Safe From a Nasty Boss

Nathan Otto
4 min readMar 19, 2021


Angry woman boss berating her employees in a meeting

No one should have a boss. If I have a boss, then, by default under our current system, she’s thinking about her business objectives, how she looks, what’s important to her — not much about what’s important to me. Then, here’s the shitty part, my survival depends on her decisions. Decisions don’t include me and my needs.

Under this system, ordinary business decisions that ought to be quite minor, like whether to close a restaurant, whether to hire a new account manager, or whether to buy a new piece of equipment, become life-or-death, or near enough, for someone. That’s ridiculous! Completely mad, as a setup. Why would we ever do things that way?

When a job is survival, we are putting too much on it. In general, a job and survival ought to be de-linked. Linking jobs and survival makes for big fights that we no longer need.

Everyone should be able to survive comfortably based on what we’ve figured out already. We have figured out how to grow enough food, build enough shelter, provide basic health care. What we haven’t figured out yet is governance, policies, distribution.

Most people who advocate for a universal basic income and accessible quality health care do so because “it’s the right thing to do”. It may be the right thing to do, but most of us, especially with regard to public policy, don’t do things because they are the right thing to do. We do things for other reasons.

The better reason to make a world where everyone survives comfortably between jobs is that, in that world, everyone does what they want to do to make their lives better without the threat of death if they get it wrong. No bosses! Under our current system, if your boss tries to make you do something that’s a better choice than dire poverty, you are probably going to do it.

But if your boss has to be, instead of better than death, better than comfortable survival, then suddenly you “don’t have a boss”. You don’t have someone in your life that potentially threatens your survival by not continuing to pay you.

Fine, you say, everyone would just stay home and comfortably survive.

Really? That’s what you think would happen? Well, would you do that? Become one with the couch? Maybe. If you were sick, or needed time to reflect on your next project, or you were part of the less than 1% of people who just don’t want to do anything. Anyway, the evidence starting to come in from the Stockton experiment and other tests of UBI-like systems shows that people produce more, not less. Look it up in The Economist and other media.

Here’s what would really happen: the entire world, including you and me, would benefit from billions of humans making smart decisions liberated from fear, based on what they think is best for themselves and the world. People, broadly speaking, would figure out where their gifts are strongest, how their interests are best expressed, and go do that. People would do a lot of valuable stuff without being paid — even more than they do now. Because they would have freedom to do work that is dignified, meaningful, and balanced with the rest of life. Without “bosses”.

All of that intelligence would be unleashed, if nobody had a “boss”, if nobody felt that they had no choice but to suck it up, eat dirt, and show up to a shit job they hated while putting up with a crap boss or system that was mean, stingy, unfair or overly demanding.

And, in a nod to the bottom billion, in the poorer parts of the world the “abusive boss” is the man who comes home from his shit job and beats his woman. Places like Nicaragua show that type of workplace oppression can be reduced sharply.

Everyone would be much, much happier and richer in world with more intelligent options available to everyone, where masses of talent and contribution and creativity were not trapped in the vice of job-vs.-survival.

The way things work now, all of that potential brilliant, careful decision-making is utterly wasted. Only those considered today the “lucky few” have the “luxury” of deciding how to spend their time. Deciding how to spend one’s time and effort should not get trapped in life-or-death. It’s been that way for time immemorial, but it’s not necessary anymore! And it is a huge waste.

There might still be employment pain. Get fired, leave an abusive home, sure, take a hit in lifestyle. But no need to suffer death-like experiences of extreme stress! Get fired, or quit, then take a minute to figure out what’s next. Without starving, going homeless, going without medical care, without police protection, etc.

That’s the real reason to figure out universal income, human rights, accessible health care. We need a social safety net so that we are not wasting the incredible talent pool called humanity. Let’s make being human safe. At least from nasty bosses. We will all be a lot richer.



Nathan Otto

Awaken the incredible value and power of mastering your attention to create a life you love and a world that works for everyone.