Bjelkeman's travel notes

Travels with the cloud in my pocket.

Governments slip even further behind the mobile worker, everybody looses

My colleague Mark Charmer wrote a nice piece about some things that will crystallise in 2010.

I wanted to add one to that.

6. Governments slip even further behind the mobile worker, everybody looses

I work for an open source foundation, based in one European country. I live and pay taxes in another European country. I spend 1/6 of the working year in an Asia country. The EU is supposed to allow freedom of movement for workers, but this is so last century’s model it is laughable. If you are supposed to benefit from any of this freedom of movement you are supposed to actually move, physically.

They really don’t have any way to deal with workers who move around at will. Production is assumed to be attached to the production line or the office. But with the internet offering more and more freedom for the best paid workers, the knowledge worker, the knowledge worker is slowly slipping through the fingers of the government.

You can’t really be employed in one EU country, and live in another, with the standard employment benefits you would expect, like pension schemes, seamless healthcare benefits, kids schools, without running your own company and contracting across the boarders, with the appropriate extra overhead. We are twelve employees, four work in the country of the registered office, the other 8 all have independent companies in different countries.

Europe, Japan, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, do not allow freedom of movement of workers, but they all allow anyone to travel as a tourist between these countries. To what gain do they stop workers moving freely? It inhibits innovation. It stops the most interesting entrepreneurs to move about and do the interesting jobs where they are best done. At the same time they can’t stop this from happening totally. I have lived in the USA, whilst being employed in the UK and paying tax there. Now I live in Sweden, being employed in the Netherlands and working in India. If we got rid of the stupid barriers for knowledge workers we would have more innovation and more business started across borders. And everybody would gain. But no. Visa requirements and idiotic border policies are everywhere.

Oh well. I am off to hang out in Bengaluru this weeked. In between the Skype conferences, stretching over five countries and ten locations… for free*.

* Well, the marginal cost is free. I have to have a laptop and internet connection, but I couldn’t do my job without and the cost of these are easily offset against earnings.


Filed under: ITC technology, Social and economic policy

About Bjelkeman

Co-director: Akvo Foundation

+46-8-626 7609

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