Friday, 5 February 2010

Put not thy trust in Princes....

Was reading this blog about another victim of New Labours policies, and it brought the following quotation to mind from Psalm 145 verse 3 of the King James version, which were the reported words of the Earl of Strafford upon hearing the sentence of death passed on him just prior to the English Civil War.

Rather like the aforementioned blogger, I too was a quite successful and well off IT contractor in the early 000's. I got sent to jobs, did what the customer asked and ensured it was working well before moving on to the next job. My clients seemed happy, and repeat business was often forthcoming; until, that is, late 2003. Work just evaporated. After that I found myself scratting around for jobs that I was over qualified for, or having to travel to the other end of the country to find work for what was basically silly money.

At first I thought it was simple ageism, but then a chance meeting with an ex recruitment consultant brought the answer; fast track visa's. Companies were ditching contractors for cheaper and more disposable overseas labour. At the time I heard a lot of parliamentary bleating about 'the skills shortage' to which Mrs S often heard my sarcastic retort; "If there's a fucking skills shortage then why ain't I getting hired?" Eventually I had to bite the bullet and took a job as one of the much maligned (And often rightly so) Local Authority Traffic Wardens / Parking Attendants. So Walking the Streets was born out of my daily (Often hourly) frustrations with Local Authority Management, most of my co-workers, and of course the General Dyslexic.

Unlike the aforementioned blogger, we were able to see which way the economic winds were blowing, and after hanging on tooth and nail to that awful bloody job until the kids were both at Uni, sold up in 2007 and made our great leap of faith across the Atlantic. I got offered a job, Mrs S got offered a job, and so we stayed, and I haven't been back to the UK since August 2007. Permanent Residency will (Having jumped through all the hoops), I hope, be not more than three months away, and with it permission to take on more paying work than I do at present. That done, we plan to apply for Canadian Citizenship and make the change irrevocable. The greater plan being to provide the kids with an alternative place of refuge if the UK does finally begin it's final spiral down the metaphorical plug 'ole.

If our friend should drop by this blog, might I say that this blog entry is not so much a criticism as a statement in the vein of 'there but for the grace of God go I'. A gesture of affirmed sympathy, in that I too have walked some of the same road as he. Had I asked politicians for help with the plight of myself and my business instead of taking the actions I did, perhaps we too would have suffered a similar fate. All I know is that it was a bloody close run thing, and some hard choices had to be made and followed through.

Any regrets over leaving the UK? Well, not really. What little family I have left are okay and surviving, but we're a clan of survivors. If they need my assistance or a place of refuge, Mrs S and I will provide for them. That is what a family is for. When the darkness falls and there is only you and yours, theirs are the hands you hang on to the longest. Yet in doing so, one has to fight one's own daily battles, focussing on keeping bellies full and house warm, doing whatever it takes to survive. Emphatically not trusting to those with dogma led agendas to show mercy on you, because when all is said and done; the only mercy you get in this world is that which you make for yourself.

Here endeth the lesson.


Anonymous said...

When you use the phrase "labor shortage" or "skills shortage" you're speaking in a sentence fragment. What you actually mean to say is: "There is a labor shortage at the salary level I'm willing to pay." That statement is the correct phrase; the complete sentence and the intellectually honest statement.

Some people speak about shortages as though they represent some absolute, readily identifiable lack of desirable services. Price is rarely accorded its proper importance in their discussion.

If you start raising wages and improving working conditions, and continue doing so, you'll solve your shortage and will have people lining up around the block to work for you even if you need to have huge piles of steaming manure hand-scooped on a blazing summer afternoon.

And if you think there's going to be a shortage caused by employees retiring out of the workforce: Guess again: With the majority of retirement accounts down about 50% or more, most people entering retirement age are working well into their sunset years. So, you won’t be getting a worker shortage anytime soon due to retirees exiting the workforce.

Some specialized jobs require training and/or certification, again, the solution is higher wages and improved benefits. People will self-fund their re-education so that they can enter the industry in a work-ready state. The attractive wages, working conditions and career prospects of technology during the 1980’s and 1990’s was a prime example of people’s willingness to self-fund their own career re-education.

There is never enough of any good or service to satisfy all wants or desires. A buyer, or employer, must give up something to get something. They must pay the market price and forego whatever else he could have for the same price. The forces of supply and demand determine these prices -- and the price of a skilled workman is no exception. The buyer can take it or leave it. However, those who choose to leave it (because of lack of funds or personal preference) must not cry shortage. The good is available at the market price. All goods and services are scarce, but scarcity and shortages are by no means synonymous. Scarcity is a regrettable and unavoidable fact.

Shortages are purely a function of price. The only way in which a shortage has existed, or ever will exist, is in cases where the "going price" has been held below the market-clearing price.

Bill Sticker said...

Well Mr Anonymous, I might point out that at the time I cut my rates down to the point of barely breaking even, and still found myself undercut. There wasn't a shortage of people in the IT business at all skill levels. Tell you the truth, my rates had been on a slight downward trend 2001-3. I was only one of many. Then came IR35, and a heap of other anti-independent contractor legislation.

New Labour fucked independent contractors royally, and they did it for nothing more than political gain. This article in the Telegraph looks like evidence of that particular smoking gun.

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