9 thoughts on ““Learning from dirty jobs””

  1. If our politicians spent a few months doing what this guy does, and then thinking about it, as he evidently has done, maybe we’d be in much better shape as a nation.

    Yeah, a ridiculous thought, I know.

  2. Awesome! I say this as one who has castrated goats using both methods. I didn’t use my teeth, though, but rather a special tool called an emasculator to cut the testicles off.

  3. Good stuff. One could not agree more.
    Somehow the notion that one could live a comfortable life without getting one’s hands dirty became a pillar of the baby boomer lifestyle. As they swayed in the hammocks of government, communications, law, the “arts” and academe,they told themselves they were the best and the only. Alas.
    And foreigners are supposed to dig us out of this mess.

  4. Snopercod,

    One of the points I took from the castration discussion was how often the only accurate source of information about how something is done is the practitioner. Rowe contacted people who claimed to know and should have known but who confidently gave him information that was at best incomplete. Only the farmer gave him the full story. Yet the people in govt who want to tell everyone else how to live are even farther removed from the reality of the activities they’re regulating than was the Humane Society in Rowe’s example. In part the govt people’s behavior results from power hunger and arrogance, but it’s also a result of a lack of real-world experience, and from a lack of understanding how little they know (or indeed how little anyone in their position can know).

  5. Jonathan,

    Thank you for the great post. Your reply to Snopercod… “In part the govt people’s behavior results from power hunger and arrogance, but it’s also a result of a lack of real-world experience, and from a lack of understanding how little they know (or indeed how little anyone in their position can know).” …reminded me that many of those that I have interacted with in bureaucracies, are strongly motivated by a strong desire to good.

    And this, is why governments must be limited.

    Because when this desire to do good is coupled with the lack of “real-world experience”, the “lack of understanding”, and the natural, lack of perspective when it comes to the importance of what “we” do, the result is a tyranny of smug, sure, do-gooders.

    These do-gooders are much more dangerous, in my view, than those that are merely evil.

    “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'” – Ronald Reagan

  6. A lot of thoughts after seeing this – first, the classic George McGovern remark when, after leaving the Senate, he tries to run a B & B and said that had he known what he learned in the Senate he would have voted a lot differently.

    Think of the marketplace, bureaucrats and politicians who “know what we need”.

    And the disrespect shown of manual jobs is of course right on.

    Have a friend since childhood who, in his 30s, decided that he should learn a trade (minimum wage jobs by then were getting a bit tiresome I suspect).

    He looked around and decided that everyone needs a plumber. In good times and bad.

    For years he has been doing that, working primarily by himself because California’s Workman’s comp costs are so bad he does better by himself.

    Works primarily in new construction.

    To give you an idea how goo he is — many years ago and one of my offices (only had one at a time ;-) ) – the urinal always flushed like Niagara Falls. Asked him to take a look at it and he discovered that someone…years prior, had put the wrong valve in and once the right valve was installed ran perfectly.

    I guess that could be a thread., too, how so many people think like lemmings. If the part is in there it must be the right part.

    Oh, and he makes about 3x as much as me and as Mike says, is quite happy. He told me that he always like to work with his hands and this is the job.

    And of course, all those producers, entertainers who like to disparage his job – who do they call when they have a problem?

  7. I grew up with people, my father and grandfather, who worked with their hands and were pretty competent at almost anything they tried. My father could have been a good engineer but he left school when he was 15 and was uninterested in books and even newspapers. When I knew him at first, he was in the jukebox business and did all his own repairs and service calls. He had been quite prosperous in the war and shortly after but then the Mafia got interested in jukeboxes plus the quality of shellac records declined so that costs went up. He left the business and he worked at other things and became less prosperous. I was determined to get more education and he was not supportive. He even opposed my plans to go to college.

    However, he taught me to use tools and the basics of working with my hands. Years later, I was surprised to find that only one professor, and he was a practicing surgeon not an academic, ever asked me if I used tools or played a musical instrument. Many surgeons I met were nearly hopeless with tools and sports and it showed.

    The “Dirty Jobs” guy wrote a letter to Romney and was surprised that Romney read it and even quoted it. After that, he campaigned with Romney. When Romney was governor, he worked a day at most of the jobs of state employees, including working on a trash truck.

    The governing class we have now is the worst in our history. One small reason is that so few have ever worked at anything but government.

  8. Until about 10 years ago, for some years I worked with a fellow I’d call a master mechanic – retired – quite a few stories, not the least working on pit crews during the heyday of drivers like Moss, Clark, Gurney…

    He taught me a lot – and i wish I could remember half of what he was trying to teach me.

    On tools – one of the crudest – a prybar – in all its sizes – I have learned to use judiciously. Goes back to Archimedes.

    But still, such things came naturally to him while for me learning new things is like pounding it into my head.

    It is amazing the people who are white collar workers who really do near meaningless jobs – all the while looking down on people who can actually create – and fix – things with their hands – and minds.

    And I can see where being adept at tools – whether mechanic or carpentry – could help one be a better surgeon. There usually isn’t 1 and only 1 tool for a job but some good – and some better, for a particular surgical job, isn’t there?

  9. I think it is a handicap for women surgeons. The skills of sewing might substitute but how many women sew now ? I don’t mean to sound sexist but I have seen no really skilled women surgeons. They may be getting better recently and my experience is a decade or two out of date. Several of my former students have gone into surgery but I haven’t had the chance to observe them.

    Too many young doctors went into surgery as an ego thing although that is declining. General surgery is having trouble attracting top students now because of the work hours. I knew a general surgeon many years ago whose relaxation was driving a semi-trailer truck. He owned several and used to drive them long distance hauling stuff between cities. My partner’s son worked for him as a helper summers and is now a surgeon, having inherited his father’s practice. The guy had a PhD in pharmacology, besides his MD, and just liked the truck driver lifestyle. He kept a small refrigerator in his office with beer for after office hours. He practiced in Oxnard, north of Los Angeles and was the busiest surgeon in town. He leased the other trucks he owned out to other drivers.

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