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.
It's a very sad story, and it is due, in part but not entirely, to the Obama economy in my opinion because nobody is hiring anybody right now, and neither are we:
The belief that education is both good in and of itself, and also, is practically a guarantee of a good job, was never entirely true. But now it's clearly false in many fields, and insiders who blind themselves to this reality are doing naive kids a great wrong. Increasingly, getting the extra degree may actually decrease peoples' chances of finding jobs, partners, and satisfying lives, because of the debt and time that are poured into them.
What we really need around here are more good plumbers and electricians who do not abuse drugs. We have plenty of skilled, reliable masons, all clean-cut Mexican immigrants. In today's economic mess, it's time for people to get creative and to start their own businesses. Necessity is the mother of invention. Just make sure you don't hire more than 49 employees (same as they do in France). After 49, you get in deep government issues which nobody can comprehend but you just know you will make some error somewhere.
Is the big and successful corporation its own master, then? Not quite.
To begin with, it is severely circumscribed by the government. as Professor Sumner H. Slichter has said, one of the basic changes which have taken place in America during the last fifty years [1900-1950] is "the transformation of the economy form one of free enterprise to one of government guided enterprise....The new economy," says Dr. Slichter, "operates on the principle that fundamental decisions on who has what incomes, what is produced, and at what prices it s sold are determined by public policies." The government interferes with the course of prices by putting a floor under some, a ceiling over others; it regulates in numerous ways how goods may be advertised and sold, what businesses a corporation may be allowed to buy into, and how employees may be paid; in some states with Fair Employment laws it even has a say about who may be hired. "When a piece of business comes up,' writes Ed Tyng, "the first question is not likely to be 'Should we do it?' but 'Can we do it, under existing rules and regulations?' "He is writing about banking, but what he says hold good for many another business. Furthermore, in the collection of corporate income taxes, withholding taxes, social security taxes, and other levies the government imposes upon the corporation an intricate series of bookkeeping tasks which in some cases may be as onerous as those it must undertake on its own behalf. Thus the choices of enterprise are both hedged in and complicated by government.
This from a book published in 1950. I was just listening to Charles Krauthammer commenting on Obama's inaugural speech. Apparently, this is Obama's and the Progressives' idea of progressing into the future. We never whole shook it off but growing up in the 1970s, I did not get a good impression of "government guided enterprise".
What he doesn't tell you is that "government guided enterprise" (AKA cronyism, crony-capitalism, and fascism) has a long and dismal track record. It was the rule throughout Latin America until freer-trade blocs like NAFTA and Mercosur started popping up relatively recently, and it's still how things are done in most of the world's poor countries -- including places like Russia and China that have the size and resources to easily become rich countries, if cronyism weren't holding them back, and South Korea and Japan which were so badly run before it that cronyism was an improvement for them.
Visit any of these places or talk to people who've moved from there, and you'll learn things the president isn't telling. For one thing, the police aren't as friendly there, because the economy is so hosed they have to live on bribes. Then there's inflation, in the tens or hundreds of percent per month.
What "government guided capitalism" really means is that the president has a bad case of envy -- so nobody in that country except him and his friends will be allowed to make any money and keep it. Only someone who truly believes in free lunches would ever want to live in a place like that.
I got a good liberal arts degree from a small university in S.C. and never regretted it; my life has been much enriched by what I learned there. But when it came time to earn a living I went to a trade school run by a labor union which took a look at the demographics of their membership, decided that soon all the members would die from old age and so formed a training program to inject new blood into the organization. They even paid you to go to the school and promised you a job when you got out. Consequently I earned a good wage for 30 years, have a good pension, and have never had to call a repairman in my life. There are jobs out there if you want to learn how to weld; you can read Plato on your lunchhour.
I had thoughts early in my aviation career, of welding as a specialty, chose no, no glamor. Big mistake, that I have known for a long time. Another field is NDT which I also toyed with. There are many essential tasks out there without which the world wouldn't rotate so well, if at all. Trouble is, from a personal perspective, is that many who call themselves something, really aren't. Plumber, electrician, roofer, A&P, etc. Most I see have a half assed understanding of the trade then strike out on their own with that half assed knowledge. I could go on, thinking especially of our politicians.
There is also a very substantial oversupply in STEM graduates, and this oversupply goes back at least to the 1960s.
Perhaps as many as half of all BS engineering graduates do not work in engineering, and this again goes back to the 1950s. Most of those leaving engineering probably work in technical sales, but others use the degree to get into business, law and medical schools. A few flip burgers and drive cabs. Physics PhD cab drivers were once quite common.
It's even worse in our graduate schools. Even in elite programs like MIT and Berkeley, the graduate student body is half foreign, and at second rate schools it is three-quarters foreign. Almost all those foreign PhDs go home, although quite a few manage to stay. Eleven of 21 faculty in my former department are foreign born and educated, although almost all have American PhDs.
So, much of what we do as STEM educators is to train other countries STEM professionals or prepare students for non-STEM careers. The reality is that our economy does not need them. And if we were ever to get significant numbers of women and minorities to complete STEM degrees, unemployment in those fields would rival that of unskilled laborers.
If our state legislators actually paid attention to what goes on in our STEM programs at public universities, they would shut most of them down. I'm glad I retired with my exorbitant pension before they found out what I was doing all those years.