If things go as planned and nobody offers me a job in the next few months I will have accomplished a feat that took me the greater part of my life: I will have retired.
I have tried to be retired before but failed miserably: three times I tried to cash in my chips only to be yanked back to the table by job offers that were either too good to pass up or which promised conditions that were very attractive. Mind you, I have seldom worked for money except in the sense that I needed some now and then for necessities. I worked instead for a silly idea, almost comic now in retrospect, that I could make a difference in the world.
I more or less stumbled into wage and hour work while living in New Jersey about thirty years back. I was a probation officer and enjoyed that job but wanted to get into something more in line with my Labor Studies degree and personal inclinations. At the time you could fill out a paper application for federal jobs and I did so one day while waiting in court for one of my darlings to appear on a new charge. Eventually I got called in to the federal building in Newark where a skeptical old guy listened to a digest of my dreams before telling me that I could quit yammering, that he had to hire me because of veteran's preference. On the strength of that endorsement I began the work and have been at it more or less ever since.
Essentially, wage and hour work consists of proving that an employer didn't pay correctly, and getting him to do so. Both halves of this are difficult and experience only means that one can attempt ever more difficult cases, which is to say that it never really gets much easier. Wage work is criminal investigation on a civil law basis. Your offenders are thieves but your tools are fewer and weaker than you would get to use against a pickpocket. But I digress.
For a few years I entertained a pair of fantasies: that wage theft would wither away in time, like Engels' plan for the Capitalist State, and that I could make a significant dent in the problem. Friedrich and I have since been disabused of our illusions: the State is here to stay and the dent I made over the years has kept filling itself in with a putty of new violators. Does this mean I failed, or that all the others doing this work have been defeated? Not really. What it means is that there is too much money to be made from not paying, and not enough risk to hinder the act.
Retirement is a time for taking stock and I intend to do just that here, along with explanation of the system and enough analysis to bring sense to its arrangements. See you at the time clock.