There are two fairly commonly heard discussions going on up here in Canada at the moment.  One involves “foreign workers”.  It’s a tad complicated and not really relevant here; suffice to say our hard core right wing authoritarian government screwed up, and in fixing it, screwed up further.


But the other involves what we’ve talked about…the use of volunteers, unpaid interns and the like.  I am not opposed to the original concept of an “apprentice”, but it has gone far, far beyond that.


I think the issue is extremely complex, but put perhaps over-simplistically, it seems to me that we are in a free-fall race, in “the west”, to the bottom, to the degree that the more work can be outsourced to cheap labour markets, the lower the standard of pay becomes overall, for most of the middle and lower class, at any rate. 


Corporations are increasingly greedy, often building obscene profits, and “the market” is not working as it is supposed to (although what these people think it is “supposed” to work like is very different from what Adam Smith envisioned…he was opposed to such economic disparity as we now see…we are more in the mode of Ayn Rand, who created a mythical system in which there was, among other things, no end to non-renewable resources, nor any consequences to endless growth).


I am old enough not to worry that much, but I sort of pine for the days when, as a writer, I could simply write and submit an article that, if accepted, paid fairly, and as an illustrator, the same thing.  Even with my work for an animal protection/environmental organization it is my writing skills (including research skills and accumulated knowledge) that is primary, so I’m still a writer, but for a different medium.  


I am not informed enough to know if the low interest rates, thus low investment returns, is also contributing to this inability to earn fair pay for work done, but I know that my S.O., and her grown children, are all working at jobs that they don’t particularly like (I would do what I do without pay; they would not) for a shade over a very inadequate minimum pay.   I can help them out a little, but that should not be necessary, especially since my lady friend is closing in on retirement age (I have passed it, but both have to and choose to continue working…although I don’t think in doing so I’m taking much away from younger generations).  


I have no answers to all this, and I think there are other complications.  I wonder about cost/price of food, for example…it seems inevitable that it will rise increasingly beyond what folks can pay, and that already it is heavily subsidized).  And demand is also inextricably linked to both population growth, and consumerism, which is also promoted, to generate profits, a disproportionate amount of which goes to the top (but even with a more even distribution of the wealth, the best it could do is buy time.


And if you think about it, most of the infrastructure that we use in North America, was built within just the last 120 years, but our dependence upon it means it has to be continually maintained, as well as added to…sewers, roads, bridges and the like all tend to kill us if not kept up, at a time when we demand ever more of the same.   As all this unfolds, climate change happens perhaps faster than we adjust, draining billions from…well…from whomever pays, usually us as taxpayers, whose income remains stagnant or in decline as we struggle not only to survive, but to make it all work.  It makes it hard to earn a living as an artist or illustrator, but also as much else.





Barry Kent MacKay

Bird Artist, Illustrator

Studio: (905)-472-9731
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From: SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Bruce Bartrug
Sent: May-02-14 4:07 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [SCIART] Follow up on work for free writer


The friend I mentioned in a previous thread ("Work for free .....") thanks everyone for their input on his issue.  Here's the upshot:  

"In a friendly, respectful, business-like email, I told the fashion magazine my terms:


"That I would do 12 essays on their topics, due in a week, and would do rewrites as requested. In trade,


--- they give me a contract

--- they give me byline credit on the table of contents

--- they release the rights back to me after 2 years so I can use material in blogs or collected essays

--- they give me 10 copies of the magazine and that I would be willing to pick those up in person.

"And they said no!"

They just blew off a writer who was recently paid a dollar a word for a 3000 word addition to a regional atlas, and who had the first six essays done the day after the proposal was first made.  Can you believe they offered $40 for 12 essays to a glitzy magazine that sells for double digits at the newstand?

I do believe he'll be more inclined to talk dollars right from the start from now on.




Bruce Bartrug
Nobleboro, Maine, USA
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The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.  - Albert Einstein


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