The author points out a lot of exceptions (eg working at a startup or somewhere where you might get something out of it). If you take out all those exceptions, you basically end up with the crap jobs.
The real problems with a crap job isn't the unpaid overtimes... it's that it's a crap jobs.
The fact is though, you get as much out of pretty much anything in life as you put in. If you want to working 9-5 5 days a week, you can probably find a job that'll let you do that if you try, which is fine, but I probably wouldn't expect anything but stagnating in it.
I too have been a contractor. Never again. It's the ultimate in transactional work . When I did do it though, I always negotiated an hourly rate. Employers love a daily rate because what is a day exactly? An hour is unambiguous.
Health insurance in the US is a problem. This is known. The lack of vacation here is (IMHO) a problem too.
I now have a great job and I have it because I put in effort (both at work and outside). YMMV.
This is what most people do for a living. If you call that "stagnating" or "crap", you missed out half the point of the post: that the majority of people don't live to work, they work to live. They don't expect to get any fulfillment out of their job, they get it out of their life outside of work.
The idea that you cannot expect to get much out of life if you only put in 40 hours a week is bullshit that reduces the majority of the population to drones who's happiness is irrelevant.
That's almost half of your adult life, if you exclude sleep, that you throw away just so you can "enjoy" the other 8 hours a day you have. I personally have failed miserably to be happy with my life if my 8 hours of work a day sucked or were mediocre, I want all of my waking hours to have meaning. Not everybody has that luxury, but I feel it's something we should all strive for.
Now if we are only talking in the domain of information workers. There is still CRUD to be developed or the 1 millionth website designed or other boring business logic to be developed.
I got this questions many times if you win the lottery would you still be doing your job. Hell no and I love my job. But there are other things I enjoy even more...
If I had unlimited money, I would still work in technology and with technology, I simply love learning and hacking too much. I would not be writing mindless Java CRUD though, unless perhaps if those were my customers and I somehow felt that someone's life somewhere will so greatly benefit from it that I HAVE to do it for their sake.
Luckily I can study at a university in Belgium that's one of the top 100 universities in the world for a fraction of that amount.
Actually If I had unlimited money I would do the same thing as what Bill Gates is doing now. It benefits people too and you don't have to do the work :D
For most people, the alternative is to live in crippling poverty and/or starve. That 75,000 hours is the cost of survival. Do you think that the vast majority of people on earth are just ignorant of the fact that there are good jobs out there? Well thanks for alerting us! No one will ever clean a toilet again, now that you've shown us the light.
I'd argue that the jobs that expect work outside of 9-5 / 5 days per week have some of the worst 'returns' of any. I avoid them like the plague in that it usually signals something wrong with the company. My current job is strictly 9-5 and is one of the most rewarding and interesting jobs I've ever had.
Most of us here are either involved in or want to be involved in a startup but that's not how it is for every programmer out there and we should remind ourselves of that.
If your manager doesn't care about work-life balance and is perfectly happy with making you work 60+ hour weeks without any sort of compensation, be it in money or time-off, your best bet is to start looking for a different position, possibly at a different company. That way you at least do not lose health insurance.
In any case, yes, being afraid to lose your job because you don't know how to pay for a basic need such as being healthy is absurd in the First World.
What makes a crap job a crap job? I'd argue expectations beyond the scope of the work contract, and forced acceptance of unbecoming contracts due to lack of better options.
It really sounds, to me, like you're saying "unpaid overtime isn't the problem. Being treated badly is." So, yeah. Probably reading this wrong.