Consider: Why does any business hire an employee? It happens based on the belief that the business will make more money with the employee than without it. The business pays you, you do work, and, as a result, there are greater returns coming in than there would otherwise be.

But think through what this means. It means you have to add more value than you take out. For every dollar you earn, you have to make it possible for the business to earn a dollar plus something extra. This task is not easy. Businesses have costs to cover in addition to your salary. For example, government mandates that businesses be insured. You have to be trained. There could be healthcare costs, too. There are uncertainties to deal with. All of these add to the burden that you place on the business, which adds to the costs of hiring you.

This is from Jeffrey A. Tucker, “Advice to Young, Unemployed Workers,” The Freeman, May 16, 2013. Somehow I missed the piece when it came out last year. It’s well worth reading, not just for young, unemployed workers but also for everyone, young or old, employed or not.

The Justice Trap

Here’s another of my favorite passages from Tucker:

First, you will discover that people in general are extremely reluctant to admit error. People will defend an opinion or an action until the end, even if every bit of logic and evidence runs contrary. Sincere apologies and genuine admissions of error and wrongdoing are the rarest things in this world. There is no point at all in demanding apologies or in becoming resentful when they fail to appear. Just move on. Neither should you expect to always be rewarded for being right. On the contrary, people will often resent you and try to take you down.

How do you deal with this problem? Don’t get frustrated. Don’t seek justice. Accept the reality for what it is. If a job isn’t working out, move on. If you get fired, don’t seek vengeance. Anger and resentment accomplish absolutely nothing. Keep your eye on the goal of personal and professional advancement, and think of anything that interrupts your path as a diversion and a distraction.

Years ago, I came to the conclusion that seeking justice is usually not worthwhile no matter how unjustly you think you were treated. It can take your energy and take you away from achieving your other goals. Here’s what I wrote recently, in my Regulation piece on Walter Oi, about seeking justice:

He [Walter Oi] then went on to tell me that, yes, the Japanese-Americans were treated unjustly, but that the best thing to do for them was to move on and not create a new government program.

That comment has not only stuck with me, but also helped reinforce a belief I had then embraced and still believe today. I have always been a strong believer in justice. At the same time, I’ve seen many people get stuck in what I call “the justice trap.” They were badly treated, they want justice, and they should get justice. But the search for justice, when they don’t get it quickly (which they often don’t), can make them bitter and lead them to play “Ain’t it awful,” not moving on with their lives. One thing I like about watching professional sports is seeing how quickly players move on when they get a bad call from a referee, and how effective they are when they do move on. Seeing someone who was treated very unjustly as an innocent child but who did not hold a strong grudge reinforced my belief that the justice trap should be avoided.