out the latest restaurants, theater plays and movies, picking up the newest books. He also takes an Uber (when it was still around) and Grab going to and from work. He says since he’s working two jobs, the least he could do for himself was not to hassle himself with the tortuous commute. Sometimes other colleagues and staff members who share the same route home would share the car with him, other times it would be some food to share with the office peeps. So really, a nice and generous guy.

I’ve always wondered how he could afford to do all that. We share basically the same rank and earning rates. Even during the time that we were both getting full loads of work at CoRK and our current office, and therefore ostensibly double the earning capacity, I never dared to take Uber every day. I reserved it for when I felt like I was going to be late—and CoRK was notorious for deducting “late rates” even if you were already in the building and just waiting for the elevators. If I ate out all the time like he did, I wouldn’t have anything left at the end of a pay period. 

Last week, Sir W opened up that he was having liquidity problems. He’s mentioned this before, like when he’s asking if I’m watching Lion King and he says he’s watching but maybe just him and not take the partner along because that would be twice the cost. Said partner has resigned from his job a few months back and is struggling with a small business that tends to have seasonal demand.

But this time it’s different. He has two credit cards and he’s carrying huge balances on both. It must be a serious amount—I’m thinking in the 6 digits—and it’s been building up over two years of making only minimum payments. He’s asked his brother if there’s a loan he could take so that he could cut one of the cards, throw the money at the balance and pay it at a different rate—sorry, I’m not as familiar with credit card terms. His mother had bailed him out of a similar problem before, so he can’t turn to her now, as that would mean he hadn’t learned his lesson. There’s an aunt he could possibly approach, but again, this would be difficult do since the family already knew about the previous bailout. They would say he’s never learned how to handle his finances. 

So there we were, thinking of ways to get out of the huge debt. He mentioned maybe putting up some of his books up for sale next week. Or if only there were other collectors of the knick knacks he’s accumulated over the years. When he checked the credit card bills, he’s realized that all those Ubers and Grabs and eating out were taking up a huge chunk of his expenses. He’s asked his partner to cough up some money—after all, the debt was used to finance their expenses and lifestyle. The partner was half-hearted in his commitment to co-pay—there’s a family he also needed to support, the fledgling business, etc. 

He’s over 40, working two jobs part-time, lives at home, and now has huge credit card debt. Again. Who would bail him out now?

We’re in the same pay grade, and he’s doing twice the work load I have, then there is money to pay the bills. In my mind, the solution is to live more simply. When he asked me if I wanted to have lunch, I suggested the low cost employee canteen. I sensed the hesitation. There’s no way I’m spending over Php200 in a lunch out, especially since we’re not being paid yet. And neither do I want to go to the more expensive canteen, where the viand and rice would cost you Php110 easy. I tapped another colleague to join us so that it would be 2 vs 1. I don’t think he was too happy about it.

He recognizes that he needs to take charge of his finances. He’s not quite open to ditching the cabs and lunches and dinners out. It’s a lifestyle that he’s used to, and I don’t see him giving it up so easily. But in times like these, desperate measures are needed. He didn’t learn the first time around, and now knows the problem is real, shouldn’t he be willing to make adjustments? 

Makes you think that Filipinos do really need to learn about financial literacy. An article in today’s Inquirer quotes a study by the World Bank that only 2% of Filipino adults can be considered financially literate. 

I’m glad I don’t have this kind of problem though. Over the years, banks have sent me pre-approved credit cards and I never used them. You just get kind of shocked that you receive it in the mail. Recently, another bank surprised me by having an entry for a credit card in my online banking  account. I called and said I didn’t apply for a credit card. It’s still there though. Although there’s some convenience to not carrying cash and building a credit history, I’m not sure I’m willing to carry the possibility of soul-crushing debt. Then again, who knows if holding a piece of plastic will make you a swipe-addict. If I change my mind, you’ll be the first to know.  

Monday, April 23, 2018

Work hours

In which industries do employees work the longest hours per week? by BusinessWorld

Business World has this infographic feature based on the  2017 Gender Statistics on Labor and Employment (GSLE) report released by Philippine Statistics Authority which showed the industries in which employees work the longest hours per week

The top 3 spots were Administrative and Support Services, Information and Communication and Transportation and Storage. I'm wondering if the first two implies BPO work, because people I know who work in these industries definitely work more than just 53 hours per week, and does not include the possibility that night/graveyard shifts. I can believe the long hours T&S which may include those driving public transport and those trailer trucks. My father used to drive buses going to the provinces, and we barely saw him, like once a month if we're lucky. 

Meanwhile, the last spots are occupied by Arts, Entertainment and Recreation, Fishing and Real Estate. Again, I'm wondering if AE&R include media production, which is classified as entertainment according to the BIR. People working in media (whether news or TV/movie productions) work far longer hours than 39 included in the survey, and most work on a per project basis. One is not assured of tenure. If lucky, one might get a contract renewable yearly, which features a "retainer's fee" that's more or less the equivalent of the minimum wage or an "allowance" for "brainstorming." Fishing and farming may be seasonal but definitely takes longer hours. 

Included in the bottom half is Education, which supposedly take "only" the traditional 40 hours per week. But it does not take into consideration that teachers and professors do course planning, class output checking, research, consultation with students, meetings and committee work, which together require you to put in more than the 40 hours stated here. If a teacher is tenured, then those hours are paid for by the institution one belongs to. 

Part timers are a different matter. PTs are only paid for classroom hours, or time spent inside the classroom actually teaching. But the real work is what needs to be done before you enter the classroom, and then the output that needs to be checked and graded. One is not paid for consultation hours, or the committee work or the meetings, etc. If one looks at most privately run Higher Education Institutions (HEI), the bulk of their faculty members (or Full Timers) are a mere 25% of the population, and yet whose rates are double those of PTs. The rest (a good 75%) are part timers who sometimes hop from one HEI to another just to make ends meet or make at least as much as the FTs. There is also the possibility that one school term one gets some teaching load or units and the next there's none. It's a precarious job. 

Sometimes it's difficult to look at these surveys, especially when you've worked in the industries mentioned and know the real hours involved aren't just those done at the desk or inside classrooms. 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Baon Blues

Hipster baon: Noodles in a jar! 

One of my bigger expense categories is food, especially food eaten while at work. Usually, wherever there are students, there would be cheap food. Sure, this would be loaded with carbs and fats, but would assure you of energy throughout the day. (Bacsilog with melted cheese topping, anyone?) However, just a few tries of these cheap meals convinced me that (1) my body is not young enough to process all that bad juju and (2) the calories will keep you young, as in deds agad. So, no. 

Now where I work, it’s always cheap eats. There are restaurants all around, but if you eat in one everyday, and most of the time, it’s not just lunch, sometimes dinner, usually merienda, and coffee,definitely. The go-to eating place has a stall that sells “healthy” food, and it would cost you Php165. So, no. 

There is an employee canteen, but usually the food there runs out or spoken for by 11AM. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to drop by and “save” your Ulam for lunch, good luck to you. You run to the other canteen where vegetables + rice will run you maybe Php55-70, and a meat viand + rice is Php90-115. Also not viable. 

The tipid alternative would be to bring your own lunch. The trouble is if your workday starts at 7:30AM, which means you have to be up and going by 5:30AM, and if it ends also at 7:30PM, which means you get home past 9AM. By then, you have almost no energy to cook, and you’ll be so tempted to just eat out before you crash on your bed at home. 

During this weird 12 hour working period, I almost always ended up eating out at least twice a day. When I tallied it, I was spending nearly 8k/month on food. If you’re single, that’s a big amount and all it takes is having regularly having sub-200 lunches and brewed coffee. 

It takes control to prepare your meals, but something necessary if you want to not spend all your paycheck on carbs and coffee. I don’t always succeed on this, but I do try most of the time—heck, even once a week—to bring food with me. I’ve also learned to check out the nearby grocery and sometimes stock on instant coffee (just coffee, not 3-in-1 because the sugar in those are deadly) and crackers and sometimes fruit and oatmeal for quick in between meals. 

Japanese lunches cost money. 

Sometimes, like when people at the office are excited to see actual people (we don’t always have the same work/lunch schedule), we do eat out. Usually this would be around the start of the term, or somewhere near the end just before finals. One time, we just went for coffee and pastries, and it cost me Php280. Or dinner from the Japanese takeout—Php350. Sometimes I don’t mind it especially if it’s just an occasional thing. It’s celebratory and builds camaraderie, so I’m down for that. But if you do it regularly, I don’t know if I’ll have anything else left over. So basically, everything in moderation. 

There's only a month or so left in the work cycle, and when the homestretch comes, sometimes you don't have the energy to meal prep anymore. But I resolve to do more meal preps in future workdays. So do wish me luck. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Diving in the gig economy

Cliff diver David Colturi for Hugo Boss

Philippine Star business writer Iris Gonzales writes about the country's freelance economy, or those who live and work on their own terms. 

It's nice not having to do a 9-to-5, dread Mondays, work in your pajamas, or get stuck in rush hour traffic. Or if you really lucked out and a day's work can net you a million. 

Not everything is rosy in the freelance world though. You do all the things that a normal HR office would do for you: take care of your own taxes, get your own healthcare, save for your own retirement. You have to hustle for your next project to make sure you have a more or less steady income flow. 

But that isn't so easy when there's tons of competition out there, made more cutthroat by  the phenomenon apparently known as  diving, or "bringing down rates below industry standards to get more gigs."

I once had an acquiantance link me with a potential client, who wanted a relatively easy write up.  I gave a quote for the work. But then a quarter of an hour later, my acquiantance calls me up. Turns out the client was also talking to other people. Someone else, a single mother, offered to do the job for half the rate I quoted, and with unli-revisions. 

My acquiantance was embarrassed and apologized. But really, there wasn't anything we could do. How can you compete with someone who gave a basement bargain rate with the matching pleading words, "Please, I'll do anything because of my child." 

I understand her situation, but it really harms everyone else working in the industry if you lowball your own fees. Gonzales puts it best: "If nobody accepts low rates, employers hiring freelancers will realize that they need to pay more. Trust me, they can afford your rate because they’ve already saved so much as they don’t need to pay for health and other benefits." 

An article from The Atlantic looked at gig economies around the world, including the Philippines. There's a bit where a contingent worker from the PH is proud of having gigs that allow her to spend on necessities for her family on her own. On the other hand, there is that consistent problem of competition that necessitates lowering your rates--from $8 to $3.50!--just to get gigs. 

Gone is the world of permanence and tenure and unions and job security. What we have now are part time gigs that turn us into "service providers" and "contractors." But hey, we're our own boss, right?