From the MRW Water Cooler
Q: As I was watching the mission statement, I had a few thoughts about what you, Mike Rowe, want to do. And I thought I might share it with you.
1) You are absolutely right about the problem of work in the country, but looking at it straight, it is coming from a well-off prime-time stud that has the voice and charisma for T.V. I can’t think of a way to do it at this point, but you have definitely done well so far–that is IDENTIFYING WITH THE GROUP YOU ARE SUPPORTING. I love what you are trying to do and your show is great, I’m not trying to bash, but here is how I partially see it: it is just you there on the screen most of the time. All those other people who are doing those jobs for a living are blurs of color in my eyes because the show features YOU. You are the face and the personality of the show and now you are the personality of the grass-roots movement. You need more focus on SPECIFIC people or jobs or sectors of the work population because all I see is a T.V. character going from job to job and giving some blue-collar workers T.V. exposure. Sure there is more than that going on, but you need to make that more explicit in your show. This site certainly helps with that though.
2) As a side note to some of your commentary on your opening video: you mentioned silicon valley–a technological boom right now. Education is necessary for things like that to happen: engineering, physics, medicine, etc. But this is a dual relationship–the technology exists but the labor needs to be there too to incorporate into the infrastructure of society. You might want to mention that not only does the country need the labor, but with the labor, we can accomplish not only the infrastructure advances of foreign countries (mag-lev trains, high-efficient solar energy, green sky-rises, water purification plants running from off shore winds, etc). I have seen all of these on the discovery channel and they are useless to us if they can’t get BUILT. Not only do laborers need to be there to do the labor, but also they need to have the “know-how” to get things done. Moreover, they need the education to not only understand their work, but also even to IMPROVE their trade, make advances, and invent new things in their line of work. That is how history has progresses thus far and that is how it should continue instead of the present dichotomy between inventors and laborers.
3) Take this movement PAST prime time. This website is a start but not enough to reach everyone that you need to contact for a truly successful movement. I don’t know if it would help, but find a politician who cares enough to push this in Washington. Show the people who make the decisions in this country that they are messing it up. Come up with a solution to reverse the trend and show them with research and proofs.
4) This problem is far more than the general disgust in actual dirty work. Take any slightly educated, mature adult who knows something about how a country is maintained and they can tell you the importance of labor. People get it that labor is important, but it is the stigma that it carries with it because of the stereotype that laborers are uneducated. Some are and some aren’t. But it is the same stigma that was working in medieval Europe: peasants and nobility. White collar and Blue collar. Who usually makes more money? Who has better job security? It is the stigma that is so hard to break. It honestly goes back to the beginning of slavery in history to when menial tasks were given to the slaves. It is the white collar parents giving preference to white collar work over real labor. It is those notions being passed down to children. Sociologically, it is how children are socialized into society–how they are taught to think about things in the world. THAT is what you need to reverse, but I don’t know how you can do it. – Jester
The bad news, is that no one can single-handedly correct a problem that profound. The worse news is that no movement can do it either. But the good news, sort of, is that we don’t have to. That kind of thinking – the belief that our kids are somehow destined for a “better” life than ours, is just mathematically unsustainable, and ultimately impossible. The illusion that white collar jobs can exist apart from blue collar jobs is just that – an illusion. Adherents to that way of thinking will be disabused of their beliefs sooner or later. It simply doesn’t work long term. Today’s headlines make that pretty clear, in my opinion. The real goal of this site is far simpler. It’s to build a place that makes a case for Skilled Labor. A place that celebrates and encourages that path as an option for someone trying to figure out the rest of their life. A month from now, things are going to look different here. But the activity so far, with no press or promotion, is stunning, and enough to convince me that people are ready to have this conversation. Thanks Jester, for keeping it going.