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Monday, December 11, 2006

I want a fair wage... Pay this singing sensation what he's worth!

Do you know what it takes to become a freelance writer?

Not much. In fact, if you are willing to say "I am a freelance writer," you're in the club. Seriously. There is no licensing, no minimum professional standards, no nothing. Just you and your intent.

Thus, your cousin who hasn't read anything but the International House of Pancakes Menu since 1992 can become a freelance writer in less time than it takes him to pour on the maple syrup.

I might like your cousin, but his inability to spell, his failure to adhere to any recognized version of English grammar, his complete lack of originality, and his tendency to sneak the phrase "Metallica Rules" into everything he writes bothers me. It bothers me enough that I don't think he DESERVES a fair minimum wage as a writer.

He might deserve a fair wage in general, but not as a writer. His desire to become a freelance writer just isn't enough for me to think that's right. I don't want him to starve, but I don't want him polluting the writing pool with his unreadable essays.

I think I deserve a reasonable wage for my writing efforts. I don't, however, think I deserve a fair minimum wage to sing haunting ballads. Why not? Because I don't know how to sing. I like the idea of being a singer, but my desire to be a soloist doesn't mean that the world owes me a living at the microphone. That's especially true due to my inability to sing worth a damn. I'm the world's worst singer.

Guess what, though? I just said "I'm a freelance singing sensation," so now anyone I can trick into hiring me will have to pay me as much as they'd pay Pat Benatar (I have selected Ms. Benatar's current rate of pay as the acceptable minimum for all freelance singing sensations based on my own arbitrary whim, because that's the way this kind of thing is done).

This is one place where the "freelance writers should demand a minimum wage" argument just falls apart for me. The idea that anyone owes any self-proclaimed writer as much as a ha' penny for his or her work simply because he or she decided to say "I'm a freelance writer" after having a few too many adult beverages at the happy hour just doesn't make sense to me.

So, if you are ready to argue that each and every freelance writer deserves $25/hr., a standardized level of pay based on the nature of an assignment, or some other arrangement, I hope you are ready to pay me to be a singer, too. Wait until you hear my confusingly unrecognizable version of "Bridge Over Troubled Water!"

Your cousin and I are going to pool our earnings and use them to open our own karaoke/pancake house.

I know writers want to get paid for their efforts. That's reasonable.

It's also something the good ones can do without resorting to the creation of an arbitrary minimum salary that risks over-compensating the incompetent and driving down wages for the truly talented.