Must We Be Independents to Have Independence?

One of my favorite speeches to listen to was given by Oliver DeMille, of George Wythe University, titled “The Four Lost American Ideals“. He talks about four ideals (Georgics, Providence, Liber and Public Virtue) that contribute to a person becoming a great leader. These ideals, or ideas of Americanism, are necessary to preserve the Freedom fought for by our Founding Fathers. These ideas are what being an American use to mean.

The focus of this post will be on Georgics. It is not a common word today. Georgic means to be an owner, or ownership.

jeffersonThere was a debate between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton regarding what type of nation we should be. They agreed we should be a commercial society, but differed in what type of commercial system to establish.

The Founders believed that America should be organized in a way that allows people the freedom to pursue and obtain the basic necessities of life. The idea of the American Dream is that anyone could become a commercial success. The Founders chose this over being a martial or religious society. Essentially this is what we call a free-market or free-enterprise system.

Hamilton wanted to have a society where everyone is working for big entities and organizations, big industry in which a lot of people are working together to create wealth. As you can see today we’re seeing more and more of this, and less and less of what Jefferson promoted.

Jefferson recognized this would limit the people’s freedom. The model Jefferson proposed is having a bunch of people who are farmers, land owners, shop owners and businessmen and entrepreneurs. Independents. People who are independent, not dependent (Owner vs Employee).

A dependent depends on others. An independent is an owner, someone who is Georgic; someone who owns their own business.

DeMille said that by the year 1900 – 90% of America in general were owners. Now, 100 years later, there are less than 10% who are owners… and the impact on freedom has been proportional.

Often the difference between a person that chooses to be independent rather than dependent is the type of education they received. Those who have a received a “Liber” education generally learn how to think for themselves, whereas others are taught what to think.

I wasn’t brought up in a Liber education. During the past 4 years of my life I have drastically changed my paradigm and way of thinking more in line with a Liber education, through my own studies of the Founding Fathers, the proper role of government and the principles of freedom.  The studies have also lead me to studying the writings of other great minds.  This paradigm shift gave me the desire to pursue my own interests in business as an Entrepreneur rather than working for someone else the rest of my life. I have made the choice to be an independent rather than a dependent.

It’s not necessarily a bad or good thing to be a dependent or an independent, it’s simply a choice. I also recognize that no one is ever going to be completely independent, nor would that be an ideal goal. As a business owner I still depend on other individuals and businesses for many things. As a business owner I enjoy a lot more freedom than I previously did when working for others, though it’s also more challenge and less predictable and stable – but worth it to me.  One point I’d like to promote is that whether you choose to be a business owner or an employee, realize that it is a choice; go with what you feel inspired to do.

Jefferson said you can’t have independence unless you are a nation of independents. If you are a nation of dependents you won’t be free.

I’d love to get your thoughts on Georgics and business ownership vs. employment…

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4 Responses to “Must We Be Independents to Have Independence?”

  1. Michele Says:

    I had my own private practice for speech therapy for about a year. In some ways it was good. I could schedule my own hours and I didn’t really have to answer to anyone but myself. If I wanted a vacation I could take one. I set my own hours. The drawbacks were billing. Many times I billed out and never got paid for lots of hours of services I had already provided. In esence I worked very hard for free so that REALLY rubbed me the wrong way. I also had to travel a lot and could not afford to pay for my own insurance so neither I nor my husband were covered. The bottom line for me was that I had never worked so hard for so little compensation in my entire life. It was not good, but I do think it had everything to do with the type of business I owned and that if it were a different type of business it may have worked out much better.

    My husband owns his own computer repair business. He works ALL the time, but he makes good money, works the hours he chooses, takes vacation whenever he wants it, plays golf when he feels like it and his insuracnce is covered through MY employer. He has a lot of pain issues and is basically unable to be employed by someone else. He needs the freedom to go to doctors appointments, and to rest when he needs to. If he worked for an employer he would have lost his job by now and would have to draw disability. Now he is independent and making a very good living for our family. It’s perfect for him. The hard part is that he has more work than he can actually do, but cannot find a trustworthy, dependable, and smart person who knows how to do the work he does to help him. This causes him to have to work very long days and most weekends.

    It is good that we have a little bit of both in our family : ownership and employment.

  2. Brian M. Says:

    If you don’t mind some direct feedback, based on my own experience of being a self-employed web designer… (I believe this information will be useful to others who are self-employed or thinking about starting their own business)

    I typically request that my clients pay 50% of the estimated cost up front, that shows the client is committed and avoids the possibility of me providing a service and not getting paid for it. Most people have no problem paying some of the cost in advance.

    Also, regarding “I had never worked so hard for so little compensation”… I can see how that’s related to clients not paying, but also, maybe your services were under-priced? I know it was hard for me to make the transition from being employed to being a business owner, and billing according to what my services are worth.

    When someone is used to getting paid $15/hour for doing something for their employer, they will probably need to charge at least $50/hour to their clients for that service (that’s most likely what your employer was charging their clients)… you have to figure in, not just the time it takes to do the work, but also the time you spend on managing and marketing your business and all the many business expenses. Also, it’s a good idea to contact other businesses in your field to get an idea of what the typical market rates are for your service.

    Having more work than you can handle is usually a good problem! Unless, like your husband, you can’t find some else that you can depend on to hire to take on some of that workload.

  3. Jean Pack Says:

    Michele, I watched a Psychiatrist nearly go down the tubes in her business because of people not wanting to pay after they received the service. She hired a person to manage the front office. This person was very friendly but very stern on payments before they received the service ( before they went into the Doctors office). Her business grew by leaps and bounds. I agree with everything Brian said in the comments above. We need to have people pay in advance because of the way many people think now days.

  4. J Max Says:

    Brian – excellent points. I never knew that there was an actual word (“Georgics”) for that concept. I see a direct correlation between the decline in the number of entrepreneurs and our loss of liberty. It seems logical that one who works for another can never truly be free.

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