Guest Post: The Ten Best Employers To Work For

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

The insecurity of self-employment can generate a far more resilient life and mindset.

There are all sorts of "10 best companies to work for" lists, but I've assembled a slightly broader list: The Ten Best Employers To Work For. Without further ado, let's go to number 1:
1. Yourself
Surprised? Expecting Google or Zappos? The National Security Agency? Nope, not even close. It's you--yes, you, Bucko. You're the best employer to work for. OK, on to the rest of the list:
2.  Yourself
3.  Yourself
4.  Yourself
5.  Yourself
6.  Yourself
7.  Yourself
8.  Yourself
9.  Yourself
10. Yourself
Aren't you glad I didn't make this a "100 best employers" list?
Before you start nitpicking the list: yes, there is only one of you, so the list is somewhat repetitive.
And yes, there are some downsides to working for yourself. For example:
1. There's no point in leaving a snippy note on the fridge to the sneaky co-worker who stole your bagel: oops, you ate it during coffee break #3 without noticing. Dang, accepting responsibility sucks.
2. When you launch a full-blown rant against your psycho, control-freak, demanding boss, you're doing so in front of a mirror. Sigh--it's just no longer fun blaming the boss.
3. Excuses don't fly too far with clients and customers.
4. Nobody cares when you show up or how productive you are except you.
5. Shouting "Take this job and shove it" isn't quite as satisfying.
All those stupid regulations you chafed under: gone. All those impossible demands that stressed you out: gone. All those shiftless, incompetent co-workers: gone. Time cards: gone. Staff meetings: gone. People to blame for your troubles: gone. Paycheck: gone.
Do you really miss anything but the last item? But really, wasn't that paycheck the chain that bound you to serfdom?
Here's the dirty little secret of the U.S. economy: you're already working for yourself now unless you're in the Armed Forces or a civilian equivalent. The clock is ticking on all those promises of pensions and benefits for life you think separate you from the self-employed entrepreneur. Maybe the promises pay out for a few more years, maybe even a decade, but they are impermanent for the simple reason that the promises made (and the nation's debts) far exceed the economy's ability to pay those promises and debts in dollars retaining today's purchasing power.
Either the promises will be broken/defaulted, or a $2,000/month pension will buy a loaf of bread and a gallon of gasoline. There is no other end-state other than default or inflate-away-the-debt/promises.
You already know how "valued" you are by your corporate/agency employer. All that rah-rah "team-building" stuff is nice for the younger employees who are still naive enough to believe the propaganda at face value, but once the layoffs start again (if they ever stopped), then all that rah-rah cheerleading loses its sparkle.
Many employees are waking up to find themselves in 1099 nation: no benefits, no tax withholding, no matching 401K, no status as an employee, just a contract and a 1099 statement at year end.
In a sense being self-employed simply means stripping away the artifice that somebody else is going to take care of you or give you "free money." Once we understand the promised security is bogus, self-employment doesn't feel so risky--it feels like embracing the risk that is hidden behind the flimsy facade of team-building, "guaranteed" pensions and all the rest of the unpayable promises.
The self-employed person generally trades "security" for job satisfaction. The compensation may be higher or lower, but it will likely be lower. The earnings will likely be more sporadic and uncertain.
But ironically, perhaps, the insecurity of self-employment can generate a far more resilient life and mindset. Instead of counting on Big Brother in one form or another to provide retirement, the self-employed person builds their own human, social and financial capital. Those who rely on Big Brother are terribly vulnerable should Big Brother fail to make good on on his extravagant promises to 310 million people.
Gaining power and control over your life doesn't come cheap. Does anything really worthwhile come cheap? Knowledge, tradecraft, experience, networks of trusted suppliers, expertise: none of them come easy or cheap. All must be gained the hard way.
No wonder self-employment is down. It's tough to scratch out a living as an entrepreneur. It can be wearisome, but never as wearisome as a job you loathe. 

In August, 14.5 million people were self-employed, down 2.1 million from the most recent peak in December 2006, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.The number of "incorporated" self-employed workers — those who incorporate to gain legal protection and other benefits — began its decline in 2008. Last month, 5.1 million people were in this category, down 726,000 from August 2008.
Unincorporated self-employed — at 9.4 million last month — has changed little since last spring. It's hovering at its lowest level in 25 years, says BLS economist Steven Hipple.

Working for others is a good idea while you're building skills and networks. By all means, work for someone else while you're learning the ropes, and give them 150% value on the paycheck they hand you. Heck, if you find a decent employer, work part-time for them while you build your own income streams/career. You might even work part-time for several like-minded people and yourself on the side.
Interestingly, this survey found that the self-employed often see their work as helping society. How many employees feel that? I mention this as an example of the intangible benefits of working for yourself.

According to research by Economic Modeling Specialists International, the number of people who primarily work on their own has swelled by 1.3 million since 2001 to 10.6 million, a 14% increase.This rise is partially reflective of hard times, and many of the self-employed earn only modest livings in fields such as childcare and construction. However the shift to self-employment is likely to accelerate in the future, and into higher-paying professions, for reasons including the ubiquity of the Internet, which makes it easier for some types of business to use independent contractors, as well as the reluctance of large firms to hire full-time employees with benefits.

How can self-employment be falling and rising? It depends on how you count the self-employed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) divides the self-employed into two categories, incorporated (about 5 million) and unincorporated (about 10 million). Incorporated self-employed people are often professionals such as doctors, accountants and attorneys who value the legal benefits of a corporation or LLC (limited liability company).
To further confuse things, the BLS counts the incorporated self-employed as "wage earners" because they draw paychecks from themselves. So right off the bat we find a confusion between 14.5 million (total BLS self-employed) and the 10 million (the unincorporated self-employed) reported by the BLS as self-employed.
The private research firm mentioned above clearly counted those getting 1099s as self-employed, even if they are contract workers laboring alongside employees, as is often the case in Corporate America. It appears there are about 7 million people in 1099 nation, hence the other total of self-employed you see in print, 22 million.
So the conventional self-employed may be declining while the involuntary self-employed (those getting a 1099 instead of a paycheck) is rising. Of course it's rising: the ObamaCare neutron bomb is about to go off, making employee benefits unaffordable to businesses large and small.
Right now the self-employed--an enormously diverse mix of everything from micro-sized eBay businesses netting a few thousand dollars a year to professional corporations--comprise about 10% of the workforce (14.5 million self-employed, a total employed workforce of about 142 million). Add in those now getting 1099s instead of paychecks (7 million) and perhaps 14% of the workforce is self-employed (or at least responsible for paying their own quarterly taxes and healthcare insurance--slick move, Corporate America!).
For reasons I will discuss tomorrow, this number is very likely to rise.
But why, you ask, is working for yourself so great? I'll tell you why. Where else will you find a boss who knows your foibles, flaws and strengths so well? Where will you find a more forgiving boss, one who really understands what makes you tick? What other employer will give you the day off to go fishing because you really need a break? What other employer is going to let you keep everything you earned for the enterprise? And best of all--where else can you be boss and not have to deal with employees?

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resurger's picture

"My self"


doomandbloom's picture

Whom will i moan about then?

otto skorzeny's picture

can I sexually harass myself?

whotookmyalias's picture

I would say depending on the state, yes. Here in CA I don't think certain acts require to be demonstrated as "unwelcome" in order to qualify.  So even if you enjoy yourself, it may be harassment.

WayBehind's picture

Can you sexually harass yourself? Of course! I do it all the time! :)

MillionDollarBonus_'s picture

This denialism is understandable. It's far easier on one's ego to pretend that working for a top tier investment bank or a top law firm is undesirable. The harsh reality however, is that these institutions offer the most desirable compensation packages, and benefits that most people can only dream of receiving. Sadly, top tier institutions are only interested in target schools, and will rigorously screen applicants for not only outstanding academic achievements, but also exceptional leadership skills; a level of elite achievement that most people simply cannot attain.

merizobeach's picture

More than a decade of running my own company has made me unemployable.  There's no going back, bitchez.

And I laugh without sympathy at the serfs.

johnQpublic's picture



i can has day off tomorrow...always tomorrow

daxtonbrown's picture

I'm in the same boat, I'm too educated to fit in. That means I have no choice but to make my business ventures succeed. Sort of like Cortez burning his ships.

That means hard seven day weeks and a kick in my own pants for slacking off. What am I doing on ZH! Back to work.

kaiserhoff's picture

Been there, done that, ass hat.

I can show you dozens of people who went to elite institutions, and worked their butts off to get into the best firms, only to realize that is not the lifestyle any sane person would choose.

mayhem_korner's picture



+1000.  I used to manage a bunch of MIT, Stanford and CM super-quant types.  They can integrate and solve equations with no numbers, but many of them have no street smarts and simply rest on the laurels of their degrees.  I've worked as my own boss for years, and have more to show for it than most of the Ivy League stuffed shirts.  It's one big ruse.

Mr. Magniloquent's picture

I was an "investor consultant" for an oil & gas firm. Top floor of a glass tower in the downtown, 150k italian marble conference table, upper 200k compensation. One guy even bagged 1.1 million Q1 2012 due to commisions. I resigned after two months. The whole place was nothing but a megalomaniacal cesspool of dim, preening, talentless, wanna-be alphas. For all the money that was being made, the job was essentially cold-call telemarketing 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with next to no vacation time. There was one grounded gentleman that I would play chess with during lunch--a former investment banker. He said his former job was essentially the same function.

Now I'm laying the ground work to essentially be a high-tech farmer. It's been an interesting life.

natronic's picture

I think MDB just says stuff to intentionally get people riled up

DollarMenu's picture

Yes, for MDB to say 'The harsh reality however, is that these institutions offer the most desirable compensation packages, and benefits that most people can only dream of receiving."

and to offer that as the only measure by which one should value the use of one's life is childish at best.

tarsubil's picture

Congrats, you are more fresh and funny than MDB has been for a while. Nothing against MDB, it is just the bit has kinda run its course.

stacking12321's picture

this type of comment is typical of zero-hedgers - you can't reasonably argue against the fact that MDB is right and financial institutions are the best employers around, so instead you attempt to question his motives for saying so.

look, i know you like the thought of being a "rebel", and "sticking it to the man", but the time comes when a child must grow up and be a man, and accept that our institutions exist for a reason, and that reason is to benefit society as a whole as well as each one of us individually!


Tunga's picture

Brown nosed ass wipe's need apply only. 

kaiserhoff's picture

Great article...  One reason why the numbers don't match is that more people than ever are flying under the radar.  Expect more of that, not less.

From my own experience and that of friends, you will be happier self-employed with several modest sources of income, rather than one large business.  It's also more fun.  Easy to burn out on clients, routine, lack of vacation.  Watch what people are doing here, and you will see plenty of interesting niche markets.

NihilistZero's picture

When more people realize that working small jobs independently can keep you off the IRS radar as well as keep you qualified for the .gov goodies (Food Stamps and such) this will REALLY accelerate.  As has been said Obamacare's unintended (intended???) consequences are going to fundamentaly change the way employment is composed in this country.

MachoMan's picture

I'm pretty sure that everyone that can do that already does it...  you're probably 5+ years late.

kaiserhoff's picture

See your point, Macho, but I travel a bit, and the regional differences in this country are staggering.  There are parts of the Midwest where you have to pinch yourself to realize it's not still the '50s, and yes that's good and bad, and just weird.

More to the point, and the point above - I meet people who are just figuring out, that crappy as the present is, Scumbama Care will kill off the last of the full time jobs.

Diogenes's picture

Tell me where those places are, that you can live like it was the 50s?

kaiserhoff's picture

You can't quite "live" like it was the 50's, but,

take the roads less traveled - a wide arc south of the corn belt.  Central Missouri through Southern Illinois/Indiana/Ohio, and down along the West side of the Appalachians.

Much of Southern Indiana is national forest.  Buy a few acres up against that, and you have a pretty cheap play ground.

Same look east of the Blue Ridge, but way too pricey.

MachoMan's picture

Much of arkansas is like this...  with cheaper land prices than the rest of the lot...

kaiserhoff's picture

Yeah, incomes  don't translate into lifestyle any more, if they ever did.

Dr. Richard Head's picture

I just went to the Social Security Administration to add up how much I made over the course of the past 19 years of me being employed (I am 34) - $1,102,944.  The most money I have made has been over the past three years as the owner of a company.  Go figure.  Medicare/SS taxes are killing me though.  Over $123K has gone to that ponzi shceme over the 19 years.  That isreally a 10% tax on my income, since the money the employer has to pay into this shit doesn't go to me as it would have normally.  The income tax.......don't even get me started.


otto skorzeny's picture

SS doesn't even bother sending out yearly reports to me any more and I'm 40. If you're 55 or younger they figure what's the use.

Dr. Richard Head's picture

My statements stopped coming as well.  The only way I was able to access this was to go to their damned website.  Curiously, they try and push people to give out their cell phone number as a "security" measure.  Fuck them and the President they rode in on.

TruthInSunshine's picture

If anyone here really wants to get physically ill, you can figure out your actual tax rate (at least in nominal terms) only by compiling a comprehensive list of all local, state & federal taxes you pay, whether they're called "taxes," (federal income taxes, state income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, municipal taxes, gasoline/diesel tax,  "license," "permit," "FICA," etc. etc.

If you have gross income of approximately 40k or more per year, once you add all these together (what I will call "costs," to make it simpler), I would be shocked if your total effective tax rate isn't 50% of your income (think about how many people never bother to contemplate they're paying 40 cents to 90 cents of state and federal taxes per each gallon of gasoline they pump into their vehicles, depending on the state they live in).

Where I live, just the local property taxes on a PRIMARY residence assessed @ 500k run under $11,000 annually (and there's serious talk of doing away with the mortgage deduction at the federal level), and there are states that have much higher local property tax rates than this.

I'll let someone with really accurate and far more detailed knowledge of this let me know if I'm far off base here, though.

When you get into the $100k+ income range, regardless of married or single, is when they really shove it up your ass, and if you have an income or base of wealth that puts you in the "death tax" range, you're simply f*cked.

There was a truly knowledgeable estate & trust expert who gave a presentation to a section of our company who laid out an actual case of a decedent that passed away sometime in the late 1990s, who had a date of death net worth of 300+ million. When the final calculus was done, and the death tax paid, and an analysis was done compiling all the taxes that this person paid in taxes on each dollar earned through her closely held corporation, it turned out that her company generated 14x that amount of what is conventionally thought of as GROSS REVENUE (NOT NET PROFIT) over the years, to allow for a PRE-DEATH/ESTATE TAX net worth of 300 million USD.

The final analysis was that when the business was passed on to her heirs, post-death tax paid (the estate tax was 50% plus a 5% surtax - look up the effective estate tax rates for either 98 or 99 if you think I'm exaggerating), they essentially received 17% of what been the NET VALUE of the business and its various assets, and this didn't even take into factor many transactional taxes incurred in the ordinary course of business paid out over the years by the business, that would have otherwise have accrued to the worth of the business and been passed on.

MachoMan's picture

Not really, the worst area is the $35k-$60k/year range...  basically the range where you make too much to get government support, but too little to be able to practically do any estate/tax planning or otherwise maneuver into tax avoidance.  It's all the same from there til you hit the highest tax bracket...  and then it doesn't really matter too much unless you just do a lot of cocaine and hookers and need the scratch to keep up the habit.

What .gov isn't planning on though is the tax consequences from 1099 nation...  as a self employed person, a plethora of tax avoidance mechanisms become readily available.

tarsubil's picture

Someone did a chart comparing buying power for a range of yearly wages where they included taxes and benefits like food stamps. There were instances where making more money hurt at the lower ranges and generallly, unless you made more than 100K, you had about the same buying power. Yeah, that is a healthy system to work under.

kaiserhoff's picture

Yeah, that real mid-range is no fun.  I see why people do it.  The kids like to eat.  But still...

IRS agents are not rocket scientists;)

Professorlocknload's picture

Had an old Mormon, reminded me of Harry Reid, tell me, "son, you can work for yourself or you can work for the State. When they make these tax laws, they always put in legitimate loopholes for themselves and their pals. Pretty much anyone can find 'em if they look hard enough"

Automate, outsource*, reinvest, depreciate.Then do the SS tax calcs.


*the division of labor is your friend. See

Rubbish's picture

4 decades over paying myself.

whotookmyalias's picture

I definitely demand a salary an benefits package that is much more than I'm willing to pay.  I might even be overqualified.  I just made myself unemployable by myself.

ChanceIs's picture

How do you deal with those noisome wrongful termination suits?

Cacete de Ouro's picture

Avoid lying shifty bosses who hail from a country with a cresent and single star on a green field background, and that pretend to be more American than the Americans themselves...

TBT or not TBT's picture

He pretends to be an African American and isn't. That was all a pose. He was largely raised by white liberal radicals, with the father figure present being a prolific communist, and the Kenyan father who was not present constantly referrred to in glowing terms by the mother, even though he was a pathetic loser. The father's big thing was getting revenge on the colonial powers, and that "dream" from obama's genetic father Obama claims is his own. He is at it now, destroying the USA.

mjorden's picture

As acting CEO, CIO, CFO, CTO ... my first act is to .. outsource.

ali-ali-al-qomfri's picture

I’m the CEO when sitting on the toilet

and the Sanitation Custodian when I flush.


edit; a clean serparation of doodies.


Suraj Corominas's picture

That's one sure way to hire a workforce that doesn't give a toss about whether your company succeeds or not. 

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I have three employees. Me, Myself and I

< I is my favorite, but what do I know?>