December 9, 2013

The Greatness of Dirty Jobs


["Do listen to the TED talk. The story about lambs is worth the price of admission."]

Mike Rowe: One of our better citizens.

"I’m personally tired of stories about people who follow their dream, ignore the naysayers, struggle mightily, eschew every other viable opportunity, suffer for decades, go into debt, and finally achieve some monumental breakthrough that leads people to marvel at their fortitude and perseverance. Tales of inspiration are important, but do they all have to revolve around the same narrative of never giving up on your “true calling.” I think we need more stories about people who do whatever it takes to thrive, and somehow manage to find happiness and passion in whatever they choose to do. Isn’t that more empowering than identifying one specific “passion,” and making every happiness contingent upon attaining it? " WATCH: Stories You Won't Believe From Some of the World's Dirtiest Jobs | TEDTalks

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"As for your personal characterization of Glenn Beck, I can only assume you have information not available to me.

In my time with him, I saw nothing “horrible, psychotic, hateful, or nasty.” I smelled no burning sulfur, no smoldering brimstone, and saw no sign of cloven hooves. To the contrary, I found a very passionate guy who employs about 300 people, works his butt off, and puts his money where his mouth is. Do we agree on everything? Of course not. Am I “disappointed” by that fact? Not at all. The real question, Shannon, is … why are you? To be clear, I’m not here to tell you what to think or whom to hate. Like everyone else, you’re free to pick your devils, choose your angels, and attach the horns and halos accordingly.But the guts of your question – even without all the name-calling and acrimony – reveal the essence of what’s broken in our country. You want to know “how I can associate” with someone you don’t like? The short answer is, how can I not? How are we ever going to accomplish anything in this incredibly divisive time if we associate only with people that we don’t disagree with? Devil or Angel, Whichever You Are « Profoundly Disconnected

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Posted by gerardvanderleun at December 9, 2013 11:29 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Mike Rowe for President 2016.

Posted by: Magnolia at December 10, 2013 5:55 AM

Imagine someone from the entertainment "industry" that is not an a**hole. Right on Mike.

Posted by: tripletap at December 10, 2013 6:19 AM

I would second that nomination, but that might be a job too dirty for Mike.

The whole point is that who is president or what Congress does is not what matters. This is our country, these are our lives, and we don't have to wait until 2016 or 2014 to fix what's wrong. We can start today.

This is the stuff I was told when I was a kid. The government is not going to fix anything, but there's a really good chance they'll screw it up. Get up and deal with it. Somebody has to sweat and put in the extra hours. Don't do it for credit or praise; do it because it needs doing.

Want a better house? Start by taking care of the one you have and keeping it clean. Same with cars. Clean your garage. Instead of complaining about the snow on your way to the gym, clean it off your sidewalk and driveway. Clear some of your neighbor's. Maybe they'll take the hint.

Posted by: mushroom at December 10, 2013 6:23 AM

Hear, hear, Mushroom! It's not about the politicians or the government. It's about us. We can do it (whatever "it" is) better than some bureaucrat in Washington or Tallahassee, or wherever.

It often dismays me how we as a society have lost respect for work that doesn't require an advanced academic degree. Mike Rowe is right--the people with "dirty jobs" are the ones who keep the country running at the most essential level. Without them, all the fancy diplomas are just so much toilet paper.

Posted by: waltj at December 10, 2013 7:19 AM

Love this. Love Mike. Thanks, Gerard.

Posted by: Leslie at December 10, 2013 8:47 AM

Mike is a throwback - to the times I grew up in. (1930s-1950s) I heard that TED talk from my father, from my grandfather, from my coach, from many of my teachers, from my various employers.

Work is not a four letter word. It has created the wealth this country has achieved and without it the wealth can't be maintained. We still need pipefitters, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, oil drill rig workers, etc., etc. And we have declared war on those kinds of jobs. Mike Rowe is preaching the kind of scripture this country needs for its coming revival.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at December 10, 2013 8:50 AM

I hear what Mike has to say and I have to say I agree with him about most of what he says. Though I am now an electrical engineer, I didn't go to school to become one until I was 35. By then, I had my own small electrical contracting business. I have been in some form of construction most of my life. I've also worked in a steel mill. I've worked nights loading meat into semis so they could drive out early the next morning and deliver to stores. Physical, dirty, sometimes dangerous work.

I don't romanticize it. It was ok when I was young. At the time, there weren't many options. And though I'm still in very good physical condition, I know it's a young man's game. I knew then that by 50, I didn't want to be 'out there' terminating wires, running conduit, pounding nails, hauling tool boxes out of a plane at some remote airstrip at ten degrees and fifteen mile per hour winds.

So I decided to get an engineering degree because it would allow me to keep doing what I was doing already, but at a different level. Now days, when I am somewhere remote, and it's very cold and very windy and I see young guys out doing what I used to do, I tell folks back in the office, there's a reason why I laid down the tools, and that even the worst day in the office isn't remotely as bad as -10, or worse, and windy.

That being said, Mr. Rowe is correct in that those jobs are worthy of respect. And they are also going away. They are now in China, Korea, Indonesia, and elsewhere. We have effectively de-industrialized America. During the first and second world wars, America was the 'Arsenal of Democracy.' Today we could not do that. We simply do not have the infrastructure or capacity. There simply aren't enough steel mills.

We are slipping into a third world economy. I hear this talk about the information economy, but all I see are more and more people talking, texting, tweeting ever more & more about ever less. Meanwhile the surveillance state grows ever more omnipresent.

Our economy was sold out from under us. It was exported to elsewhere in the world, where manufacturing could be accomplished far cheaper so as to return a profit to share holders. This was done by democrats AND republicans. It was a sacrifice to the alter of short term profitability.

When you see a shipwright retiring, it's not just him retiring, it's also a body of knowledge that has also been passed down from generation to generation. With no one to pass that experience off to, it is lost.

As America's industrial workers increasingly retire and leave the scene, they are not being replaced. Instead we have an ever growing service sector who at the end of the day have made nothing.

The good news, in my opinion anyway, is that America is in the top five, worldwide in oil AND gas production. Despite the government's attempts to also kill that industry, it remains bright, and with it our future, if we seize the opportunity.

As America re-industrializes, it will not be the giant factories of the past. Industry will be more decentralized, cleaner, and far more automated. While we must re-industrialize,it will not be the answer, but it will be one of many answers.

I only hope that it is not too late in the day to save what we had.
Sorry to ramble on. It's a subject I dwell on often and I'm laid up at home with an injured knee.

Posted by: Tim P at December 10, 2013 11:07 AM

Not rambling at all. It's a pleasure to read.

Have that knee heal to. That's an order.

Posted by: vanderleun at December 10, 2013 11:57 AM

I just finished reading "The Smartest Kids in the World - And How They Got That Way" and wouldn't you know, the same theme runs through that book: achievement in academics is based on hard work and high expectations, early in life, to teach the essential life skills of perseverance and 'grit' that we all need to varying degrees throughout our lives.

Just like our parents taught us, as their parents taught them. Shocking, eh?

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at December 10, 2013 1:18 PM

Questions for Tim P: if you were to recommend one particular academic subject to have a firm grasp of, to a person who wanted to become an electrical engineer, what would it be? Also, would an older person (over 45, but under 50) seeking to completely change careers be better served to learn electronics or to earn an electrical engineering degree?

Just looking for an experienced opinion.

Profoundly Disconnected is a great website name, but an unfortunate indictment of our culture. I'd like to believe that economic circumstances will once more drive people into the trades.

Posted by: Kerry at December 10, 2013 6:46 PM

Kerry,
Just my opinion here, but in any engineering discipline, or science field, mathematics is the foundation.

When I was in high school, if you told me I would wind up being an E.E. I would have laughed in your face. I didn't even know what they did and I was a math retard. As I worked more & more in the electrical trade and developed a desire to learn more, I realized that I could not progress without math. So I began taking classes at a community college. One course at a time.

As far as getting an EE versus an ET. I would have to say that you can fare very well with a an associates, or bachelor's degree in electronics technology. Especially with respect to industrial applications such as instrumentation/control and automation. Somebody has to design, install, program, checkout, operate, modify, and repair all of those robots and control systems. Someone has to set up the industrial networks.

It's not glamorous work but it's steady, it pays well, and allows you to be mobile. It's also intellectually interesting and can be really challenging. If I had it to do over again, knowing what I know now, I may well have gone that path.

Posted by: Tim P at December 10, 2013 7:44 PM

Tim, I very much appreciate your insight. Thanks for taking the time.

Posted by: Kerry at December 10, 2013 9:26 PM

Do listen to the TED talk. The story about lambs is worth the price of admission.

Posted by: Fat Man at December 10, 2013 9:46 PM

"Immigration Reform" will squash the benefit of skipping college in favor of learning a trade.

If your local Community College is teaching a trade you are interested in, it is just a matter of time before that trade is over-subscribed by all the other CC candidates and then by imported labor. Find a "boutique" trade that can't be learned quickly by anyone tired of cubical life and one that needs your local knowledge.

Posted by: Scott M at December 11, 2013 12:28 AM

After going through the hard work and sacrifice to start and run a company. Paying taxes out the wazoo, to have some no brain dem politician have the balls to say I don't pay my "fair" share of taxes.Instead of addressing nincompoops that pay none. Makes me want to bitch slap my rep for not standing up for me.

Posted by: LaZrtx at December 11, 2013 5:59 AM

Thanks, FM. I'm updating with that reminder.

Posted by: vanderleun at December 11, 2013 9:32 AM

I wanted "Dirty Jobs" to be classroom study material for HS students. Rowe, IMO, points out the respect that each and every job done in the world should command. No job is so menial or unimportant that it is below anyone. All jobs are worthy, and in addition, worthy of respect.
He emphasizes the pride of product that each person puts into their work.
He deserves a medal, not from the current 'occupant' at 1600 for there is NO positive accomplishment that would make presentation worthwhile. IMO.
Rowe is someone I think I would want to have a beer with, as the phrase goes. Up to his armpit in the organs of a cow, he commands more respect than some of the Dullards of DC.
tom

Posted by: tomw at December 11, 2013 1:15 PM
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