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  • Source of America’s Problems Discovered

    Posted by David Foster on December 12th, 2013 (All posts by )

    …quite a few of them, anyway

    The above poster was apparently often found on the walls of high-school guidance counselors in the 1970s. So says Mike Rowe, who has proposed an improved version of the poster. Link.

    via American Digest

     

    16 Responses to “Source of America’s Problems Discovered”

    1. Bill Brandt Says:

      It is too bad so many look down on the trades. Have a friend since childhood – be decided at age 30 he had better get a trade – learned to be a plumber – and a very good one. Works by himself mainly on construction – sets his own hours makes 6 figures.

      The country doesn’t need more liberal arts grads, that is for sure.

    2. Sgt. Mom Says:

      It was kind of sad, really – I knew so many kids in high school who were not the least bit interested in college. They would have been so much better off in some kind of apprentice training in something that really interested them, over and above things like auto, metal and wood-shop. They would have graduated with a marketable and useful skill instead of being bored to tears or being made to feel a failure for not being interested in academics.

    3. David Foster Says:

      This poster is a remarkable encapsulation of bad ideas and bad advice:

      1) If you do thought-work, you don’t have to work hard.

      2) It’s better to focus on being smart than on working hard. (Actually, researcher Carol Dweck has found that when kids are given positive feedback of the “oh, you must be smart” variety, subsequent performance is inferior to when they are given feedback of the “you must have worked really hard on this” variety)

      3) If you don’t have a college degree, your life will be dreary and depressing

      So, go to college but don’t bother working hard enough to actually *learn* anything..your degree alone will set you above the hard-working proles.

    4. MikeK Says:

      My nephew was doing not well in college and quit to join the Marines. He was a helicopter mechanic for most of his four years and did very well. If I had been him,I might have gone to OCS or Annapolis. He came home, finished college and then took an apprenticeship from the elevator repair union, what ever it is called. He finished that and worked as an elevator installer and repairman. He was promoted into a management job but is thinking of going back into the field because ir is more money.

      If only Democrats supported apprenticeships in trade unions. I cannot understand the disdain so many lefties feel toward the trades. You could see it with Obama and Joe the plumber.

    5. Dan from Madison Says:

      I have said it before here, a well trained HVAC mechanic can basically name his price and choose wherever they would like to live. It gets even better for heavy commercial and industrial mechanics and commercial refrigeration guys.

    6. Bill Brandt Says:

      A lot of the techs in the MB dealership are guys in their 20s-30s. In the “old days” (up through the 70s) those who worked on Mercedes were named Hans or Dieter and middle aged. At the dealership in my area, one of them currently was on the 7 member team that took the gold in Daimler’s biannual world-wide competition. He has to be in his late 30s and is the shop foreman. Virtually all on the floor are in their 20s – and there is even a woman or 2.

      At a talk he gave he was giving some of their sample questions – all relating to electronics – not one having to do with the mechanical aspects. Although I am sure that they had some.

      Networks , electronic components like igniters and connectivity is what keeps a modern car running.

      I think most of these “regular” techs are earning $70-$80K.

      If I were in my 20s today I would be an HVAC tech – aircraft A & P, car mechanic….

      A bit of irony knowing with time what you would have done different…

      The only downside to some of these trades is that they get to work outside a warm/cool building.

      And in the Midwest/East right now it is pretty miserable. But then I doubt there are many HVAC guys working outside this time of the year. And garages have basic heaters, if not air conditioners.

    7. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Where Factory Apprenticeship Is Latest Model From Germany
      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/01/business/where-factory-apprenticeship-is-latest-model-from-germany.html

      “For Joerg Klisch, hiring the first 60 workers to build heavy engines at his company’s new factory in South Carolina was easy. Finding the next 60 was not so simple. …

      “So Mr. Klisch did what he would have done back home in Germany: He set out to train them himself. …

      “Inspired by a partnership between schools and industry that is seen as a key to Germany’s advanced industrial capability and relatively low unemployment rate, projects like the one at Tognum are practically unheard-of in the United States. …

      “But experts in government and academia … say apprenticeships are a desperately needed option for younger workers who want decent-paying jobs, or increasingly, any job at all. And without more programs like the one at Tognum, they maintain, the nascent recovery in American manufacturing will run out of steam for lack of qualified workers.”

    8. Lexington Green Says:

      Another thing that is rarely discussed is the major changes in the quality of life and work for tradesmen.

      50 years ago those were dirty, unhealthy and dangerous jobs, compared to office-type jobs.

      Now, workplace health and safety for such jobs is immensely better that it was.

      And as much as many here would hate to admit it, OSHA was a big part of that. As Michael Barone put it, the trade unions pushed hard for OSHA knowing that it would, to a large degree, make them irrelevant, and they did it anyway.

      The health risks of sedentary keyboard tapping in a cubicle are probably worse than being in a skilled trade now.

      The story has been flipped, but no one talks about it.

      Further, the trade unions have been increasingly irrelevant for many years. If they aggressively created and promoted education in the relevant skills, in exchange for, say, a commitment of ten years of union membership and union dues payment, they would build a huge new base of support as well as doing some genuine good. But there is no creative thinking going on there. They would rather just hope that thuggish behavior will get a few more pennies, and pay no attention to their own long term viability and relevance.

    9. Jonathan Says:

      The health risks of sedentary keyboard tapping in a cubicle are probably worse than being in a skilled trade now.

      Also, for men in particular, the career risks of working in offices that are often socially controlled by females and policed by politically correct bureaucracies are higher than ever.

    10. Gringo Says:

      One irony of the poster is the assumption that skilled tradesmen don’t have to think, and that college graduates do think. The situation is not at clear-cut as the poster assumes.

      In my HOA we have dealt with a number of plumbing problems. My assessment of plumbing work is that while a lot of it is repetitious stuff that doesn’t require a lot of mind work- which even I can do with a little practice- plumbing work can also require problem solving that approaches engineer level. Try to figure out a spaghetti-like mishmash of boiler room pipes. Not easy, especially if the pipes have been added to over the years, resulting in a jerry-built mishmash. Not all plumbers can handle such complexity, but some can.

      By contrast, consider the educated fools who did this: “fifth grader suspended for shooting imaginary arrow.” Not too much thinking went on there, in spite of all those highfalutin’ degrees.

    11. setbit Says:

      There’s an extended interview with Mike Rowe on this topic here: http://reason.com/reasontv/2013/12/13/dirty-jobs-mike-rowe-on-the-high-cost-of.

      I haven’t watched the whole thing, but what I’ve seen of it so far is excellent.

    12. David Foster Says:

      The harm to those people steered to college, when they would have been better off in the trades, is only a portion of the harm done by the mentality encapsulated in this poster. Sending the message that a university education was an EASY (and basically guaranteed) way to make $$$ was extremely harmful to the universities themselves. And the focus on “smartness,” uncoupled to effort or results, has led to a class of people who are not very impressive, but are quite self-impressed. The Obama campaign’s talk about “smart power,” “smart diplomacy,” etc, was calculated to appeal to people of this type, and appeal it did.

    13. Bill Brandt Says:

      Gringo – I’ll tell you about a problem my friend the plumber solved. For many years the urinal in our office flushed with such force that sometimes you’d get hit.

      For years plumbers would come in, look at the valve controlling the flow, and replace it.

      My friend started from ground zero – discovered that someone in the distant past – the original sinner? – put the wrong valve in.

      Problem solved after 20 years.

    14. MikeK Says:

      ” But there is no creative thinking going on there. They would rather just hope that thuggish behavior will get a few more pennies, and pay no attention to their own long term viability and relevance.”

      They may be facing a member revolt in Seattle over the strike vote at Boeing. There is a lot of angst that Boeing could leave, at least in part. South Carolina is calling in spite of Obama’s NLRB. Michigan is even a right-to-work state now.

    15. Joe Wooten Says:

      Mike did an interview on Glen Bck’s show recently. It was very good and Glen ended up making a big donation to his efforts.

      He also has a good website:

      http://profoundlydisconnected.com/

    16. Jimmy J. Says:

      The idea that a college degree lead to much better economic outcomes was true in the past. However, sometime in the 60s schools quit strict grading, promoted soft sciences, and became bastions of post-modern theory. Then the racket of loaning students money for college expenses went mainstream in the 90s, greatly increasing enrollments and college budgets. Colleges became a growth industry and their prices skyrocketed. People who get degrees in STEM are still doing okay. English lit, African-American studies, and other such graduates have little chance of doing more than flipping burgers unless they have connections. It is an unsustainable bubble and too many young people have begun their lives deeply in debt and nearly unemployable. In fact it is really as big a con as Obamacare – just not as immediately damaging to the nation.

      There are industries that produce wealth – Mining, oil/gas production, agriculture in all its forms, fishing, lumbering, hydro-electric power, construction, and manufacturing. The U.S. has been putting up roadblocks to all those activities since the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1966. We are not presently anywhere near our capacity in any of those industries because they have been under continuous attack by environmentalists. People claim that our manufacturing was shipped overseas because of high wages. Some of that was true, but mostly it became harder and harder to build a factory in this country.

      Most of the “dirty jobs” Mike Rowe has engaged in are in those industries. We need a revival of those industries and the jobs they offer. The banking, investment, retail, transportation, and such are the means by which the wealth created is spread around in the economy. Every good paying job in a community will spawn 4-5 jobs in support. That is the way we grow the economic pie and raise everyone’s living standards.