“It's about the passion”

Massachusetts hates self-employed people

January 2013

The first settlers of modern America landed at Plymouth Massachusetts to escape the rigidities of life in Britain. They landed with visions of a new society where the individual could carve out his or her own future. Today we call people like these entrepreneurs. Typically they are self-employed. Yet Massachusetts today has become the home of entrepreneur haters.

It’s a political thing driven by a particular ideology of what constitutes an ordered and top-down controlled society. It’s a society in which people’s place in it is determined and dictated by the State. It’s a form of the very institutionally imposed culture (of 17th Century Britain) from which the American first settlers fled. In the case of Massachusetts it’s the imposition of control over work structures and denial of work options. And with all such dictatorial government models, defiance is met by extreme financial, civil and even criminal sanctions.

Specifically, Massachusetts has imposed anti-independent contractor laws (called ‘misclassification’ laws) on the people of Massachusetts. The laws impose a presumption of (wage-slave) ‘employment’ on all work situations. To be an independent contractor in Massachusetts is near-impossible because the laws effectively prevent an individual obtaining any business clients as an independent contractor.  

What Massachusetts ‘misclassification’ laws say

The law was first introduced in 1990. This first version was ‘tweaked’ in 2004 and created real problems for self-employed people, effectively denying people the right to be their own boss. It presumes people to be employees where a business uses anyone in their ‘usual course of business’. It imposes unusually heavy civil and criminal penalties for breaches.
See here for:

Legal commentators say:
“Massachusetts has one of the most employee-friendly independent contractor laws in the country. The Massachusetts law creates a heavy presumption of employee status and makes it very difficult to establish independent contractor status. Many Massachusetts employers have struggled with its application, a task made more difficult by the state’s aggressive enforcement.” (December 2012, Jackson Lewis lawyers.)

“The Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law, which is more appropriately an “anti-independent contractor law”, is by far the most restrictive in the country and essentially bans many types of ICs from providing services as ICs in the state.” (January 2012, Pepper Hamilton lawyers.)


Take one common example. A business in Massachusetts looking to hire a software designer as an independent contractor must prove that the work done by the designer is not done within the company’s ‘usual course of business’.

Other examples include:

Further ICA commentary

On the surface, the Massachusetts laws may have the simple aim of ensuring that tax is paid, that people are covered for workers’ compensation and so on. But the method used is arrogantly aggressive and gives no recognition to the right of individuals to escape wage-slave employment. It reflects a view that government regulations can only have real effect through ‘employment’. Consequently, it forces on people in Massachusetts the command-and-control employment management structure of businesses. It’s decidedly anti-small business, anti-self-employment and anti-entrepreneurial.

We explain here how this simplistic single solution to regulation is no solution.

This is not to say that the Massachusetts' approach is illegitimate. If the politics of Massachusetts is such that they can impose anti-small business entrepreneurship laws, then the model of business and work that is enforced is one of big business. An economy can do well (presumably) under such a model. But the message for self-employed entrepreneurs is glaring: Leave Massachusetts. Don’t go there. Do what the American first settlers did under the stifling structures of 17th Century Britain—and flee!