It’s Not a Job, it’s a Lifestyle (Ep. 311)

All jobs are essential, but some jobs are more essential than others. And it remains a bit of a mystery as to why so many of the most essential jobs in America are so often taken for granted by so many. Even more mysterious, is why so many of those essential jobs are affirmatively disparaged and routinely attacked by those in positions of power. I refer here, once again, to the plight of the independent trucker, especially in California, and to the politicians seeking to destroy their businesses by eliminating their ability to freelance.

My guest today is Tom Odom, a fiercely independent trucker who relocated his small but very successful business from California to Tennessee. Why? Because California bureaucrats are hell-bent on a) defining him as a victim, and b) making it financially impossible for him to work in his chosen field as anything but an employee. Part of my conversation with Tom concerns a disastrous bit of legislation called California AB-5, and another terrible idea currently stinking up the halls of Congress called The Pro Act. We discuss the implications of both on millions of freelancers in multiple industries, but mostly on the million or so independent truckers who would prefer to remain independent. Most of what we talk about though, is the appeal of driving a truck 120,000 miles every year, the things you see on the backroads of America, and the incredible opportunities for those individuals cut out for that kind of lifestyle.

Also – there’s lots of talk in this conversation about unions, and I say some things that will almost certainly be taken out of context. To be as preemptively clear as I can be on the matter, I have no objection to trade unions, and I absolutely recognize the rights of workers to organize. As many of you know, I’m in a union myself, and many of our scholarship recipients – plumbers and iron workers in particular – have gone on to work in unions, and they have nothing but good things to say about the experience. What I object to, are policies that promote the right to unionize, at the expense of those who wish to freelance. And what I really object to, is the binary default mechanism that leads many union workers to insist (demand, really) that my support be applied equally to all unions – public or private. This insistence on complete solidarity is, in my opinion, part of the reason union membership has fallen over the years. Reasonable people don’t wish to be called “anti-worker” or “pro-greed,” or some other nonsense, simply because they object to certain actions taken by certain unions in certain circumstances. Unions are like corporations – some are better than others. Some not only benefit their members they make the world a better and safer place for everyone. But some do not. It makes no sense at all to talk as if they’re all the same. And so, I don’t.

As you’ll see, his face should probably be next to the definition of “independent trucker.” Our entire conversation is here. It’s a good one.
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