Anyway... today turned out to be pay day. Why is that special? Well, like most of the rest of you, we tend to live paycheck to paycheck, but the main difference is that those in my profession only have one or two of these a year. Take a minute to think about you and your current profession, and how it translates back to mine.
Let's just say, for the sake of example, you live in the Boston area and worked for some sort of graphic design firm. Now there are a lot of graphic designers out there, so the market price for graphic designers is constantly in flux depending on the time of year that your wares are paid for. Due to the vagaries of the marketplace, you can decide to lock in a yearly salary figure on any day of the year at that day's market price, but can only pick up your check between the 15th of November and the 10th of December, depending on which day the owner of the company you work for and you agree to.
Just remember, once you lock in a particular yearly figure, you can't change it until the next year. Another thing to consider is that the market is constantly changing, and the day you lock in could very well be the lowest it reaches all year long. Then again, it could be the best, the thing is... you don't know that on the day you have to decide. You're gambling either way.
The next problem you're faced with is that you don't get to set the market for your profession. The people that are purchasing your designs get to do that, and therefore you really have no say in the market. You just get to choose which day you accept their offers.
As if this wasn't bad enough, at the end of the year when pay day arrives, the buyer looks over your products and decides he doesn't like this one, or that one, and that one doesn't fit with the others so he doesn't want that either, and he's going to deduct those from your check.
All in all, you could probably live with this arrangement. After all, it's still driven by supply and demand, but we just can't have that because you're the only one making money off of your efforts, so here's what we're going to do...
We're going to create a futures market for graphic designers, so that you can hedge your losses if you want to play the "puts" and "calls" according to the rules we've set up for futures trading. Unfortunately for you, this means that the market is no longer determined by you and the one purchasing your products, rather, any law office manager or housewife can now play the futures too and try to make money of the changes in the market without ever having owned or purchased any of your products. The more of these people that are "playing the futures", the more the market fluctuates and the less it is actually tied to the supply and demand forces. Eventually, the futures market overtakes the real market as the price setting entity. That means that when the housewives and law office managers get nervous and start selling their futures contracts, the market plummets and your products are now worth much less than they were a week ago, and you've had absolutely no say in anything.
The other thing it means is that the market can never be stable. If it were, these types of people couldn't buy low and sell high and there would be no profit to be made. So intrinsically the market has to fluctuate a great deal on a regular basis so that this profit taking can occur.
We can all see a little inequity in this situation to you the producer, so we'll fix it. Do away with the futures you say? Oh... how foolish of you. Do you realize all of the money and jobs that would cost? We couldn't possibly do that, think of the political ramifications. No... what we're going to do is pass a bill in congress that makes mandatory reporting of graphic designs the new thing. We're going to create a new set of people now employed by the Department of Designers whose job is to call all of the graphic designers and make them report how many products they've produced so far this year, and we'll do this every quarter, compile them, and then make quarterly reports to the masses so that their confidence will be buoyed and the people playing the futures markets won't lose confidence in the game. Oh, by the way, this reporting will be mandatorily forced upon you and if you lie or refuse, you'll be subject to fines and imprisonment. Sounds like a good fix, doesn't it?
What was that you said? You think that will take out what was left of any price discovery based on product uncertainty? Eh... you do have a point about that. Hmmm... the more I think about it, if people actually knew how many graphic designers were out there and how much they were producing, they could hold you over a barrel and pretty well collude against you. Do away with the mandatory reporting and the futures you say and get back to a strict market based on supply and demand? You just don't understand how the world works, do you.
Ok... here's what we'll do. We're going to set up a government program to pay you for the product that you couldn't sell because we let everyone know what was available. Waitaminute... that won't work will it. No... then you'd kick out tons of product and we'd be stuck buying it, so I've got a better idea, what we're going to do is have you come down and fill out a bunch of forms showing what your production has been for the last 5 years, and then we'll pay you NOT to produce that much. But then you've got to agree not to produce anything and just cash the check...
There. It's settled. Of course now you've got to listen to those folks from all over the country, who obviously know everything because they watched some expose on the news about you, talking about you graphic design welfare recipients, and how you're bilking the government of all that money.
The funny thing is, all you really want to do is to just enjoy the fruits of your labor in the occupation that you chose without all the strings attached, but alas...
Don't you all wish you were in agriculture too?