Wage theft in the USA

A blogger wrote:

If you could see my career in IT in terms of output versus input, you’d be enraged and come to the conclusion I am a complete pussy, born loser and somehow doomed to be exploited.

Honestly, after thirty years I’d have to begrudgingly admit there is something to that accusation. Things seem rigged against me.

If you don’t have the internal compulsion to obey the rules and fulfill your verbal contracts with others that I do then you’d never experience the things I experience all the time. I mean, it’s a compulsion. Like automatic behavior associated with drug addiction or gambling. You could scream “Hey, they ain’t paid you! Don’t be stupid and give them anything else until they have paid you! What are you, some kind of f*cking retard?!?” I always feel like I need to be spotless in terms of any reason they might be able to dream up as an excuse not to pay me what they owe me. So I go out to site and install my completed product on an empty belly, borrowing money from gas for our savings account and eating $1.95 hotdogs at Cost-Co because it is all I have left in my pocket. With more than $22,000 dollars outstanding in unpaid invoices for my work. With people at the site asking me why I look so run down and complementing me on the amazing quality of the application I have just installed. Me trying to look cheerful and engaged when I explain to them how to use it. With the boss on the phone with my employer, telling him how good this looks and organizing payment. Remember, I think, they are always right, no matter how much it seems like they are wrong. I am always wrong and being too petty worrying about my paycheck. They will get to it when they feel like it. Not when I need it.

Always the little voice in my head telling me about reciprocation. The other party will deal straight with me if I am straight with them. Except that was true about 300,000 years ago in tribes with less than 100 people. In the modern era with Homo Sapiens it’s a recipe to get cheated in every interaction.

It happens so many times in life it’s like a merry-go-round where you just sit on the same horse and go around and around forever. You jump off, you say that’s it, won’t get me on that horse again. Next thing you know you are riding the starvation carousel again and doing some of your best work as a software developer. It happens again and again and again. I am always the guy right in the middle with his hands on the keyboard watching the money float all around me. I always seem to be the only guy who isn’t getting paid here. It’s thirty years of me with my head down seemingly the only guy in this entire foodchain who is going hungry.

Pretending to have integrity and honesty as opposed to actually being honest and having integrity is about a million times superior. There’s no point in asking why humans are so phoney – the fact is, people who are completely full of sh*t make out much, much better in life than people like me.

I promised a client I would deliver functionality by the end of March. They have not paid me in six weeks. They have just been ignoring my invoices. I didn’t want them to claim I am not professional, was not capable of doing the work or delayed my delivery schedule. So I completed it, all features present, installed it on site and left it running.

Still not paid a dime.

It’s easy to tell me I am either stupid or confused. It’s easy. I need to know how I can make this crap change because it always ends the same way.

Eventually they will pay. Nobody will find out this multimillion dollar corporation was shivving some Asperger’s Syndrome developer they paid to do the work of ten people and deliver something they needed at a fraction of the original estimate. That’s delivered. As installed on site and running for the customer, no complaints and no maintenance calls. These guys will maintain their reputation and nobody will know what utter bastards they are or what sort of contempt they show people who are foolish enough to work with them.

Now the customer is asking for additional features. I know these guys are going to bring it up the next time I call to ask what is happening with the outstanding balance of my invoices. They will twist it into a requirement somehow of me getting paid. This is also the reason these guys never sign off on a specification – they don’t want to get tied down to any accountability.

It’s easy to say I’m a fool but seriously it’s a living hell. I don’t understand why life always has to be this ordeal. I write the software, you pay me, it’s simple.


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