The Ideas Lab: the Independent Worker/Citizen…

I won’t be backing this post up with links and relative documentation but I will say that such items are in abundance on the subject. This post will in fact be based mostly in my own opinion and experiences in life and study. All in all I think it may very well represent one of the most important ideas for an issue facing the USA.

The Independent Worker/Citizen

The global economy is growing,evolving and simply changing on a near daily basis. The result of this oversimplified truth is that the folks on Main Street experience an onslaught of news and real life dust ups centered on the economy. More importantly they live through impacts both positive and negative on their personal economies.

snowballhellWhether its salary, job security (to include even having one), healthcare or other ala carte benefits the American worker is being ripped on pretty good. The reason for this in my opinion is that the 20th century model we use is out of touch and is under direct assault from the new millennium model that the economic evolution of mankind demands. I don’t think we can go back to the old.

The Republicans think you can just wish or will it to be so and the Democrats think you can recapture it and protect it with regulation. This simply is absolutely untrue and unattainable. What we need to do is to recognize and accept the issue and address it with fresh thinking,new ideas.

No matter how big a company you work for the truth is the current system views you as worker and a citizen but never both. Ultimately you are only cared about as a worker to the degree the model believes what it does about human resources. This is the fatal flaw the entire system has as a foundation. Since the worker,the citizen is kind of alone shouldn’t we create some security around this independence?

The Ideas

Most of these ideas have had real world tryouts and are used in small percentages throughout the world. The following ideas would benefit from forward-looking legislative support. All of these ideas ultimately recognize and support the employee as an individual.

Portable Pension Plans

We have the technology,we can build it… O.K. seriously though one of the biggest employment disparities in America today is based in the retirement zone. The mess that is attached to changing jobs is easily addressed by the time-tested Portable Pension Plan. The genesis of these plans actually occurred as most companies shed traditional pension plans. The wave of 401k and 403b plans that answered that call were really just a stop-gap measure though. People still change jobs and shouldn’t lose vesting privileges and other benefits gained by looking out for themselves. They also shouldn’t face the IRS vultures as they try to navigate savings to new investment vehicles. I get the whole group dynamic of investment plans especially in the mutual fund arena. Still it is but an electronic account that can be maintained easily. This includes having a new employer sending funds into it.

Portable Personal Health Insurance

In my world this isn’t to be confused with the health care debate the country is and needs to continue having. Still no matter how one pays for the care they get the method needs to be detached from the employer. Basically this idea encompasses a number of things that need to happen. Call them sub-ideas if you like. Especially in light of the post ACA exchanges implementations there really is no reason for health care plans to be attached to employers. Employers,especially those lying shit bag “self insured” wads (yeah I work for one of those) should be required to disclose an amount of money they offer for health care. Technically they do all ready in compliance with ACA. It can be found on your W2. In the case of the self insured companies the number is a lie. That amount should then be assigned to the plan of the employees choosing and the employee would be required to pay the difference.(in my case 15k which I’ve researched would allow me superior coverage off the MA exchange) Cadillac Tax b.s. needs to be removed from existing law as I am sure other legislation needs tweaking on this one but it is important. The bottom line is the employee,the citizen needs health insurance and both the employer and economy benefits from folks having it. Since single payer isn’t going to happen anytime soon on the USA this is the best solution.

FTE Job Sharing

In many sectors employees for good or bad are looked upon as FTE’s (Full Time Equivalents) as opposed to,well,PEOPLE! This reality shouldn’t be shunned or ignored,it should be accepted and quite frankly exploited to the benefit of all. I don’t want the USA plunged into under employed darkness but I do recognize that people often enjoy or require a level of flexibility in their employment status. It can’t be stressed enough that logically the employer needs the spot filled 40+ hours/week. In a world that offers the benefits of personally held benefits the concept of job sharing enjoys a wider range of use. I personally would require this particular idea to be used strictly on a voluntary basis and obviously accept requirements of equal skill and capabilities amongst the sharers. That said I think this is an idea that just hasn’t been given the exposure and support it deserves.

Minimum PTO

People shouldn’t be forced to choose between working sick (unsafely and ineffectively too) and a days pay. I get how this one is a burden on many employers and is easily viewed as a “job killer” but enough is enough. I don’t care what your job is illness and injury happens and you shouldn’t be disenfranchised for this fact. I also think time off needs a paradigm shift across all sectors in the USA. The professional classes have a head start on this since long ago they ended the categorizing of time off. America doesn’t need the labels of sick time,vacation time,floating holiday and personal day. It’s all PTO,Paid Time Off and basically there needs to be a regulated minimum.

Sliding Minimum Wage

The concept of the minimum wage is a perfect example of how in 2015 we’re still thinking like it was 1938! How we think about the minimum wage is one of the reasons the debates on the subject are so ludicrous. The whole thought process is out of touch with the times we live in and basically reality.

The legislative act of establishing minimums isn’t necessarily a bad thing since the market alone isn’t historically the utopia some folks like to think it is. Still respecting some market principles might be a great idea. Therefore I think a sliding minimum wage might be an idea worth looking at. I will be upfront that this could very well roll out as a bureaucratic nightmare but potential negatives shouldn’t squash discussion of ideas,ever! I think geographic and industry variables should be considered when establishing minimums I actually think in the short and mid-term a sliding minimum wage could encourage job creation and employee advancement. I think it also allows for geographic considerations relative to a “living wage” to be better addressed. I’d like to use one class of persons that may be found in a minimum wage jog to illustrate my point. Take a retiree. If the person is in NYC or Horton KS it is easily appreciable that there are differences in each ones cost of living. So although one would hope the income is purely supplemental a variance in the set minimum is logical even if they both are doing the same job.

Earned PTO

I don’t like labels and I fully support workers earning everything they get. Found almost exclusively in the professional sectors Earned Paid Time Off is an idea whose time has come. Once and for all let’s please ditch the 20th century model of stringent categorized employment benefits. Members of the US military earn their time off. It really is that simple of a concept and when applied to the civilian job force it also encompasses sick time. You earn X number of hours per year and you can call it whatever you want when you cash it in. It isn’t the employers right to know. It is the employees responsibility to manage their time properly.