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This is a rant that's a bit all over the place.

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 [1]. 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.

[1]: http://cdixon.org/2009/10/23/twelve-months-notice/

In the real world, there aren't only great jobs and crap jobs. Most jobs are just jobs. Period. You put in work, you get paid. It's not horrible, it's not always great fun either, but it's neither awesome nor crap.

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.

If you live your work life, say from when you're 25 to 65, working from 9 to 5 on something that you don't really care about but you do just to pay the bills, aren't those 75,000 hours of your life you flushed down the toilet?

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.

Tell that to the people cleaning after you in the office. The people picking up your trash or the millions of other jobs that pay the bill.

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...

Why do I have to compare my situation to that of a latin-american middle-aged lady that ran away from the crippling poverty of her country to pursue her version of the American dream? How does that put in perspective 300 grand I dumped into six years of education at two top 5 US institutions and years of experience at industry giants?

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.

What a stereotyping. I think in America a lot of people have 2 jobs or maybe 3 jobs. They must be loving their job. America is the greatest and best country if have to dump 300 grand in education.

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

If you live your work life, say from when you're 25 to 65, working from 9 to 5 on something that you don't really care about but you do just to pay the bills, aren't those 75,000 hours of your life you flushed down the toilet?

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.

Sorry but I have to disagree. Thats a great philosophy for employer's to pitch and I suppose one that I might pitch to employees if I were employing them but is also in my experience a fallacy. Especially after working for a number of years and "rising through the ranks" jobs become "just" jobs - a decent way to receive a steady income and hopefully a way to enjoy and challenge yourself to a certain degree.

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.

I love my job, but I've been putting in 14 hour days nonstop for months now and I'm starting to get burned out. According to you, my job must be a crap job (or I'm a bad coder), otherwise I'd be loving all the overtime, right?

Those crap jobs are jobs that most people have to pay their bills. No everybody can live on Ramen noodles and the probability of success for a startup is fairly low. Honestly, anything that is not a startup is a crap job? Then once your startup actually gets off the ground, all your non-vested employees are basically working a crap job, right?

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.

I agree that if your own health and that of your family didn't depend on your employer liking you, true at-will employment would be a lot more realistic. Right now many people are afraid of rocking the boat too much or to stand up for themselves because in case they get fired they might go bankrupt in case of an accident (I think realistically it might not be as dramatic, I think COBRA retroactively applies to whatever issues you might have encountered in between real health care plans).

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 if you have a chronic illness that will never allow you to be "healthy" regardless of what lifestyle choices you make? Additionally COBRA allows you to pay the full unsubsidized cost of your insurance, not your normal subsidized premiums. As far as employer culture, that is something you really do not understand fully until you've been on the job for awhile. You could very well end up in a worse position than the one you left. You can't just say "I don't like it here, so I am going to go over there for awhile, if it doesn't work out then I'll come back'. No. It's a risk & the risk is your livelihood & possibly your health. All are reasons people don't just bail when the job starts going downhill.

I'd really like you to better define what you consider a "crap job".

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.

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