The American Dream of a Discount

Remember how Trump said he’d waive his salary as United States President? (and how he’s not doing that actually.)

Remember how Ivanka said she’d just volunteer as an advisor to Daddy Trump? (but she’d totally follow the ethics rules, wink wink.)

Here’s the thing. Americans (maybe it’s universal?) have this misled idea that if you’re getting something for free, you’re getting a deal. The President doesn’t want his salary? How altruistic! His daughter doesn’t need paid to whisper in his ear? She must genuinely want to help!

No. Someone wants to work for free? You’re not getting a deal, you’re getting took.

Y’all are familiar with the fact that I’m a freelancer. A contractor. Contractors work with other contractors, and I am here to tell you that if a contractor says, “Oh I’ll waive my fee because Reason,” I am walking the other way like my shoes are on fire.

Money is accountability. Money tells me you’re taking this job seriously. Money tells me you’re treating me like a client that you are prioritizing. Money is the part of the contract that gives me the confidence to speak up when you aren’t delivering on the agreement.

I don’t want the friends and family discount. If I’m working with you, I want you to deliver the job that I know you’re capable of. I don’t want to be something you’re comfortable putting lower on your priority list because you’re giving me a deal.

This is what Trump and Ivanka are trying to sell you. The American Dream of a Discount. What’s happening is that their accountability to you goes bye-bye. This Politico article (in response to the fanfare about Trump supposedly refusing a salary) is a well-crafted explanation of why the accountability of a salary is important.

You have to have a salary in place to make it clear who the boss is. If someone doesn’t want to take a salary, it’s not because they’re generous. It’s because they don’t want you to be the boss.