We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Tuesday, July 10. 2012
I have told you several times in the past about my local master gunsmith, Italy-trained in some of the finest hand-made gun shops in the world, who put up ads in our high school for seven years inviting applicants to apprentice with him. He never got a single reply, and gave up the effort.
When he died a few years ago, alas (when he was charging $175/hr for labor and had more work than he could handle), all of his skills in wood and in machining gun parts died with him. A damn shame. An expert shot with rifle and shotgun, too.
Mike Rowe claims that people look down on people who know how to do real things. Do they really? Most people seem to admire or envy people who can do real things. Nobody admires people because they can use Powerpoint. Anyway, this via Eratosthenes:
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Skills like those of your gunsmith are not learned in college, probably not even in junior/community college, but by hands-on experience. However, it is drummed into kids today that a college education is THE key to success. One size fits all: get a degree, grab the brass ring of life. So do some (maybe liberal?) people look down on others who know how to do "real" things? Yeah, they do. It starts at the top with the President. I'll bet you Barry couldn't fix a broken toilet to save his life. Do I respect(!) my plumber and the cabinet maker who built me the desk of my dreams without having a PhD in their trades? You betcha!
I can use Powerpoint. It's the comic book of business.
I had an acquaintance recently call me out as an "elite" because of my education and views on economics and politics. She said I probably didn't understand the problems of people who cut my lawn, clean toilets, fix my engine and do the things I don't want to do.
I laughed. I told her I cut my own lawn, I change my own oil and spark plugs (honestly, anyone can do this), I was a busboy, a car wash attendant, and a camp counselor during college. I did odd jobs and babysitting during high school. My mother was a waitress, until she opened her own daycare center (which she managed poorly and into bankruptcy).
I've renovated 2 rooms in my current house, and 2 in my old house. I helped out when we renovated the boys' bathroom because I wanted to learn some everyday plumbing and electrical.
I respect and admire people who can actually build and create 'stuff'. I want to learn how to do more with my hands than I am capable now. Nothing is more impressive than watching a craftsman at work.
On a similar note to Agent Cooper's - my son's laptop had its screen crack. The computer is fine, but you can't see a thing on it.
I read up on replacing a laptop screen, watched 2 videos, and realized I can probably do it myself. Sending it out to be done would cost $350 - may as well buy a new laptop.
When talking to a computer repair shop (which wouldn't do the work), the fellow lamented "kids today don't want to take the chance of breaking something. When I was younger, I would've tried to replace it myself. If I failed, at least I tried and learned something in the process."
I remember trying to rebuild my broken snowmobile while I was in high school. I finally got the engine running again, and thought I was home free. Replacing the seat, hood, and skis wasn't something I could do cheaply or by myself. In the end, I sold it for scrap. But I loved learning how to get that engine running again.
Demand creates supply. If Americans won't take jobs that involve actual work, immigrants — legal or otherwise — will.
That's fine as far as it goes, but the problem is that the Americans who won't work will vote to tax money away from the workers who do, which will destroy the incentive for anyone to work.
The fault lines in America are underfoot and rumbling.
I think Mike Rowe is correct. Who is jealous of a plumber? Sure, most would love to make the money a plumber makes, but for damn sure most would look down on the dirty work it takes to make that money.
Actually, same is true for most trades...electrical, dry wall, bricklayer, etc.
The gunsmith you mentioned is actually a 'cool' trade. What young man wouldn't love to work on guns for a living? I would say someone who makes knives falls into the same category...but if you watch 'Dirty Jobs' once in awhile, you'll see what Mike Rowe is talking about. He means dirty, disgusting jobs that need to be done, that most people just won't do. Or look down upon those who work those jobs as minimum-wage losers (when in reality some of these jobs are very high-paying).
Taught myself laptops as a hobby, via trial and error. Have probably replaced 25 lcd's. Like everything else, it's easy when you know how. If you haven't learned how, better have a step-by-step pictorial guide.
I lI've in the San Francisco bay area. A few years back there was an artidle in the local paPer about welding jobs paying 6 figures were going begging despite the manufacturers and union doing aggressive outreach to get people to enter the free union-sponsored trainIng program. No takers. The reason most cOmmonly given by young people and their parents was that they wanted their kids to go to college.
Rowe is correct. Many may be envious but few would wish such work on there children. This is not new but a sentiment that waxes and wanes throughout history.
For example : The question being propounded, What is the value of the combined services to man of Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Disraeli, as compared with those of Sir Henry Bessemer? ninety-nine out of a hundred men of sound judgment would doubtless say, " The value of the services of the two statesmen is quite unimportant, while the value of the services of Mr. Bessemer is enormous, incalculable." But how many of these ninety-nine men of sound judgment could resist the fascination of the applause accorded to the statesmen ? How many of them would have the moral courage to educate their sons for the career of Mr. Bessemer instead of for the career of Mr. Disraeli or of Mr. Gladstone?* Not many in the present state of public sentiment. It will be a great day for man, the day that ushers in the dawn of more sober views
of life, the day that inaugurates the era of the mastership of things in the place of the mastership of words.
Charles H. Ham, Mind and Hand: manual training, the chief factor in education (1886)
A book written to advocate for manual training in education. It contains a great discussion of the utility of training in the useful arts. Also, a survey of the disdain afforded them throughout history.
Perhaps it's even worse than "look down upon"?
I design and manufacture products for a living, do my own plumbing, electrical, mechanical, machining, welding, construction etc. No college degree. One day, an acquaintance who worked as an accountant at a medical college and consorted with academic types, stopped by just as I was lifting the engine out of my car to replace the clutch. He was always amazed to see the sorts of things I do. Several weeks later, he related that over lunch he’d told his co-workers at the college about what he’d seen me doing. I asked “so, did they laugh about the ‘hillbilly’?”
He replied, dead serious, “No. They’re afraid of you”.
My husband and I sat around discussing this very subject not long ago, and concluded that a good portion of the general populace would be screwed if they were suddenly forced to face life by their wits and skills alone. I fear we are getting close to something very large and economically devastating that will make this not just a thought but a reality.
In imagining us facing just that situation, we tallied up our collective skillsets: my husband is generally handy and knows
how to swing a hammer, and put up drywall. He has done some subsistence farming, general contracting, and can hunt/fish and keep the 4x4 running. He took a horticulture and a basic nursing course in vocational school. They were times when he had to live by his wits.
My family grew much of our food and raised livestock for our own consumption. My dad taught me to fish, and deal with the animals; my mother taught me to sew, cook, work the gardens and put up jams and preserves. I still cook and bake from scratch and still sew. I have learned to draft and grade my own patterns.
Together my husband and I designed and made a tenting enclosure for the back of our 4x4, along with clothing saddlebags that hitch to the interior. We used them when we drove cross country over 7 weeks and still do on our camping trips in the desert.
While our existence would certainly be less than ideal, I'd like to think we'd be able to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table and clothes on our back.