Does Free Agency deflate the political bubble? What would be the political future of representatives that hold out the promise of jobs, as something government creates or provides, with an electorate discovering they can get work on their own – that work and jobs aren’t the same thing? Think about it – we elect politicians because of what they’re going to do and, most often, what they’re going to do for us. One form of entitlement or another seems to govern most political behavior in the United States – whether it’s adjustment to taxes, subsidies, restrictions on trade, restrictions on the environment, requirements for employers, or the issue of national health care and all it entails. Already there’s an anti-establishment groundswell that says it’s less important for the government to provide us things than for it to not waste our time, our resources, and our national attention. Right now, that grassroots disquiet with the political culture has too little direction to be effective. But what if the larger society became increasingly immune to the traditional battery of political promises? What if the average voter became less politically dependent, and right where it counts – in the area of vocation?
It’s speculation, but this is perhaps what Free Agency and being a Free Agent, ultimately, implies. When we stop regarding the national anxiety over jobs as a lack of available work. When we start setting our own terms, carrying out own contract, negotiating our own deal, bringing our own healthcare – when we stop depending on it being easy – someone handing us an available job – what do we want *then* from our politicians? I’ll bet they’re not yet thinking about that, like we are. The awakening is liable to be rude. What do we really *want* if, for the most important thing government touches, our work, we’re self-contained and self-reliant? Even with the powers that be doing all they can, some sectors of the economy aren’t coming back for the foreseeable future, some industries are never coming back, and the next bubble – besides being a foolish thing to hope for – may not see this generation or the next. So much leverage for change has already been applied to the world of work (some would say, “so much damage has already been done”, but I think it’s far more positive than that), so many people are already rediscovering the value of having a trade, being able to start a home business, the joys and freedom of contract work, the wisdom of having multiple irons in the fire – so many have already jettisoned the illusion that if we just wait on our roofs for a little longer, the government is coming to help us – that a lot of people, frankly, don’t *want* to return to the way things were. And *that* portends, possibly, a significant political as well as social shift.
Touch people’s work, or stop touching it – either one – and you change, potentially, the political and social climate – possibly irrevocably. Work is that close to us, it’s that integral to the social compact, that much a part of representative government and what it contracts, if nowhere committing on paper, to deliver. Let people find work without government, work without “jobs”, work on their own – sustainable work – and what you’ve allowed to develop is a sustainable (if people realize it) return of independence as a political force. In other words, you get an electorate, a populace, that doesn’t need you any more. Or at least, it doesn’t need what you’re promising. Right now, there may be signs on sidewalks reading “throw the bums out”, but that’s not a far cry from ordinary folks asking “what good are you?” or, to put it another way, “Yeah, but what have you done for me lately?” I want to avoid being overly predictive. Maybe it’s a stretch. But I don’t think it’s amiss to say that Free Agency is a somewhat radical idea when held up to the level of dependency, represented in the current national obsession over “jobs”, and has implications for possible social change – especially when even if we create more jobs, they likely won’t be the jobs that the unemployed trained for. Creating thousands of green jobs in hydrogen fuels, solar power, and wind technology doesn’t mean a financial services sales manager or pharmaceutical rep is going to get that job. So what does he do in the meantime? He thinks on his feet and that, likely, translates into a different political impulse. In that sense, maybe the bubble wasn’t just about mortgages and banking – maybe it was a social and political bubble, and we’ve yet to see the effects that are coming as it continues to deflate.