The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Also, You’re Not Cynical Enough

Posted on | July 19, 2013 | 21 Comments

The two most important questions in any contract are:

  1. What’s in it for me?
  2. What’s in it for them?

Caveat emptor. Honesty is the best policy, but you have the right to remain silent. In other words, if somebody offers you a deal and you don’t like the offer, just walk away. You don’t owe them an explanation of why you rejected their offer. “No thanks, I’ll look elsewhere.”

In any negotiated contract, the other guy is always trying to maximize his profit opportunity, trying to get you to sell too low or buy too high. He knows at the outset of the negotiation what is his minimum price to sell (or maximum price to buy), and the question that you have to ask yourself is, “Can I get a better price elsewhere?”

Wages are prices, and your job is always a contracted purchase: You will exchange X amount of labor for Y amount of money.

If you don’t like your job, just quit — no harm, no foul — and seek employment elsewhere. Nobody can force you to be underpaid or mistreated, unless you’re a crack whore with a sadistic pimp, and yet  many people don’t think of their jobs as market transactions.

They do not understand that their labor, their knowledge, their experience and skills are commodities for which there is a demand, so that they can always shop around for the best deal. Instead, people buy into the leftist idea of “workers’ rights” and, rather than just quitting a job they’re unhappy with and looking for a better job, they become disgruntled and start thinking in terms of revenge.

The counterfactual unreality of “worker rights” is to blame, for example, in all lawsuits alleging workplace discrimination. Hey, if you’re working someplace where unfairness and mistreatment are commonplace, just quit and find a job you like better. And if your boss asks you why you’re quitting, you can explain it to him — or not. Remember, you have the right to remain silent. Maybe you can privately explain to your friends (if they ask) that your former boss is a jerk and the company routinely mistreats its employees, but that’s your call.

There are some organizations and individuals I respect, and some I don’t. It’s a free country. Nobody can force me to work for assholes.

Anyway, my sarcastic Twitter response to the Leadership Institute’s Director of Digital Communications Abigail Alger might be wrongly interpreted, if I didn’t explain it. LI is an excellent organization and Abby is a wonderful person, and it is not their fault that (a) I just happened to see that Tweet, and (b) the solicitation of “advice on Twitter to your fellow activists” hit me the wrong way.

Could I explain why it hit me the wrong way? Sure I could, but I have the right to remain silent, and if you make a habit of offering advice for free, nobody’s ever going to pay you for it.

Looking down the staff roster at LI, I see many familiar names, including Josiah Ryan, Gabriella Hoffman and Danielle Saul, and I’m sure they’re just really grateful that I’ve name-checked them here, while Abby’s wondering, “What the hell’s his problem?”

Ask me at a happy hour in Arlington sometime. You’re buying.



  • Richard McEnroe

    “You’re buying,” Robert Stacy McCain.
    “The sun came up this morning,” anyone else.

    Actually, Stacy, I know a guy who made his pile forcing people to be underpaid and mistreated… but that’s too good a story to tell on someone else’s blog for free…

  • robertstacymccain

    Exactly. Embed the link to the story on your blog.

    What is the purpose of business? To get paid.

    Everything else is just a means to that end. And some people are insufficiently cynical.

  • TC_LeatherPenguin

    WHOEVER: “I’ll pay you XXX.”
    ME: “Nope.”
    WHOEVER: “Why not?”
    ME: “2 more zeros.”
    WHOEVER: “Okay, you got it.”
    ME “Still not interested.”
    ME: “Changed my mind; need another zero.”

  • jakee308

    I wouldn’t want to belong to a club that would let me be a member.

  • Finrod Felagund

    Fortunately I’m just an amateur when it comes to politics, since I earn my money in a different field. Reminds me of this HST quote:

    “I’ve always considered writing the most hateful kind of work. I suspect it’s a bit like fucking, which is only fun for amateurs. Old whores don’t do much giggling.”

  • rmnixondeceased

    Everything is for sale and everyone has their price. Most people would be shocked at how low their price actually is when push comes to shove. Would you kill a man to save your loved one’s life? Most would answer yes. Would you to feed your child? That depends … Mankind is simply predatory animals with a very thin veneer of ‘humanity’ and our upcoming generations’ veneers are getting thinner and splotchy in places …

  • Richard McEnroe

    ‘Civilize ’em with a Krag, murder’em every one, and return us to our beloved homes…

  • Scribe of Slog (McGehee)

    The two most important questions in any contract are:

      1. What’s in it for me?

      2. What’s in it for them?

    And way too many peple don’t bother with #2, if #1 sounds good enough — but #2 may have a direct bearing on the other party’s ability to ensure #1, let alone his incentive to do so.

  • SDN

    “If you don’t like your job, just quit — no harm, no foul — and seek employment elsewhere.”

    This should apply to both sides: If your employee wants to leave, let them — no harm, no foul. Unfortunately, waaayyy too many bosses, especially in small business, take it as a personal betrayal.

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  • K-Bob

    Also, everything on the internet is free.

    Until you want something.

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