A local young Republican lawyer, Matthew Z. Kirkpatrick, was making ends meet in May by delivering phone books, and blogging about it. He blogged about it for two days, but hasn’t blogged since, so it’ not clear how much manual labor he was able to handle. (He did tweet that he made it at least 7 days.)
I hope that Matthew received routes that included do-not-deliver notes, and training that made it clear that delivering to vacant properties was not helping anyone. In fact, being the conservative that Kirkpatrick claims to be, you’d think it would be in his own self-interest to avoid over-delivery of phone books in order to save taxpayer dollars that would be wasted cleaning up the books he delivered that would never be used. He does mention encountering a left-leaning Eagan resident who seems pretty well informed about phone book company externalities:
Phone Books are a hot button issue for some people.
One gentleman intrigued me by his understanding of all of the different phone books. However, what intrigued me most was the need to discuss with me for ten minutes why he said that he was sad that the phone book company was taking advantage of me. (I didn’t give him any back story, he was just making assumptions as to my need to deliver phone books. ) As I was walking away, I saw Obama and Franken stickers on his car. I made my own assumptions.
Kirkpatrick may be right that people aren’t exactly being taken advantage of when they’re using their own vehicles, gas, car insurance, health insurance, and wear & tear to deliver phone books on piecework rates that often come out to little more than minimum wage after expenses. The reality of the market these days is that jobs that require little training and expertise offer little pay.
This, to me, sounds like a situation where underemployment may actually be worse than unemployment. With unemployment, a person may have time to find a job that fits their skills. Underemployment may actually cut into job searching time. Although piecework does offer quite a bit of flexibility, so this situation may be better than some other underemployment situations.