Photo: Associated Press

Photo: Associated Press

Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 11/13/15


During Tuesday’s GOP debate in Milwaukee, Marco Rubio got off one of the more enthusiastically received lines of the night. He said,

For the life of me, I don’t know why we have stigmatized vocational education. Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.”

(Let’s give a pass on the grammatical error. I believe that he knows that he meant “fewer” philosophers.)

The left has been busy “fact checking” Rubio’s assertion – saying in various ways something to the effect that a tenured philosophy professor at a good university makes two or three times what a welder makes.

Maybe so.

But there are probably about a hundred thousand welders spread out across the American continent earning a good living. The entire cohort of tenured philosophy professors, on the other hand, could likely be accommodated in a good sized hotel ballroom somewhere.

The entirely valid point that Rubio was making is that our national educational goal should be to create self-sufficient, wage-earning, tax-paying adults. To meet this goal, it means that our children will, at the conclusion of their adolescence, need to be capable of doing something or creating something for which their fellow citizens are willing to voluntarily pay.

Evidence suggests that some of our elite four year universities might not be getting us to this goal. As we hear more and more of college graduates unable to find work commensurate with their expensive degrees – and thus back living at home with mommy and daddy – we begin to legitimately examine what has, over a period of several decades, become dogma regarding college.

We wonder about the priorities of college administrators that busy themselves creating “safe zones,” so that our precious flowers won’t suffer the risk of being offended by something that someone says. (Whatever happened to, “Sticks and stones…?”) Never mind that there aren’t any “safe zones” in the rough and tumble world for which these students are purportedly being prepared.

Very nearly every high school graduate needs some sort of post-secondary education. But that does not mean that every high school graduate needs a four year degree. The world in fact needs far more welders, auto mechanics and air conditioning contractors than it will ever need lawyers and investment bankers. I know plenty of unemployed and underemployed lawyers. But every air conditioning guy I know has more work than he can get to.

And for the life of me I can see no market demand whatsoever for Gender Studies experts.

The goal of education should be to help kids figure out the career path best suited for their intellect and aptitudes and educate them accordingly. If that’s a four year degree toward a career in the professions or behind a corporate desk, God bless.

But God bless the tradesman, too. Rubio was right. It’s time for elite liberals and policy makers to stop looking down their noses at the skilled tradesmen who do nothing less than keep the country running.

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