From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Permanent High Gas Prices
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2008 06:39:36 -0400
On 11 Jun 2008 21:08:12 -0500, nothermark <email@example.com> wrote:
<excellent post snipped>
>FWIW - I'm not all that sure it's very much cheaper overseas and ship
>here. The idea that factory work is bad and factories are bad has
>been sucessfully propagated by the education business as justification
>for pushing the entire population down the liberal arts major
>education path. It gives justification to stiffing 2/3 of the
>population because they don't have a 4 yr degree. The result is that
>on one hand smart folks often get pushed into bad career paths with
>high education debt loads, on the other they feel justified in
>treating workers as idiots. This futher justifies getting rid of "the
>jobs nobody wants". All this helps push jobs overseas. In effect we
>are doing to ourselves what we fought two wars with England over.
Right on target. Add to that, perhaps the most tragic thing to come out of
modern academia - the almost total destruction of the apprenticeship system.
I served a 5 year engineering apprenticeship and I got a better education than
almost any other engineer I've ever met. My dad served an accounting
apprenticeship to train for his CPA. As I've learned since his death, he was
the smartest tax accountant I've ever met. I've searched in vain for over 5
years to find one with a tenth the tax knowledge he had. My uncle apprenticed
as a pharmacist. He founded and sold a surgical supply company and had
several medical inventions to his name.
During my apprenticeship I went to college half a day and worked half a day
and got paid union scale the whole time. I finished up with NO debt, money in
the bank and several years of actual on-the-job experience in my discipline. I
literally fought off recruiters.
Compare that to a kid graduating today with a 4 year degree. Huge debt, no
experience (other than waiting tables, tending bar or staging frat parties, of
course) and not a clue as to how his discipline actually does things. He'll
spend several years on on-the-job training where he learns how not to screw up
too badly. Or he'll take a management track and never do anything other than
occupy a cube and shuffle paper.
Or look at the trade crafts -what remains of 'em - today. Last week I was
talking to a friend of mine who owns a company that sells HVAC supplies. We
were commiserating about the sad state of the HVAC service industry. He
commented that he didn't know a single person in that town that he'd let work
on his AC. This is the guy who deals with HVAC service "techs" every day.
He also commented that the largest HVAC contractor in town has dozens of
installers but 1, count him, 1 service tech and that he was less than one year
out of high school. Like most areas, high school Vocational Ed (another
casualty of "higher academia") is a thing of the past here so this kid is
little more than a random parts changer.
Another example. During my truck driving training, the AC on the training
truck went down. Being a state-university-sponsored course, the driving
instructor stopped by the local community college to let the HVAC instructor
take a look.
The instructor brought a whole class out. They hooked gauges up and pondered
and muttered and added refrigerant (what the unknowing tech ALWAYS does) but
nothing worked. I finally tapped the instructor on the shoulder and suggested
that he take a look at the orifice tube, that it appeared to be stopped up. I
then walked away cuz I knew that he'd never follow my advice if I was there
watching. Sure enough, they pumped the system down, broke it open and found
the orifice tube full of desiccant crud from the receiver/dryer. That's beyond
This was a community college-level instructor who, according to the driving
instructor, was the hottest-sh*t HVAC tech in the area. I don't think so.
Thing is, I consider myself average to just a little above average in HVAC.
Certainly I am compared to those I learned from 30 and 40 years ago.
The ongoing division of society into good income "knowledge workers" and
barely-above-minimum-wage service workers is very worrying to me. When there
is no one left to make things and then fix 'em when they break, who's going to
buy the intangibles the knowledge workers produce? Chinese?