The First Four Years Are The Hardest…

Dear Governor Romney,
My name is Mike Rowe and I own a small company in California called mikeroweWORKS. Currently, mikeroweWORKS is trying to close the country’s skills gap by changing the way Americans feel about Work.  (I know, right? Ambitious.) Anyway, this Labor Day is our 4th anniversary, and I’m commemorating the occasion with an open letter to you. If you read the whole thing, I’ll vote for you in November.
First things first. mikeroweWORKS grew out of a TV show called Dirty Jobs. If by some chance you are not glued to The Discovery Channel every Wednesday at 10pm, allow me to visually introduce myself. That’s me on the right, preparing to do something dirty.
When Dirty Jobs premiered back in 2003, critics called the show “a calamity of exploding toilets and misadventures in animal husbandry.” They weren’t exactly wrong. But mostly, Dirty Jobs was an unscripted celebration of hard work and skilled labor. It still is. Every week, we highlight regular people who do the kind of jobs most people go out of their way to avoid. My role on the show is that of a “perpetual apprentice.” In that capacity I have completed over three hundred different jobs, visited all fifty states, and worked in every major industry.
Though schizophrenic and void of any actual qualifications, my resume looks pretty impressive, and when our economy officially tanked in 2008, I was perfectly positioned to weigh in on a variety of serious topics. A reporter from The Wall Street Journal called to ask what I thought about the “counter-intuitive correlation between rising unemployment and the growing shortage of skilled labor.” CNBC wanted my take on outsourcing. Fox News wanted my opinions on manufacturing and infrastructure. And CNN wanted to chat about currency valuations, free trade, and just about every other work-related problem under the sun.
In each case, I shared my theory that most of these “problems” were in fact symptoms of something more fundamental – a change in the way Americans viewed hard work and skilled labor. That’s the essence of what I’ve heard from the hundreds of men and women I’ve worked with on Dirty Jobs. Pig farmers, electricians, plumbers, bridge painters, jam makers, blacksmiths, brewers, coal miners, carpenters, crab fisherman, oil drillers…they all tell me the same thing over and over, again and again – our country has become emotionally disconnected from an essential part of our workforce.  We are no longer impressed with cheap electricity, paved roads, and indoor plumbing. We take our infrastructure for granted, and the people who build it.
Today, we can see the consequences of this disconnect in any number of areas, but none is more obvious than the growing skills gap. Even as unemployment remains sky high, a whole category of vital occupations has fallen out of favor, and companies struggle to find workers with the necessary skills. The causes seem clear. We have embraced a ridiculously narrow view of education. Any kind of training or study that does not come with a four-year degree is now deemed “alternative.” Many viable careers once aspired to are now seen as “vocational consolation prizes,” and many of the jobs this current administration has tried to “create” over the last four years are the same jobs that parents and teachers actively discourage kids from pursuing. (I always thought there was something ill-fated about the promise of three million “shovel ready jobs” made to a society that no longer encourages people to pick up a shovel.)
Which brings me to my purpose in writing. On Labor Day of 2008, the fans of Dirty Jobs helped me launch this website. began as a Trade Resource Center designed to connect kids with careers in the skilled trades. It has since evolved into a non-profit foundation – a kind of PR Campaign for hard work and skilled labor.
Thanks to a number of strategic partnerships, I have been able to promote a dialogue around these issues with a bit more credibility than my previous resume allowed. I’ve spoken to Congress (twice) about the need to confront the underlying stigmas and stereotypes that surround these kinds of jobs. Alabama and Georgia have both used mikeroweWORKS to launch their own statewide technical recruitment campaigns, and I’m proud to be the spokesman for both initiatives. I also work closely with Caterpillar, Ford, Kimberly-Clark, and Master Lock, as well as The Boy Scouts of America and The Future Farmers of America. To date, the mikeroweWORKS Foundation has raised over a million dollars for trade scholarships. It’s modest by many standards, but I think we’re making a difference.
Certainly, we need more jobs, and you were clear about that in Tampa. But the Skills Gap proves that we need something else too.  We need people who see opportunity where opportunity exists. We need enthusiasm for careers that have been overlooked and underappreciated by society at large. We need to have a really big national conversation about what we value in the workforce, and if I can be of help to you in that regard, I am at your service – assuming of course, you find yourself in a new address early next year.
To be clear, mikeroweWORKS has no political agenda. I am not an apologist for Organized Labor or for Management. mikeroweWORKS is concerned only with encouraging a larger appreciation for skilled labor, and supporting those kids who are willing to learn a skill.
Good luck in November. And thanks for your time.
Mike Rowe
PS. In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that I wrote a similar letter to President Obama. Of course, that was four years ago, and since I never heard back, I believe proper etiquette allows me to extend the same offer to you now. I figure if I post it here, the odds are better that someone you know might send it along to your attention.


Admin note:  to make this easier to find, here’s a reprint of the letter to President Obama:


30 January 2009
President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington DC

“For everywhere we look, there is work to be done.”

Dear Mr. President,

Much of what you said on January 20th struck a chord, but nothing matched the simplicity or truth of that particular observation. I am awed by the task at hand, and compelled to tell you about mikeroweWORKS, a public awareness campaign designed to reinvigorate the trades, reinforce the importance of skilled labor, and draw attention to our crumbling infrastructure.

My name’s Mike Rowe, and I host a program on the Discovery Channel called Dirty Jobs. Dirty Jobs is a simple show about hard work. No plot, no script, and no actors. The show relies upon a mission – one that sends me around the country to work as an apprentice in a wide variety of occupations not typically associated with a four-year diploma. From coal mines to cattle ranches, crab boats to construction sites, I’ve spent the last five years laboring alongside men and women who do the kinds of jobs that make civilized life possible for the rest of us. Now, after 200 dirty jobs, I enjoy a national reputation as an expert in absolutely nothing. However, I have managed to succeed in highlighting an important group of hardworking Americans that I believe deserve our respect, and from whom I think

we might learn a thing or two about the meaning of a “good job.”

Forty years ago, people understood that sweat and dirt were the hallmarks of important work. Today, that understanding has faded. Somewhere in our economy’s massive transition from manufacturing to financial services, we have forsaken skilled labor, along with many aspects of our traditional work ethic. Trade school enrollments are down, even as our infrastructure crumbles around us. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Community Colleges are routinely described as alternatives to a “proper” education. Madison Avenue bombards us with messages that equate happiness with leisure. Hollywood portrayals of hard work usually embody an element of drudgery or some silly stereotype, and jobs once considered vital to our society are now simply overlooked. The ranks of welders, carpenters, pipe fitters, and plumbers have been declining for years, and now, we face the bizarre reality of rising unemployment, and a shortage of skilled labor. Strange days.

Whether through elitism or indifference, the net result is the same – people have slowly shied away from these jobs. Not because they aren’t important or lucrative – but because they are simply not celebrated. This perception is real Mr. President, and I believe it’s standing squarely in the way of your recovery plan, as well as your initiative for Volunteerism and national service. In my opinion, it needs to be corrected as soon as possible, which brings me back to my idea. is a destination for anyone looking to investigate a career in the Skilled Trades. Its purpose is to encourage, educate, and celebrate the business of Work, by focusing on those opportunities related to rebuilding our national infrastructure. The idea grew from the mission of Dirty Jobs, and evolved with the help of loyal viewers who constantly provide the site with daily links to scholarships, apprenticeships, fellowships, and other worthwhile programs. Large corporations have offered support. Industry leaders, Retired Generals, teachers, laborers, professors, parents, and students have all gotten involved. My hope for mikeroweWORKS is that it function not just as a useful resource, but also as a “call to arms,” and ultimately, a PR Campaign for Skilled Labor. I would like to see mikeroweWORKS help assure that those three or four million jobs you wish to create, are jobs that people feel proud to have.

People often tell me that Dirty Jobs reminds them of a time when Work was not seen as a thing to avoid. When skilled tradesmen were seen as role models, and a paycheck was not the only benefit of a job well done. We need to recapture that sentiment. We need to celebrate, on a bigger scale, the role models right in front of us. Dirty Jobs has given me the opportunity to do that. With a little luck and the right support, mikeroweWORKS, will take it to the next level.

Thank you for your time, Mr. President. Good luck in your term, and please know that mikeroweWORKS and Dirty Jobs are at your disposal.


Mike Rowe
CEO, mikeroweWORKS, inc.
Executive Producer, Dirty Jobs

559 thoughts on “The First Four Years Are The Hardest…

  1. Very nicely written, Mike. Congratulations mrW on 4 years of making a positive difference. Happy Labor Day!

  2. Happy Labour Day Mike and Happy Anniversary to mrW!

    Hope Gov. Romney will be able to read this letter.

    All the best Mike.


  3. This comment is to Mitt Romney. As a stedfast believer in mikeroweWORKS and a democrat, if you read and reply to Mike’s letter, I’ll vote for you too. Happy Labor Mike.

  4. Thank you so much for your insightful and practical assessment of America’s present dilemma. As a retired teacher, I have long been dismayed at the growing number of educators and parents who have railroaded young people into college(where they have foundered and failed) because they have deemed these important jobs to be unacceptable employment for their child. There are few teachers who will encourage parents to let go of their unfortunate definition of success and encourage their children to train in trade jobs. Please continue this important work….America’s future depends upon a new generation of skilled workers stepping up to fill these positions.

  5. I love this, Mike. Thanks for writing it and congrats on all of your hard work (and your staff’s)!


  6. If Candidate Romney responds, not only will I vote for him, but I’ll vote for you, Mike, in 2020.

    Most of the proudest accomplishments in my life came from hard physical work that left my shirt streaked white with the dried salt from my sweat.

    I count anyone who hasn’t had that experience the poorer for the lack.

    Keep it up, Mike.

  7. Dear Mike,

    Firstly, I know the democrats started pushing the lie that US citizens didn’t want their jobs, the jobs they always did, the ones they still want and need to do, but merely democrats making those claims, doesn’t mean its true. Mike did you watch that episode of 60 Minutes, with the homeless families, with kids, of US citizen construction workers? You know, the ones whose dads can’t get jobs in their own country, because Obama and the democrats have helped illegal aliens illegally work in the US, despite the fact that it discriminates against US citizens. Those kids don’t have a billion dollar lobby behind them, so they were swept under the rug after that episode. Obama certainly doesn’t care. Those homeless families and kids, citizen families with kids aren’t just in Florida either, they are all over the country.

    I’ve volunteered helping homeless citizens, and they are majority citizens who worked their entire lives, in factories, construction, fire fighters, brick layers, carpenters, drywall layers, nursing home and hospital cleaners. I have friends who know people who worked in meat processing plants, in other food processing plants in the south and southwest. Not one of those workers stopped wanting their jobs, they were fired or “laid off”, so the employer could replace them with illegal aliens. The illegals weren’t better workers, in most cases they’re inefficient, unsanitary. In fact, if you remember the peanut butter scare from several years ago, what the media didn’t tell you, despite two children dying from toxic peanut butter… the illegal aliens working in the processing plants didn’t take the obligation to clean the equipment seriously, and as a result, toxic black mold grew and spread throughout the machinery, which lead to the deaths of little kids, for eating what used to be a safe product in the US. The reason why the US has massive amounts of ecoli and salmonella and other food bourne illnesses now, is we have horrible, backward, illegal aliens who simply do not care about the rules, they’ve been told they’re above the law, and are never held to account.

    This is the democrat party that was, and still is the party of slavery, their hateful attacks on the citizenry who object, are the same as those they employed as the Jim CRow laws they wrote and passed.

  8. Hello MIke,

    I thought I was the only person that felt this way. I have done many dirty jobs in my life including black-water hard hat diving {try welding in black water under the ice, now that’s interesting}, heavy creosote timber work {This is one you should try, especially on a hot sunny day as it burns the skin layers deep}, barge repair, etc, etc, etc. Anyway, I digress. In the late 80’s when I was starting a family, I left the heavy construction trades. Since no one would even give me a job interview without a “Degree”, I started my own business using the knowledge I gained working the trades and grew it to a very nice 6 figure income. A farmer or plumber can spend their whole life learning their craft and virtually no one respects or appreciates it, but spend 4 years in a classroom and the world is supposed to be your oyster. Go figure!

    Well enough of my rant. Your project is the most interesting project I have yet heard. There are plenty of inner city kids that will never have a shot at college, but give them a trade and it can raise them and their families & heirs out of dire circumstances. Changing cultures begins at the beginning for most families and your project provides the keys to unlock the doors to a better life for generations. I mean if an inner kid can get a good paying trade job, he can begin a family, buy a house and maybe someday send his kids to college.

    Way to go Mike! God Bless and if I can help in the Philly region, I am all in!

  9. Mike, you were a HOOT when you hosted QVC and my family has followed you in your career ever since. I applaud your willingness to speak your mind and not feel threatened by the “powers that be”. Good luck, sir. We are behind you!

  10. There is never anything wrong with a good day’s labor and to have seen the “labors” that you have done gives you a unique perspective! Thanks for your efforts to get people to realize there is nothing wrong with getting dirty to get a job done 🙂

  11. Excellent Mike,
    When I was in college my professor and mentor said he had secured a job for me digging ditches, rough plumbing, carpentry, laying foundations, etc. Basically, turning old fish restaurants into bars. I asked him why I could not stay in the air-conditioned lab as opposed to the 104 degree heat of West Texas. He said, ” I can teach you “about” science but I can not teach you how to “think”, especially to think on your feet, to do real”problem solving. The smartest men I know are plumbers and construction foremen,these guys will teach you how to use your hands, how to be inventive, how to make the stuff you need yourself. You learn that and you will be far a head as a scientist”.

    Now I am a Professor of Cardiothoracic and have a couple of patents. Yet there is not a day goes by where i do not use the skill taught me by welders, carpenters and ranch hands. They taught me how to think, not just read or listen, but how to think critically and problem solve. Traits required to be an inventor.

    Every kid should perform manual labor in order to appreciate the greatness of America and how she was built.

    Thanks, keep up the great work.

  12. Mike, I have always enjoyed your shows and your appearance on Last Man Standing. This is an incredible letter and a great cause. My respect for you just went through the roof. You are a stand up guy. I hope you get a response.

  13. Man…you nailed it. Beautiful letter but perhaps you meant to (but couldn’t) find a way to insert a big problem, that of the immigrant work force. Right now, my next door neighbor is having a room addition built for him by three Mexican brothers who are doing very good work, but for a very excellent price. I, too, am Mexican but in order to afford my home, my wife and I need jobs paying near 6 figures each (yes, each.) Funny, but every day when I go to my plush, air conditioned office job, I daydream of helping them build that addition. I absolutely would love to be a builder, but the money is just not there for me to even consider pursuing that dream.

    I agree that it is a crying shame that good ol fashioned manual labor is just not popular any more, but it does seem that immigrants are more than happy to jump right in and make a decent living at it. I suppose it cannot satisfy my hunger for the almighty dollar and I am 100% sure that some of my recent health problems would never have occurred due to the lack of exercise and the high stress levels associated with the “plush” office job.

    Maybe I should reconsider my whole lifestyle. Hmmmm…..

    Juan Alcala

  14. One more quick comment in case ANY member of Romney’s staff with even a REMOTE chance of getting a message to Romney….

    President Romney (that’s right!): PLEASE, do a dual interview with Mike Rowe and talk to each other. Get his ideas and give him yours – interview each other. Take a couple hours of your time, have Mike meet you on a bus and do the interview right there and then, unscripted so that the audience can see you both as you are. But for Mike, please don’t be some liberal hack looking for a gotcha moment. We simply don’t want to see that and in fact we despise that behavior. If you are a genuine man looking for real answers, please know that you will never find them with the party that is trying to destroy our country. You need the Republican party and the Republican party needs you.

    Nuff said.

    Big Juan Studdly Wuddly Alcala

  15. I concur with your sentiments Mr Rowe. I would also respectfully suggest that this be also addressed to Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for President. If there is any presidential candidate out there that understands the value of skilled labor, it would be Johnson. The man began a one-person handyman business and grew it to employ over 1000 skilled persons before ever becoming involved in politics.

  16. Mike nails it to the wall again. Dead-on accurate, Mike. There was a time, not all that long ago, when many of those “dirty jobs” that you do on the show were just considered “character-building.” Now they’re somehow “beneath” 16-year-olds. I’ve mucked my share of stalls, carried wheelbarrows of horse manure, dug ditches, cut trees and shrubs so full of thorns that I was certain I would be sliced to ribbons before it was over, dug out greasy, sticky, slimy sewer pits that have festered for months or years, and all of that was before I was 18. Flipping burgers seemed like a vacation to me (never did that; it just seemed a lot easier than the stuff I was doing). Now, somehow, the notion of dropping fries or assembling a patty, bun, some lettuce, cheese, ketchup and mustard on some sort of a time scale is just entirely too much work for today’s precious darlings.

    I think one of the biggest problems is that we, as a nation, have somehow decided that our teenagers are just to precious to get their darling little hands calloused. That’s an absolutely terrible idea. I was out mowing lawns when I was twelve years old. It was hot, usually dusty, always sweaty, miserable work that taught me to get out of bed early in the morning in the summers and get my work done and satisfy my clientele. And I did that because my parents encouraged me to get my butt out there and work, and then I was myself encouraged to do that because of the paycheck. We’ve not only lost that as a nation, we’ve actually outlawed it, because people consider a twelve-year-old “go-getter” to be the same as some 8-year-old child chained to a sewing machine in a seedy part of Brooklyn. Well, the two are different, and it’s time we went back to recognizing that they are different.

    Kudos to you, Mike, for laying it on the line and saying it like it is. I hope your message carries far and wide.

  17. Mike, I was a huge fan of yours before I read your letter and now I am a bigger fan. I sure hope your letter helps tackle the jobs crises we face as a nation.

  18. As the service manager for a mid sized generator, UPS, and DC power plant company, I can say with complete certainty that finding anyone with any skill set willing to work in our industry is like trying to hire an astronaut, who speaks 37 languages including Klingon, who’s been to the moon 17 times, and can grill on a BBQ better than Bobby Flay. In other words, no one I’ve ever hired or even interviewed has any skill set that can be applied in our field. I simply have to hire someone I can train. Someone willing to learn. Someone willing to WORK. Someone willing to put their pretentiousness aside and understand that on the first day they start working for me, that they know absolutely nothing. It’s my job to train them to be safe and efficient. And if they don’t learn and apply the lessons I convey to them, the first time they make a mistake will be the day I send them home to their family in a dustpan. Wether it’s 208 volts or 13,200 volts, the skills needed to safely work with heavy power is by all definitions more than a skill. It’s a lifestyle. A degree doesn’t teach you how to live that lifestyle. Rarely do I find workers with degrees who can do the work we do. And some of the best, safest, most intelligent, and hardest workers I’ve ever seen have no degree or even formal training before they hired on with us. Now they’re in the top of their field, and even though they have the experience and skill set to write their own ticket, they stay with us. That’s why our company keeps growing while others close their doors. Continued growth and continued employee loyalty is up to me. I take that responsibility in full. And I thank my employees every day for their service to me, our company, and society as a whole. Because without us you’d likely have no cable TV, no cellular phone service, and no backup power at a hospital while undergoing surgery. We keep the lights on and the computers running when the utility company can’t. And I wish more people were interested in learning how that’s done. Because I could sure use the help!

  19. Hey Mike,

    It brings great relief to the mind and soul to know that someone is out there caring about these ever so important things in life that are the foundation of how a society functions well.

    Thanks for spending the time and effort for the hard working people of America who don’t get or probably even want recognition for their hard work, that we all benefit from.

    (We take our infrastructure for granted, and the people who build it.)

    You keep doing and saying things that we like, Mike.

    I am confident that you will keep up the good work.

  20. Dear Mike, I couldn’t have said it better. I grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and have since become a dentist but I still get sweaty and smelly most days doing some manual labor outdoors etc and I still find that I TRUST people that work up a sweat often doing physical work. Most of my friends and family are in construction and skilled trades and we have them to thank for our creature comforts in a very real way.

    Sincerely, Ted

  21. Great letter, Mike. I only wish Mr. Obama had answered it four years ago. I think he is much closer to realizing your vision than Mr. Romney, but let’s face it, you should be running for President!

  22. Mike,

    I did not go to college and I learned a trade. I went to work in a tire shop learned all I could about tires, then I learned to sell, later I also learned how to manage, and ultimately learned how to run a business. That was 13 years ago…

    Today I have worked my way (still no degree) into a combined Blue/ White collar position with a manufacture. I work with major companies and show guys with MBA’s how to make their business more profitable, streamlined, and better for the planet as well. I also kick the tail of all the other college educated guys. I am asked where I went to school… I say The University of Barnes and Noble and the school of hard knocks.

    The point is that you are on the right track here. A friend of mine went to Stanford and is a surgeon… I make more then he does and started a heck of a lot sooner on life!

    No one grows up and says “I want to be a tire guy” but in the end… That is what I am.

    Your own boot straps are stronger then any government handout…


  23. I used to be a Mason, brick, block, stone layer. My company paid better than most other types of jobs. What I found is that people wanted the $15 jobs, but they didn’t want to work for it. It is demanding physical labor, and many quit by lunch, some made it a day. I don’t know anymore what people want out of a job, but I know they don’t want to put anything into it, especially effort.

  24. I hope Mitt reads this Mike. You’ve stated your case in a simple yet effective manner while at the same time validating your credintials for speacking on the subject. Maybe Mitt should consider you “Secretary Of Labor” in his Cabinet????

  25. Mike,

    As a long time watcher of your show, I appreciate your hard work ethic, and the very authentic appreciation you have for the people you’ve worked with over the years. I myself have an Engineering degree, but often times marveled at the people who went to college, got a degree just to get one, and then never did anything with it. I too have been frustrated by how some (even in my own industry) turn their noses up at people who get two year degrees, or become plumbers, etc. Hell, if I have a son and he becomes a plumber, I’d be thrilled.

    I also appreciate your political neutrality, but I honestly believe your letter will fall on deaf ears with Mitt Romney. I wouldn’t doubt if he actually answered you, but I don’t believe he’d take your message to heart.

    However, I would recommend you write or talk with Gary Johnson. He is the Libertarian party candidate for President, and I believe you have a lot in common with him. He started out running a one man handyman business in New Mexico which grew to be one of the largest construction businesses in New Mexico, employing over 1,000 people.

    Not only does he believe in what you’re doing… HE’S DONE IT! He was a two term governor of New Mexico, and I believe is someone who would honestly take your message and spread it. I recommend you write him a similar letter, and I have no doubt you’d hear back from him.

  26. For years I have been arguing with anyone who would listen, that university degrees are generally a waste of time and money for a majority of those who attend. Too many of the friends I attended school with just assumed that they would continue on to university, because that was just what you did. Even though you had no idea what you wanted to do with the rest of your life, a university degree was essential. Sorry but not everyone is suited or interested in “higher education”. A degree in Physical Education or Arts and Science is in my view a waste of money. You would be better off taking a job at 7-11. At least you would be a tax paying member of society. Too often people forget about the plumber who comes to fix your toilet or the electrician who you call when the power goes out. The welder who fabricated the utility trailer you use to haul the trash to the dump or the trucker that brings food to your supermarket are too often dismissed as menial labour. Well pardon me but what are you going to do when your toilet backs up or the food aisle is empty at the store? Hopefully you will at least receive a reply from the Republican side of the equation in the USA. Best wishes and keep fighting the good fight.

  27. Pingback: Mike Rowe’s Letter to Mitt Romney | Stix Blog
  28. I sincerely hope Gov. Romney reads your letter and reaches out to you Mike. We need skilled laborers and tradesmen to make this country work, and these “Dirty Jobs” should be as much a part of our national conversation about education and the future of our country as the so-called “white collar” jobs are. Thanks for your continued efforts and best of luck!

  29. Mr. Rowe,

    I, too, am a huge proponent of skilled labor training and technical education. The “traditional” 4-year path is no longer traditional, as the overwhelming majority of high school graduates do not obtain a bachelor’s degree within 4-years after high school. A 4 year college degree plan is not the right path for everyone, as one size does not fit all. Moreover, a 4-year college degree is certainly no guarantee that an applicant is qualified for today’s job market. Many of today’s college graduates are simply under-prepared for modern day job requirements regardless if they are white collar, blue collar, or gray collar opportunities. Clearly, the need for specialized, hands-on, technical training and skill-specific education is critical.

    However, I’m concerned about the available educational opportunities that exist. It seems most of the technical education opportunities are run by for-profit education institutions. That’s not the case 100% as some local community colleges offer skilled training programs and degrees. Nevertheless, the proprietary schools are the spending the marketing dollars and filling the need in the marketplace. This presents a significant challenge to me. That challenge, however, may not be what most people would assume.

    While there are certainly abuses in the use of high-pressure sales techniques in some of the for-profit schools, and the tuition rates are much higher compared to state schools, that is not my main concern. My concern is the rejection of ALL for-profit training centers by the majority of government level, secondary public education leaders.

    In 2010, I attempted to bridge the gap in my state. In an effort to help at-risk students, I tried to work with the public schools leaders to create events that would highlight a wide variety of options available to high school graduates beyond just the typical 4-year universities. While I was received well by most of the HS Counselors, the idea was categorically rejected by State government organizations because I was inviting for-profit, proprietary schools to participate. I believe these institutions serve a purpose and are meeting the educational needs of many un-skilled laborers.

    While I could go on, I’ll end by simply asking you about your opinion of the for-profit, proprietary schools? Do you feel they are viable options for today’s HS graduates? If not, what other training opportunities would you suggest?



  30. Please listen to this, Romney! Keep saying it, Mike. The stupid mainstream media is hypnotized by the emblem with the alphabet letter that comes between the n and the p. They will do whatever Michelle says. But this is the vital, new, fresh idea we need to embrace!

  31. Dear Mike,

    My son is 10 1/2 and has always loved “workers”. When he was a toddler and noticed anyone in work boots, he would be in awe and whisper to me “he’s a worker, mom”. His plan is to go to trade school and be a landscaper, or a construction worker, or a plumber, or an electrician. He hasn’t quite made up his mind. His dad and I are all for it. He has a gift with working with his hands and is handier than his dad.

    Thanks, Mike! Your letter is great and our family loves your show and you. Keep up the good work. You are an inspiration!

  32. Mike Rowe! Getting it done … a dirty job is still a job. I agree with Mike, there are a bunch of skilled labor jobs that go unfilled in our country even in today’s high unemployment, we need to get back to shop class or Technical High Schools. Why can’t we have special student loans for Technical Schools that maintain a % of placements after graduation? If your school is sucessful at teaching a trade that is in demand, then and only then your school is eligable for payment from the Tech-Grant loans … lose the placement goals and you’re out the money … sounds like a free market solution to me!

  33. Mike, I loved you way back on QVC! I am so happy to see that you have found your passion. I agree with the other comments that hope Mitt Romney responds and spends time with you. Congrats on your work, your company, your ethics, your passion. This country is a better place because of you!

  34. Outstanding letter and service to our country Mike, you should be commended! Maybe even a Nobel Prize nomination for common sense! I’ve always loved your Dirty Jobs show … Sincere Thanks for all you’ve done and continue to do!!

  35. Dear Mike,

    I wanted to say “Great Letter” and how this hits home.

    We own a small business and are having a difficult time finding anyone that wants to learn our trade.

    We are offering on the job training with the potential of taking over our company.

    Where are all the workers?



  36. Praying to God… Romney & Republicans… take you up! Also Cliff from Cheers! He’s been doing this too, work together!

  37. Dear Mike,
    Ironically, the skilled labor jobs death came when everyone glorified the field you work in….entertainment/Hollywood. If you make a movie glorifying the life of a plumber, then there will probably be a rise in plumbing applicants shortly afterwards. Television is most peoples vision into their future and most programs, even your Dirty Jobs, make a mockery out of jobs that get your hands dirty. They are portrayed as people lower than the rest of us. That’s the problem you have to tackle. As far as Im aware, my high school still offers the same classes it did and the unions stilll have training facilities. But its never a glorious day as a laborer on MTV Cribs……

  38. Mike, This letter is pure genius. It perfectly describes what our country is lacking. I’ve talked about this issue with so many folks over the last few years. yet it’s never really talked about in public until recently when my Governor, Scott Walker, started talking about the jobs available yet the workforce wasn’t there to fill the positions and how we needed to review what and how we teach in schools.

    You have my full support in this endeavor.


  39. Mike,

    This is a great idea – you’ve really hit on an important topic.

    “We need people who see opportunity where opportunity exists.”

    Eliminate the stigma from manual labor and see it as an opportunity for earning a living. My dad was a “worker” his entire life sometimes union – sometimes not. It provided a home and comfortable life for our family.

    Keep up the good work. I hope Mr. Romney will see this and respond.

  40. Mike,

    Thank you for penning this letter. I couldn’t agree more. I am a mechanical engineer, but I come from a family of brick layers and plumbers. There are many days when I wish I had followed in their footsteps; not so much though in January or August. Our detachment from skilled labor is troubling. We are becoming a nation of elitists. Out of ignorance and arrogance we dismiss the skill and talent necessary to actually build something. Recently the governor of Indiana was taken to task for daring to make the statement that not everyone needs to attend college. I don’t believe he was focusing solely on individuals who may not qualify to attend a 4 yr university. This work is extremely rewarding and it is HARD. Contrary to popular belief, skilled labor requires a unique combination of intellect and artistic abilities that a lot of college bound folks would find fulfilling; unfortunately it also requires a willingness to sweat! For those who have never tried it, few things are more satisfying than having honest to God fruits of your labor that will still be standing 50 yrs from now at the end of each day.

  41. Mike, love your show, and love your attitude. But MITT ROMNEY??? He never had to make ends meet by the labor of his own hands, and neither did his father. He would cut labor protections, health care coverage, and benefits packages. He would get rid of unions and regulations that protect workers. He would eat your pension for a business lunch. You are putting your faith into the wrong side, sir. Seriously. Take him on a Dirty Jobs location, stick him in a tank, see what he does. Seriously… he is for cutting education and job training programs – the very vocational programs that you want to see elevated! Pull yourself together, man!

  42. Mr. M:

    I am a coal miner’s son, grateful for the basics (food,clothing & shelter)that two wonderful parents furnished me, and teaching me the basic principles that I needed to proceed, develop, and be successful in life.

    God Bless and hoped you has a Great Labor Day, I did with our family.

    William D. Johnson, Captain, U. S. Marine Corps Retired.

  43. Mike,

    First, love the show, always have. I have done many dirty jobs in my days and have always been a ‘dirty worker’ so to speak.

    Second, I realized early on (when I was in school actually) that not everyone can sit through a lecture and get the education they need. I guess that is why home-ec. and shop classes were so popular in my school days (’82 HS grad) and before. It’s a shame that these classes are the first to go when the schools need to save money.

    I like where your organization is coming from and trying to do. I am going to contribute and help you promote the real ‘builders’of America.


    Bill Poh

  44. We’re going to make this viral, I’m sure someone will be calling.

    Somehow sending our kids to college became mandatory and them working with their hands became seen as “failure”, and that’s sad, really.

    I’ve been working in one trade or another all my life. At 52 I still work two jobs, one tossing hot asphalt and the other pulling cars out of ditches. I enjoy it, but somehow I see this as the best I could do, something I had to settle for because I didn’t go to college somewhere. Where the heck did I get THAT from?

    I served 4 years in the Navy as a Boiler Tech, did another 17 as a Reservist Seabee, plus my years in the trades and doing what I’m doing now. Why the hell should I feel that’s a failure?

    You’re right, there’s a huge disconnect. I don’t know where it started, but it needs to be addressed.

    C’mon, Romney, pick up the ball here.

  45. Although I have an MBA (to get my foot in the business door), my English degree certainly did me no favors.

    I was certainly well-rounded and well-educated (no regrets there), but I could’ve read those books on my own time (and would’ve anyway).

    I couldn’t get a job to save my life, so learned to view everything as an opportunity. That held me in good stead.

    Do I have a white-collar job? Yes. Would I be happy with a trade? Sure. I tried to enter my dad’s profession – the oil trade. As a woman, though, that’s not always easy. At least I am a bit of a handyman and mechanic on my own time.

    I’ve already determined my kids would enlist in the military, then work in whatever they wanted. But if they wanted to go to college, they’d have to waste someone else money…as I had to waste my own.

  46. This letter should be sent to Gary Johnson the libertarian candidate that will be on the ballot in 49 states(long story involving people not playing fair). He was a contractor and started out as a handyman while in college. He is the only candidate this year who has actually done hard labor for a living. I am an electrical apprentice(lot’s and lot’s of digging and climbing in dark places) and I know Gary would answer this letter in a heartbeat if it was sent to him. I love your show Mike and sorry to tell you but Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have never struggled to pay bills doing “Dirty Jobs” like alot of us have. They believe that finance and lobbying are more lucrative careers and all skilled labor get’s given to the lowest bidder in their bean counting world.

  47. Do you really think that Mitt Romney would appreciate what you are trying to say? That he has appreciation for getting your hands dirty? He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He worked for his church instead of going to Vietnam. How did Daddy pull that off? Send this to him, and vote for him if he answers, but don’t believe that he will really appreciate your comments, except for a chance at a vote and a viral flash in the pan. He is too busy sending his corporate jobs overseas and putting American workers out of work. JMHO.

  48. Americans Built America by working in factories, on farms, and in industry of all kinds. Those jobs gave individuals the income they needed to marry, buy homes, and raise families. Lots of kids would rather work a steady job in a factory rather than go to college. What’s wrong with that? We still need all the stuff we used to make, so let’s go back to work and buy American!

  49. “… celebration of hard work and skilled labor.”

    “We need enthusiasm for careers that have been overlooked and underappreciated by society at large. We need to have a really big national conversation about what we value in the workforce….”

    Mike, the letter is great and the sentiments – as always – are outstanding.

    However, am I the only one who sees the irony of the self-styled “perpetual apprentice” seeking help and/or understanding from Romney of all people?

    Well, that’s neither here, nor there.

    Mike may these past four years be but a small taste of the huge difference mrW will continue to make.

    And I sincerely hope that your letter helps to herald in an era of kinship with the White House.

    Happy Anniversary.

  50. As a vocational teacher I appreciate your efforts and wish you success in promoting the ideas of your foundation. Good luck getting their ears!

  51. Well said, Mike. The under belly of higher education has yet to be fully exposed. Many colleges are not equipping the next generation with meaningful skills and education, but rather, they exist to rake in government loan money. The students graduate with huge debts, a poor education, and no marketable job experience. Graduating college students take jobs traditionally held by high school students and adulthood has been delayed by the pursuit of an out-of-touch academic ideal with a ridiculous price tag. Much of our higher education system is a scam, IMO.

    This is hurting our economy and I hope that Mitt and Paul will fight this fraud and abuse with the fervor that they apply to healthcare waste.

  52. I used to have a flight school and employed a particular shop for all of my aircraft maintenance. They would drop everything else they were doing and bend over backward to work on my planes whenever they came into the shop. This was in spite of there being more expensive aircraft that would typically command a bigger bill when finished.

    One day I asked the shop’s Director of Maintenance why they always knocked themselves out for me and my planes. His response was, “We’ve never heard you use a particular phrase.” When asked what that was, he replied, “‘You’re JUST a mechanic.'”

    I never thought of them as “just” mechanics. Almost all had taken an 18-month course to get the basic skills, done 18 months more of on-the-job training, and if qualified to do inspections another 18 months (minimum) of job-related experience as well as passing rigorous FAA exams to get certificated to do the work in the first place. They weren’t “just” mechanics – they were skilled professionals who kept my business going and kept me safe. After all, when things go bad in an airplane, it doesn’t just coast to the side of the road!

    Perhaps if more people thought more about things, they would see the worth of every worker. After all, imagine a world where the trash never gets collected….

  53. Well said and good luck. No surprise you received no reply from Obama after all he is always the smartest man in the room and never needs advice from real people.

  54. I went to both a regular college for nursing and vocational school for ultrasound tech. They both accomplished their tasks as I was hired immediately after completing both programs. the vocational education was more focused and just concerned with getting its students jobs and having them be competent in their job. Its the career field that matters obviously health care is a wide open field, where as what does a liberal arts degree get you? Secondary education designed to meet the job market, WOW what an idea, keep up the good work, I’d vote for you Mike.

  55. I left the US Army in 1973, I was fortunate enough to participate in a program “Project Transition”. It was a coordinated effort but corporations and the military to provide training for many craftsman type jobs, so they could migrate back into the economy. Businesses, unions, and corporations provided classrooms and trainers while servicemen were still being paid by Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard. It helped many people to not only be trained but be placed in jobs in areas such as, plumbers, electricians, auto body repair, mechanics, postal service, air conditioning, and the communications fields. I was lucky to have a 34 year career with AT&T, Bell Atlantic, & finally Verizon because of “Project Transition”. I cannot believe it hasn’t been instituted to assist veterans returning from Iraq and Afgansistan.

  56. Hey Mike, sorry to have to do this to you, but you’ve now officially exceeded the maximum allowable amount of awesomeness. You’ll need to tone it down.

    In the meantime, I’ll tell everyone I know about your noble effort. Unfortunately I don’t have Mitt’s personal cell number, but I’ll do what I can.

  57. Mike,

    I enjoyed your letter and I pray it will be heard and have an impact. I’ve thought for years and still do, that many of our society troubles/issues could be solved by a simple solution. That solution is to have each graduating (before actually doing so) student from high school spend either one or two summer(s) on a farm doing some sort of help/work for the American farmer or rancher (or similar occupation). Yes, pay them for their time helping but at a reasonable rate as room and board would be included as they would be required to live there too. Then the employer would give them a pass/fail grade to go on their diploma. Let them learn how it is to get their hands dirty doing an honest day’s work, and have an appreciation where most everything they use day in and out comes from. It just might help turn this country around before it is destined for the history books as a footnote in what might have been or what we once were as a country.

    After hearing Mrs. Obama’s opening speech (highlights), they obviously don’t know what they are telling America or what America is anymore. I hope Romney will listen and get this country turned down the right path and make America great once more.

  58. Thank you for making a great show. I run a home cleaning business and started it because my husband lost his job at the time and it seemed like every one wanted someone to clean their toilets! It’s hard work and I do love it and have made great friends in the process my clients are my friends and I know they appreciate me and love me for who I am not a college degree, Mitt please respond to Mike we need jobs now! Buy American!

  59. Mike, thank you for such an inspirational letter, and one that is sorely needed at this time in our nation’s history. Valuing hard work and individual initiative is the American way! We’ve lost our way, somewhat, but your efforts, the discussion here, and the tremendous pride I see everywhere in people standing up for the fact that they built their businesses with their own hands makes the future look much more promising.

    I can’t help but think of Mitt Romney’s stump speech where he often says, “I’m going to get that Keystone pipeline built if I have to build it with my own hands!” I love that, the idea that as Americans, we get up and do what we gotta do. I hope that Romney will put your ideas together with his whole concept/plan for the energy industry because we could be talking massive numbers of excellent skilled, albeit somewhat dirty, jobs!

    On that note, I hope you’ve seen these videos, “These Hands.” Wow, those guys would probably get a real kick out of getting a shout-out from you. There are “these hands” vids from many states, but here’s a link to the first one, from New Hampshire:

    Keep up the good work, Mike. And, yes, I’ve tweeted your letter out several times!

  60. Thank you for your well thought out letter. I had a son who would not be able to deal with structured education but certainly would have been a great hands on employee for many blue collar jobs. He was a great follower and would do so til his last breath. Not all people are set to complete higher education and we need people to do the hard work. Thank you for your dedication to the working class.

  61. Awesome! As an English teacher, I see the frustration in the faces of students who will most likely not go to college. I want them to know that skilled and manual labor jobs are just as good and necessary as any other jobs, and they often have good pay scales! Thank you for what you do! Let’s keep America strong and help people see that work is work and that workers are few!!

  62. Mike and the staff at mikeWORKS, Thank you for this letter! I am a college professor and, despite the counter-intuitive nature of this, I encourage my students to pursue a trade outside of what my university could ever teach them. I believe that the best way to get young people back into skilled trades is to make college entrance conditional on having worked 2 years, full-time, in a trade or service sector job. I encourage mikeWORKS to connect with local colleges and universities to let students know that there are other options beyond a degree in “? studies”. I recommend visiting campuses around middle October (midterms time) and May (end of the conventional academic year).

  63. Mike, since you are a pro at doing dirty jobs, why don’t you run for President? It is one of the dirtiest jobs in the country. You put into words that I have preached to those around me, people want a clean desk job and a large pay check for sitting there. I have been in the construction trades for my entire life with part of that a 20yr stint in municipal drinking water. Any ways….keep up the good work….time to get dirty!

  64. Mike,

    Thanks for promoting work with Jobs are essential to our economy and I know Governor Romney will be focused on jobs upon election. I hope he responds in a way to gain your vote. You set a great example by all the hard work that you do in front of and behind the cameras. Keep up the great work!. Jobs for all!

  65. I’m a Telco Installation and Repair tech in a very rural area. I takes about 2 weeks of company training, 1 month riding w/an experienced tech and then you’re on your own. It takes about 2 years to learn every quirk of the job. I have to crawl thru attics, under trailers and climbing poles. Nothing my debt laiden friends who chose college would ever consider doing. I get dirty, and tired! I can get called at any time. Especially during storms. The worse the weather, the harder I work. I make a comfortable living, and get a lot of fulfillment from my job. I will never get over the smile on somebodies face, who may have a sick family member, when I tell them that they can now call 911, worried friends & family etc.. if needed. And I don’t take work home w/me!

  66. Well said, again!! We have a small business and have very skilled people, not Doctors, or Doctors pay, but not too sure that what they do deserves a degree!!! thanks for all you are doing and keep up the fight!

  67. I’ve heard (no research or evidence-just hear-say) that at or about the time of Jesus, no respectable Jewish family would raise their sons without insuring that they learned a trade. The Apostle Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is an example – he was a well-known scholar – by his own admission having been trained by Gamaliel (a well respected scholar – a current day comparision of academic credentils would make him the equivalent of a Harvard-Grad.)

    But he was also a tent-maker, at earned his living as such.

    Interesting notes from Barnes (

    “Paul had been designed originally for a lawyer, and had been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel. But it was a regular custom among the Jews to train up their sons to some useful employment, that they I might have the means of an honest livelihood. Even though they were instructed in the liberal sciences, yet they deemed a handicraft trade, or some honorable occupation, an indispensable part of education. Thus, Maimonides (in the Tract Talin. Torah, chapter i., section 9) says, “the wise generally practice some of the arts, lest they should be dependent on the charity of others.” See Grotius. The wisdom of this is obvious; and it is equally plain that a custom of this kind now might preserve the health and lives of many professional people, and save from ignoble dependence or vice, in future years, many who are trained up in the lap of indulgence and wealth.”


  68. Mike,

    You nailed it. America is a land of opportunity. People have to start looking for the opportunity and not the government handout. Frankly THAT is the essence of the 2012 election campaign. Obama wants to grow the dependance and government handout route preaching despair, fear and envy. Romney-Ryan want Americans heads raised again and providing jobs, we can do this! They want to grow freedom to try, succeed or fail and try again, until you get your version of the American dream. No American dreams of their family living off government welfare. Americans want jobs, opportunity to succeed on their own. And you are correct, we have work opportunities that we ignore. Keep up the good work.

  69. I agree with Mike. My husband has been in Apartment Maintenance for over 25 years. He has a hard time getting help with the skills that he had when he was younger. Also, he is not appreciated by the company he works for with no raise in over 5 years because they feel he “makes what he is worth.” He has told me several times that if you have a “labor job” you are not looked at as an equal even thought they can’t rent the apartments or keep them filled if there is not anyone to fix or get the ready.

  70. Mike,
    Reading your writings – was impressed with your take on the disconnect. Thank you for making a difference. And for the people who wish to ‘bash you’ on who it is addressed to – they clearly did not read the WHOLE of your writings because at the end, there is clearly a P.S. stating you sent a similar letter to the other candidate 4 years ago. It is clear to see you’re not trying to make this political – rather you’re trying to make a difference for the working man by taking any measure you can to effect a difference. For that effort, I genuinely thank you. It Will make a difference Mike. You took a stand where so many are doing nothing, and that is much more than most of our ‘public servants’ are doing, or have done in decades.

  71. 70+ comments and I only found four references to something vital that is entirely missing from your letter as well – unions. I don’t see any references either to what the “Dirty Jobs” that you have sampled PAY. While there is an education factor, the fact of the matter is that in a civilization that worships at the alter of money, we don’t place much monetary value on those who allow us to be so civilized. We can always find someone to turn a wrench (or learn to turn a wrench), and such workers are therefore expendable. One political party has so denigrated unions under orders from the managers to the degree that what used to be a forum for laborers to collectively bargain with those who hold power is now only an “interest group”. That leaves tradesmen in a Darwinian struggle against those in charge and between each other. While there is nobility to the thought that there just “aren’t enough skilled workers”, every dime raised for mikeroweWORKS would be better spent organizing those in skilled trades to fight for better pay. Better pay and more stability in employment can grow respect for one’s profession faster than any education program. Fighting passively for respect through education is non – partisan and noble, but misses what’s really been pulling down those who make our “clean” lives possible.

  72. Mr. Rowe: WOW, what a letter. You have hit the nail on the head. While caring for my Mother in Boise, ID early this year, I saw you on KTVB. Needless to say, I was impressed.

    For way too many decades, our Nation has been moving so toward Degrees for future Tax payers. What the Nation has forgotten is that it takes all levels of Work, not just Educated, Degreed persons to make up the workforce of this Nation.

    My late Husband has told each one of our children, “I don’t care what you choose to do with your life. Even if you choose to be a Ditch Digger, do it with all your heart and do your best.” This is the attitude that the entire Nation needs to take. Keep pushing for the menial types of jobs as they are the backbone that keeps the rest of the machine working.

    Congratulations on the insight to send the same letter to another prospective President.


  73. Here in NE Colorado the oil/gas business if booming. I have customers who could hire welders, fabricators etc by the hundreds. There aren’t any or they won’t move here. In any case, I totally agree with your idea that we need to look much harder at community college voc programs.

    I do disagree that we don’t appreciate the hard workers because out here in rural America, we do, but probably not in the cities

  74. Love the letter and love the idea of rediscovering the great worth of the ‘worker’! Hope you keep up YOUR great work too!
    As a suggestion, you might want to get in touch with Michael Medved, a talk radio personality out of Seattle. He regularly devotes time on his show to extoll the virtues of trade schools and the notion that a 4 yr liberal arts degree isn’t the best choice for everyone. Would love to hear you on his show!

  75. AMEN Mr. Rowe I always knew I liked you and not for the obvious adoring reasons of you being on TV!!!! Way to go and well said! Our society has a lot of ‘quit’ in them! And I’m tired of picking up the slack. Again Thank you.
    Molli Frey SAHM of 4. While hubby works hard to provide for us and the rest of the government support checks }:

  76. Wonderfully said and critically important. Thank you so much for laying it out so well. Keep up the good work!

    Best regards,

    Andy St Pierre

  77. Mike…
    A very inspiring read. My mother supported three children working as a waitress-That is the term used then in the 60’s/70’s. Now, the term is “server” as if that gleans more respect! As a kid, I was made fun of by another girl based on what her mother said of mine. “Your mother is “just” a waitress!” I told my mother what she said and my mother replied, “It doesn’t matter what my job is, but it does matter that I work hard to keep a roof over your head. Remember THAT when you get a job that makes the money and pays the bills and that you are doing it for yourself. And–people who choose to mock others are probably not worthy of your friendship.”

  78. I knew there was a reason I fell in love with you back in your QVC days! You’ve always impressed me as somebody who knows how to get a job done. … Now in Dirty Jobs you illustrate that if one doesn’t have the skills necessary to do that, the pre-skilled worker figures out a way to learn them.

  79. THANKS for this great letter, Mike! And I believe Mitt Romney IS the proper person for this letter. I believe some mandatory percentage of the Federal aid to students should be for trade (vocational) schools… and should be paid to employers willing to give REAL on the job training in the skills. This country will ALWAYS need carpenters, plumbers, electricians, masons, iron workers, machinists… and I believe Mitt Romney (who knows BUSINESS) understands that. Who cares if Mitt never had to wield a pick axe? I didn’t either but I GET.IT. Just like Mike.

  80. Wonderful letter! I don’t know when this country lost the respect for unskilled and skilled laborers and put all the emphasis on college degrees. College degrees are great if needed for the job you want to do. My Dad was an avid reader and had a college “degree” without going to college! He was a maintenance machinist and could build and repair anything and was a very intelligent person. My children, equally intelligent, went in opposite directions. My daughter got a PhD in psychology and my son started his own business, a tree service but not until he graduated from a vocational high school with an emphasis in carpentry and worked with a plumber. He, like my Dad, could do anything. Where would we be without laborers…I certainly need them and appreciate their skills. I taught school for many years but I cannot repair my car, work on my plumbing, electricity or heating system when repairs are needed, etc. Three cheers for our laborers, skilled and unskilled, who are very much needed to continue to build our country and keep it running.

  81. Mike,
    Great letter! This really hit home to me. It made me think how my Dad taught me how to work with my hands. I also took vocational classes in high school. But I have failed to teach my sons how to do work with their hands I just kind of assumed that would come in time. Your letter inspires me to change course and start teaching my kids how to work with their hands (I just hope I dont get them killed or loose a digit or two). Thanks I agree we need to change the dialogue in this country and get our boys back to basics and do it with pride. Thanks again and I still love the show.

  82. Ditto what all the other comments say about your being so accurate in your letter. While I chose to go a different way (sales) – I often thought kids could make it big if they applied themselves in the trades. Like everything, the key word is to “Apply” your knowledge, efforts, and ambitions. Your’s is a good example. Thanks for sharing your opinion.

  83. Well here is to Mr. THD trying to tell Mike Rowe how evil and sinister Mitt Romney is…..

    Take a little look at what Romney happened to do in his spare time when he had no expectation of it being documented. The only way it was documented was that the elderly homeowner happened to pull out his personal camcorder because he was surprised to see Romney digging a stump of a fallen tree out of his front yard. This apparently is how Mormons roll. As a Methodist I don’t see eye-to-eye with Romney’s THEOLOGY, but I do agree on something more important, and that is his VALUES.

    Here is teh link =>

  84. Hello Mike,

    This is a great letter and I could not agree with you more. At 18 I left the family dairy farm in Northern Vermont for the US Air Force. I grew up in farming, logging, construction and carpentry. Every day I wish I could go back to it. Later in life I got into the fitness business and started my own line of equipment. That all ended the day that Bill Clinton’s Free Trade Amendment went into effect. Trade and import tariffs were slashed or eliminated and the price of steel quadrupled. We were already sliding down this slope but Clinton single handedly ended jobs in America. These days everyone talks about jobs but they have no understanding of the larger issues. Chiefly the difference between the old American System of Economics and the British Free Trade Model. As long as import tariffs, taxes and fees are low, it will be cheaper to manufacture overseas. As long as that happens, there will never be a return of jobs in the USA. And the worse the economy gets, the worse this situation gets as businesses desperately sprint overseas to stay afloat. That is the issue that has to get fixed first. Then everything else will fall into line.

    Thank you for keeping this issue in the open and never stop doing those dirty jobs!

    All the best,
    Nate Morrison

  85. Here is a 2nd response to Mr. THD trying to tell Mike Rowe how evil and sinister Mitt Romney is…

    Take a little look at this story about how the supposedly evil Mitt Romney shut down the entire Bain Capital company and flew the entire staff (30+ people IIRC) to NYC to organize a command post to find the missing daughter of an employee. Mr. THD, what is evil is your falsehoods.

    Here is the link ==>

  86. Mike,

    First, you have a great idea and are well placed to push it through –

    Second – the government has worked very hard to compete in such a way as to take away the “effort” – the DRIVE to take a job like you mention is very much dependent on the next best alternative.

    SO, if the GOV is going to give out a ton of free benefits (say over $30,000 in unemployment, Section 8 housing, Medicaid health insurance, Foodstamps, free jobs training etc. no tax obligations. . . ) you have to see that nobody wants to actually Work! What company can compete against that offer? What option would most people pick – Do almost nothing but watch cable TV and get the free goodies – or go take a hard – dirty – long hours – tough – sometimes dangerous job in which you could actually FAIL and be FIRED. Why would anyone take the job and all that risk?

    Third – regulations have made many ‘tougher’ jobs even tougher, less productive, and more expensive. The global market will not allow for these increased costs to pass through as Mexico, China, and most of South East Asia simply do not have all these regulatory hurdles. My company can’t pay what employees want or I go out of business – so I go without and so do they.

    All the best.

  87. As a representative of the US commercial fishing industry in New York, your letter is sincerely appreciated. I sincerely hope your extremely valid points will be addressed by whomever wins the election.

    We in the US have completely sustainable US fisheries resources on all coasts and Alaska, yet are losing commercial fishing infrastructure and commercial fishing-skilled tradesmen because of the influx of imported seafood, which represents about 85% of consumed seafood in the US. We need to increase our US share of seafood consumed in this country, and then educate the US consumer as to the importance of purchasing US seafood (which is regulated for sustainability) caught domestically, but will not be able to do so without the skilled labor force that you so eloquently speak of.

    Thank you for going the extra mile to promote those who do the Dirty Jobs here in the US.



    Bonnie Brady

    Long Island Commercial Fishing Association

  88. Mike my father is a teacher of automotive tech. in a large city in the NE. Unfortunately he’s been shipped between schools, as they close their auto and other vocational programs. It’s ridiculous. Not everyone should go to college, not when there is a huge shortage of skilled laborers. These kids want to learn, they want to do the work, and have a good job that will get them out of the ghetto. But the administrators NOT teachers set the agenda, and all they care about are their “college” entry statistics and how the sports teams do. It’s very frustrating and it’s the major reason there are a shortage of these laborers. Not everyone is geared to fix a car, but those who are are being left aside because of stupid laws like No Child Left Behind and others, to make principals and superintendents pad their resumes.

  89. Thanks Mike; You’re spot on, and I did read the whole thing!

    I’m a degreed engineer with an MBA, and at age 55 having started working full time when I was 20 (night school is a pain), the most important thing I know with all my education and experience is this: ALL work has value and deserves respect.

    Anyone that gets out of bed every day to go do a job to support themselves and their family deserves tremendous respect, regardless whether they clean toilets or design space shuttles.

    Most of my favorite jobs have involved fixing or building things, and frankly I got more satisfaction in doing them with hard tools than with the soft tools I use today (PC, internet & cel phone).

    Keep up the good work! Best regards, Jim.

  90. Wow. Somehow I like Mike even MORE.

    Here’s a quote for you:

    “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
    Thomas A. Edison
    US inventor (1847 – 1931)

  91. Thanks for all you do! I’m a college-trained engineering and scientist and I volunteer teach at various local schools. I see far too many kids willing to put themselves a few tens of thousands in debt for a college degree in “sports management” or some such but never considered a high-paying skilled labor job. There are many paths to lifetime success. Not all paths require an expensive college degree.

    My former college roommate went on to get an MBA followed by a Ph.D. He often mentions that his sister makes a great living, is happy, and leads a more relaxed life. She’s a plumber!

  92. This is a fantastic program and something I have been advocating to kids for quite some time. I will post this on my Facebook page and also on the Romney page. Thanks Mr. Rowe.

  93. “We are no longer impressed with cheap electricity, paved roads, and indoor plumbing. We take our infrastructure for granted, and the people who build it.”

    Awesomely stated.

  94. This is a great letter and I hope not only Mitt Romney reads it, but millions of others do to that need jobs. Nothing is wrong with good hard work. Too many now-a-days are taught that certian task are beneath them. No task is below anybody if you do it with an honest hard work ethic, to the best of your ability, to make an honest dollar. I have done task to make a living that would make many people puke to think about doing, and I know you know what that is like. At the end of the day, whatever I had as pay I knew I had earned it. I remember my Dad telling me when I was young an adage you rairly hear anymore. It was “There are a lot of things you can do in life to make a living. I don’t care what you do as long as it’s honest. If you choose to be a ditch digger, you make sure you dig the best ditches possible and make sure you give the man that hired you an honest days work”. People today are looking for easy money and not willing to take jobs that are beneath them. Well if they want to eat, unless they are proven mentally and physically incapable of some kind of work, any work, then they should should be working. Let the ones who won’t work have their belly-buttons bite their back bone a little while. Don’t make it easy for them, they’ll get to work. I have seen times I lived off I would buy one cheap meal a day, (there wasn’t a way to cook where I was living), and the rest of the meals consisted of sandwiches made from loaf bread, peanut butter, and honey. That was it. A real honest work ethic needs to be re-instilled in this country, taking pride in what ever task you do to make a living, and honoring and respecting those who work hard to provide for themselves and their families, no matter what that task is, as long as it’s honest and legal.

  95. Yes! Yes! Yes! I completely agree and I hope Mitt Romney not only responds to your offer but makes this subject a central theme in his campaign. mikeroweWORKS looks like a great initiative. I had no idea it existed until I stumbled upon a link to this letter. Keep up the great work you do!

  96. Thanks for the thought-provoking piece. Interesting how your voice is a pretty lonely one—not hearing this message anywhere else in the media.

    In the high schools in my area, courses like Auto Shop, Wood Shop, Electronics, Drafting, etc. seem to be closing down as soon as the aging teacher retires–or sooner. ROP (Regional Occupation Programs) are being cut with budgets. School administrators are constantly badgered to raise standardized test scores, so skills like shop skills, which are UN-measureable on standardized tests, are to be ignored.

    Vocational training programs have been replaced with the misguided notion that ALL students are college bound. All High School are not college bound, nor should they be. Not everyone is born with the ability (or desire) to successfully complete a college degree program. This is not a problem, it is simply the reality of humanity–an example of biological diversity–some people are exceptionally good at complex math while others are exceptionally good wiring a new home.

    Obviously, this devaluing of honest labor has had deep, consequential effects on American society. I would venture to guess that if 12 year old boys like my son were encouraged by their parents to mow lawns for money, we would have fewer illegal aliens doing that work–but today’s parents generally don’t encourage such things. My son finds it difficult to imagine that I delivered newspapers at 5am in urban San Francisco when I was only 10–and that my mother pleaded with the company to let me do it when I was 9 1/2!

    Several men in my circle of acquaintances sit home while collecting unemployment–waiting for a sufficiently white collar job to be offered to them…yet jobs driving trucks, busing tables etc. are plentiful. It is incomprehensible to me that a husband/father would prefer to sponge off society that take a job involving manual labor.

    Mike, you have scratched the surface of what is a major societal issue confronting our troubled nation. Thank you!

  97. Mike,

    As fans of Dirty Jobs, my wife and I are pleased that you put yourself out there in this fashion. It’s clear from everything that you have done and continue to do on the show that you do, in fact, have a deep appreciation for the people that make this country work doing the jobs so many of us take for granted. I hope that you do hear back from Gov. Romney, and that he takes you up on your proposal. There’s no question that this country needs to wake up to the value of hard work and that will be a big step toward getting America working again.

    Thanks again.

  98. I think I luv u Mike Rowe!! You have hit the nail on the head!! I am a healthcare proffesional but however, my grandfather was a journey man at the Tank plant, My day was an auto worker and my husband is a forman for a asphalt paving crew. People act like they are too good to do these jobs, they just keep drawing unemployment becasue it is easier. We need more technical and skilled trade education oppurtunities post hight school than four year schools. This is a wondeful letter and I WILL SHARE with as many people as I can!!!!!

  99. Hi Mike.

    I’m a fellow colleague in dirty jobs (well…honesty requires that I found a desk job 5 years ago). In high school and college I work restaraunt service work and summer construction jobs. After graduating from college I ended up making a career in the environmental services industry which is a very, very dirty job. I’ve been covered from head to toe with just about every form of waste product you can think of. On the upside I’ve also been well paid and I no longer require a night light. I’ve also had the advantage of working with men and women of most of the skilled trade profession who, in the early stages of my career, affectionately nicknamed me “Fetch”, as in for god sakes do something useful and fetch that tool for me. For almost 20 years I worked in the field getting dirty with these people making our great country cleaner and safer for all of us and you’re spot on right. They are not appreciated. These skilled tradesmen, millrights, pipefitters, fabricators, masons, electricians, machinist, mechanics, etc, have truly valuable skills, incredible imagination, unstoppable optimism, hugely productive and impossibly patient (hell they put up with me for 20 years) are the people who literally built this nation and make it work, really, really well, for all of us. Thank you so much for getting them the recogniton and respect they desever……the respect they have EARNED and keep up the good work in supporting these American heros!

  100. I like the idea of your project, giving training and dignity to underappreciated jobs.

    You say you have no political agenda and yet you say you will vote for Mr. Romney if he reads your letter in total.

    I think your project has a better chance of success if you leave partisan politics out of it. You showed more than a bit of ego with your line about not hearing back from President Obama. Yes the first four years are the hardest so he may have had some more critical things on his plate you think?

    Good Luck with your project.

  101. Mike – I couldn’t agree with your thoughts and comments more.

    My brother went off to college 20+ years ago, because that’s what my parents said you did. 3 and 1/2 years and almost $100,000 later he left the Higher Ed experience without a degree and never looked back. While I know he enjoyed his time there, none of it really prepared him for his true passion in life (working with his hands). And in the long run it just left my parents desperately in debt.

    For him, he would have been much better served going straight into an apprentice/trade school to develop and fine tune the skills he’s gathered since then. He’s in the construction business and is skilled in all aspects of that work. From framing to finishing, he can do it all. He’s also the most amazing cook I know. He lives one of the most fulfilling lives around. I’ll be honest, it’s not traditional, but it gives him the freedom and ability to do things that he enjoys the most. He works hard (and gets dirty), but he also plays hard, and I am very proud of him.

    The pushing of the Higher Ed route as the only way to success in life is killing our society. A generation has been raised who doesn’t want to do the “dirty work” but expects it to miraculously happen. I see it in other areas too – youth programs which depend on parent volunteers to make things happen, but nobody is willing to volunteer. For the skilled laborers out there it means they are always in demand and can expect higher wages, but it also means that unless folks follow in their footsteps, their skill sets will slowly be lost and the infrastructure that truly makes the world go round will come to a halt.

    The message has to change – and I hope and pray your letter will reach the right ears – to help us begin make that change!

    In the interim, our family and friends are trying to think differently about the children we are raising. We remind ourselves constantly to look at each child individually, helping them to see where they excel (everyone is good at something) and encouraging them to follow that passion. For some that will lead them to Higher Ed, but for more it can and should lead down a different road.

    Love your show – keep up the good work!

  102. Mike,

    I am impressed with your keen analysis of what is a real gap in our preparations for the next generation for work. We do not value enough the importance of the skilled trades or the value in learning by doing. As someone who straddles a couple of worlds, I am also a Navy officer in the reserves, I find too few young people embarking on vocational paths. Whenever I go to the market for skilled trades, I find the profiles to be second and third career technicians (largely self taught) who are close to or past middle age. I do not see enough new talent entering this area and I worry about the gap this is creating in our nation.

    Keep up the good work and I would be delighted to host you at our factory, in your old stomping grounds of Baltimore, to meet some of the American workforce heroes.


    Jonathan Jett-Parmer, PE


  103. Mike,

    This is great and I am not just talking about this letter, I am referring to your work on this subject. It has always amazed me how my friends have viewed themselves above jobs that are readily available. I think you have hit the nail on the head. As a society we have began to look down on the jobs that built this country and made us the great nation we once were. There was a time when American pride meant being proud of our willingness to role our sleeves up, get a little dirty and do the work that needed to be done. We could be proud of our work ethic and the results the hard work produced. Somewhere along the way we began thinking this work is beneath us. For us to restore the economic strength we once enjoyed as a country we need to return to this jobs, acknowledge them for their importance and the skill they require. Thank you for your efforts. Maybe if this letter goes unheaded (assuming governor Romney is in a position to head it) you should consider running for president in four years!

  104. Mr. Rowe, I and my two young sons (3 and 5) love your show. They can’t wait to explain to me what happens to garbage or how we could fix the shower drain. Long may it last.

    I can’t tell you how sad it make me to see young men in their late teens and 20s who….don’t know how to change the oil in their cars or wouldn’t dream of opening up the case of their computer when it makes a terrible noise…or who think (because they’re told, damn it!) that getting a job and cleaning dishes or cutting grass instead of staying at a desk studying “AP Government” (whatever THAT is) is some kind of defeat, a loser’s game.

    I’m about to send a $40 check to the Romney campaign. I’m going to include a note strongly recommending they ask Mr. Romney to read your letter — and, even better, give you a call to discuss your experience and the very important points you make.

    I bet if 1,000 of your readers did the same, the campaign would sit up and take notice. $40,000 and 1,000 votes is the tip of a mighty big iceberg, to the observant man.

    Best of luck.

  105. Mike, you’re making a big mistake on this one. So big, I implore you to retract this letter.

    No one is more of a friend to skilled labor, no one is doing more to promote skills training, no one is doing more to create new jobs in alternative energy, manufacturing, and infrastructure than the Democratic party and Barack Obama. Did you forget about who saved the auto industry? Do you not know that manufacturing has grown under Obama at the fastest pace in over a decade? To address this appeal to Romney, the man who made his fortune bankrupting labor intensive companies and shipping the skilled and worthwhile jobs to China, is a double insult.

  106. Unfortunately, President Obama lacks the talent of being able to pick the right person for the right job, but I don’t think Mitt Romney has that problem. He’d be crazy not to take you up on your offer—who else can talk about Work with as much credibility as you? Plus, I’m sure he knows a good deal when he sees one.

    Great letter, Mike. I’m sure Gov. Romney will see this eventually… I’m crossing my fingers for a Romney/Ryan win!

  107. God Bless you! mikeroweWORKS says it all really.

    There are some leaders in a few public schools doing something similar – making education about character, contribution, and opportunity. In the worst of circumstances too, where neither values nor valuables are often found.

    I think this is as close as it gets to a credible means of turning this country around. And I shall see if I can bring this to the attention of some of those Romney supporters, as I have decided to become one too – as I am sick and tired of crying over the future I see for my great-grand-children and indeed for my whole Country.

  108. Mike, love your work and this initiative. When Governor Romney was in Massachusetts he actually did something very similar to what you’ve done as an apprentice -he launched a campaign called Mitt’s work days in which he rolled up his sleeves and went to work for a different company and industry every day- he met tons of people from all walks of life and developed a great deal of respect for the working men and women of this state. As it happened he went on to beat a democrat in a state that is majority democratic and despite what our current governor told a nationalaudience earlier this week Mitt was pretty popular and governed well. Here’s hoping he responds to your letter since I am sure he would agree with you 100 percent!

  109. Mike, as a high school teacher, I can agree that I preach the 4 year university more than skilled labor. That was what I did; it’s what I know how to do. I’m interested in bringing the conversation about skilled labor to my classroom, but I feel so inadequate on it. Any suggestions?

    Mrs. Goodell

  110. I’ve watched your commercials for various products, not knowing exactly who you are and what you do. Your column is so badly needed! I ran a garment factory in South Mississippi for 20 years, and watched that industry disappear in this country. You are absolutely correct. Our sewing machine mechanics literally had to find new vocations – what a waste.

    Our 29 year old has proven your point to a tee. He is a self-taught software developer, with 2 semesters of Junior College, but with at least 15 years of plying his intuitive skill with everything related to computers, web design, etc…and virtually no higher education. Mr Rowe, I knew we were in trouble when George Bush(who I voted for twice) gave, as an explanation for immigration reform, the premise that illegal immigrants will do work Americans won’t. THAT IS A RED FLAG for us all! Please let me know what I can do to help.

  111. Wow, Mike Rowe, I am impressed. I hope Mitt Romney contacts you. All of the male members of my extended family – uncles, cousins, dad – all worked with their hands at a trade and while they didn’t make fortunes, they did make a living and a life – good ones.

    I, like you, don’t think college is for everyone and nowadays, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, all make very good livings. I know a guy who started at age 13 shoveling snow and then expanded into mowing lawns and after high school with one truck, he started a landscaping business which has grown into a multi-million dollar operation.

    So you can “build” something and do way better than most people with college degrees.

    Thanks for speaking up.

  112. Are you kidding Mike Rowe? Mitt Romney has never worked an honest hard day’s work in his life? Do you really think he would get his hands as dirty as your are? BAHAHAHAHA….

    He might watch your show and laugh at you, but he doesn’t give two craps about hard dirty work like you do and those you represent!

  113. “I must study politics and war, that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, natural history and naval architecture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, tapestry, and porcelain.” – John Adams

    This quote describes our problem today. John would have gotten it right if he’d stopped at mathematics, philosophy, etc. Instead, we as a nation have been indoctrinated to believe that everyone can be an artist or a poet or engage in some esoteric career. The reality is that we still need plumbers, and electricians, and builders, and all of the other trade professions and that need isn’t going away. Ever.

    Thank you for reminding everyone that hard (and dirty) work can be as noble and certainly can be more valuable than sitting in an air conditioned office coming up with the latest tweet.

  114. Mike, thank you so much for recognizing that success doesn’t necessarily mean a college degree. I am a public school teacher with a master’s degree, and while I myself chose to pursue an occupation that requires a college education, I inform children every day that a successful career does not require a college education, but it does require some sort of continuing education. We talk about college, but we also talk about trade schools, certificate programs, apprenticeships, and other choices that are available for after high school. In short, I’m pretty darn sure that my electrician, who doesn’t have a college degree, makes a bigger salary than I do!

  115. Mr. Rowe.
    First off let me say I am a big fan of your work. I teach 8th grade in a rural middle school. I too have been a cheerleader for skilled labor encouraging students and parents to consider out local VoTech school. As a student I went to VoTech and used those skills to help put my self through college as a carpenter. It was the time I spent on hot roofs, framing houses in February and meeting deadlines that showed me what hard work was about. I am concerned that our schools have lost their way. We teach kids to read and interpret literature not how to read a technical manual or a set of building codes. Mr. Rowe keep up the great work. Lets hope “they” listen.

  116. I couldn’t agree with you more. I owned an Electronics Service business for 23 years. None of my employees had a college degree. There are many good paying skilled labor jobs out there. Mitt Romney should embrace your goals.

  117. Mike, you are exactly right. I really wish that when I was in high school (20 years ago) I would have been encouraged to learn a trade instead of go through college. The only kids pushed through vo-tech were, I hate to say it, “losers” who weren’t going to make it anywhere. Guys like me, who could have been turned into top-notch mechanics, plumbers, electricians, etc, were pushed into years of college to get jobs doing…what? Every single day, even in this continuing tough economy, there are ads in the help wanted begging for skilled tradesmen. The change has to start in each town in America. Schools have been shuttering shop classes (and home ec, for that matter) for years upon years. Parents need to understand that trades are not dead-end, quite the opposite. Thanks for your work on this!

  118. Go Mike!

    Liberal academia discredited and destroyed this country’s greatest economic asset: the largest technical training system the world has ever known. America’s trade schools and apprenticeship programs were the envy of the world. It’s why we won WWII and the Cold War. By the mid-90’s it had almost totally disintegrated, along with the highest paying skilled trades jobs in the world. Liberal academics sold everyone in this country a bill of goods – that a liberal arts degree was the key to personal economic success. In fact, the millions who flocked to universities succeeding only in inflating academic salaries and operating expenses while burying themselves in debt. They walked out with useless degrees, no skills and no prospects. Make some noise, Mike. Hopefully they’ll hear you.

  119. Mike:

    As a viewer of Dirty Jobs, I’ve been a TV fan for a number of years. I completely agree with your foundation’s goals and your statements. Not everyone is cut out for college and college is not for everyone. There is a negative stigma surrounding the “grease monkey” type jobs, yet those jobs oftentimes pay more than the “average” college degree required job. There needs to be a refocusing of resources (funds, teachers, equipment) towards vocational programs in schools in order to create qualified job candidates. The defunding of public education began long before Obama took office and I seriously question whether Romney would have the intestinal fortitude to do some of the dirty jobs you’ve done. In all fairness, did you have this type of open forum when you submitted your letter to then-candidate Obama? Did you follow up with him after he won the election? Did you present this to either Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, or Hilda Solis, the Labor Secretary? If not, you’ve not given the Obama administration an equal opportunity to process this “open” letter. The Democrats are much more amenable and accepting of the Blue Collar, diversified workforce typically profiled in Dirty Jobs. I respectfully ask that you address this letter to both President Obama AND Governor Romney and request an open reply on this forum – or in their debates. A level playing field is deserved by everyone.

    Good luck with the foundation. I hope it’s successful.

  120. Mike,

    You may have found a more receptive audience than you realize. Mitt Romney was born in 1947, to a father who grew up dirt poor and never went to college. George Romney started his “career” by working on potato farms in Idaho at age 11. Later, he was trained as a plaster and lath carpenter, and worked in that trade for many years. When Mitt was born, George Romney was working in Detroit for an auto company, after having spent WWII boosting war production in over 600 auto related plants that had been converted. After he was hired by the company that becanme American Motors, the leader of that company died suddenly, and George was asked to take over the nearly bankrupt firm. He cut his own pay, (taking nearly all of it in stock options). He went down to the factory floor and talked to the workers. When his “hands-on” leadership saved the company and boosted the stock by 1500% – George Romney became a rich man -and he earned every penny. While heading AMC, and during 3 terms as Governor – he still took the time to install a work ethic in his kids. Those who went to school with them said “You could never do anything with a Romney on a Saturday” – his father worked them too hard. It is that WORK ETHIC that made Mitt Romney a success in life. There are numerous examples of when Mitt Romney took time out of his schedule to help people with physical work. Once when campaigning near San Diego, his son ran into a wildfire victim who needed help removing a huge stump. Matt Romney said – “let me get some people who will help” – one of which turned out to be Mitt Romney skillfully running a chainsaw. People will find out who the real Mitt Romney is – they will have 8 years to do so.

  121. Sir,

    I am a professional gunsmith. I own my own shop in Harrington Maine. I am appalled by the fact that NONE of the high schoolers I meet these days have any sort of vocational programs in their schools anymore. When I was a kid, we had wood working shops, machine shops, and auto mechanics classes in the local high schools. These days kids don’t have a clue what a lathe is, let alone how one works.

    I’ve had NO LESS than 9 apprentices that never made it past a few days in my shop. THEY ALL asked me if I could teach them how to be a gunsmith. The first 9 failed NOT because I’m difficult to work for, but because they lacked the basic math skills required to do what I do with the machinery in my shop. They all quit once they saw what was required for them to learn. Fortunately, the 10th one stuck it out and is learning what he needs to know. Gunsmithing ( a REAL gunsmith ) needs to understand math, metallurgy, firearms design, and needs to know how to think outside the box when it comes to being able to diagnose and correct firearms related problems. It ain’t rocket science nor does it require a mechanical engineering degree. Just a desire to learn something.

  122. Found this on Facebook, Nancy Gaither posted it. “You really ought to go around to different areas in our country and have an assembly for multiple schools and talk about all the different jobs you have had the opportunity of performing over the years. i was just having this conversation with my uncle the other day. I told him i was going to get a certificate in making and pastry arts. he told me that i would have no chance of getting a decent paying job without getting a degree. I asked him, what does taking english, history, or gym have to do with making cakes? Why put myself in more debt just to get a job? I am 110% with you on this. a lot of high-paying jobs are not taught in classrooms, they’re learned through hands-on training. People take way too much for granted and think money is just going to appear in front of them. I may only be 22, but sitting around not working as hard as I possibly can is boring to me. it makes me feel like I’m stealing money from my employer and VERY lazy. I don’t know how people can do that. I really hope Romney reads your letter and makes this a huge part of his campaign. What I read makes my actually want to vote this year.

    Hopefully you come back to the area soon. Abby Disney wants an updated picture with you. I would love to get to see you next time you are in town. Love your show. Mom(Nancy) and Scott Disney want to see you.

  123. I work in an industry that provides labor of all types to companies like Caterpillar. We recruit shop floor assembly workers as well as design engineers. I can hire all the engineers I need but cannot get people to take the shop floor positions. The primary response is I can do better on unemployment. While that is a true statement for the first few months, those that persevere receive quick increases and additional opportunites but it does not seem to matter. So, my question is how do we get the perception of manual labor respectable and companies align in the valuation of those employees?

  124. Mike,

    You have uncovered the real “class war” in this country. The middle class expects to show up in their air-conditioned glass box workplace, push paper around (or, lately, emails) and make enough money to pay for a luxury house and luxury cars, whether or not they actually create any wealth themselves. Our whole economy is increasingly moving away from people creating wealth by making things and toward business models based on separating fools from their money.

    College has become a middle-class finishing school, where graduates think they entitled to comfortable, well-paying jobs whether or not they actually have any marketable skills to offer. Attending college has become an end in itself, without regard for what is being learned there, if anything.

    If you work with your hands, you’re probably either in business for yourself or you have to punch a clock and get permission to go the bathroom. Many people who have college degrees look down their nose at those who don’t. I have heard them speak their minds.

    How much does this historical picture resonate?

    “But in Hungary, as in most of Eastern Europe, higher education was heavily oriented toward the humanities … Everyone aspired to a cultured, genteel way of life (aping the aristocracy, of course); it was not fashionable to think of education as something acquired for practical reasons. When a university graduate when to a business to look for a job, he usually found that if there were openings, he was either not trained for them or not willing to accept them for fear of loss of prestige. What he really wanted to be was a leisured executive, burdened more with social obligation than business decisions.”

    — Walters, *The Other Europe*

    We have to put a stop to this sorry trajectory, and we have to do it now.

  125. Hi Mike, I’m a combat veteran, I have been looking for work for over 5 years now since I was operated on and deemed no longer useful to the US army, I would do anything, thank you for this chance to be able to talk about how we feel.

  126. I first have to say my son and I both love your show. Especially when it related to one of the many odd jobs I’ve done in the past… I have to agree whole hartedly with you about the job problem here. As a former technology education teacher (used to be called shop) I saw that todays high schools look at vocational courses as places to “DUMP” trouble makers and slackers… I think a basic Shop class should be required for all students. When over 90% of your students couldn’t tell you the difference between a ball pien hammer and a claw hammer there is a problem…

  127. I fully agree Mike.

    From 1994 to 2007, I was a construction subcontractor. I had worked in the field as well as managed construction projects for quite a few years before 1994. I started out as a one man show, eventually evolving into a company with between 4 and 5 crews in the field. A lot of the guys that worked for me actually had college degrees, but didn’t really fit into corporate jobs. They were smart, able, and willing to learn. And they wanted to work. I hired them.

    Some came to me with few skills, only to find themselves the lead on a crew in a year or two . I was blessed with fast learners, who were responsible and showed up for work each day. I was also blessed with a lead on one of my crews who was very skilled and able to teach. He is now a carpentry instructor at a community college, teaching future generations the skills to build and work.

    In 2007, I saw the impending economic downfall coming. I had been worn down by mountains of government paperwork, edicts, rules, TAXES (capitalized for emphasis), etc. I closed my company, mentored my employees and helped them start their own companies.

    I moved from North Carolina to Tennessee, mainly to escape oppressive taxes. Maybe someday I will start another company and start teaching a new generation of builders. But the business environment will have to change drastically. I just don’t have the energy to keep fighting the government and paying them for the privilege.

    We do need an alternative to college track education. That has all but evaporated in today’s world. It’s college or nothing. I am not downplaying a college degree. I have one myself in engineering and it has served me well for 30 years in the construction industry.

    When I was young, vocational school would give many an avenue to pursue a trade instead of going to college. It was effective, bringing forth new mechanics, welders, masons, beautician, carpenters, sheet metal fabricators, and other trades too numerous to name. How education became single track, shoehorning all kids into one choice I’ll never know. It was foolish.

    After closing down my company and moving to another state, I ran large commercial construction projects for a few years before being laid off. Jobs are few and far between, and while skilled jobs are needed, there are geographical pockets where building is going on. It’s not across the board and across the nation. We also need more than skilled workers. We need work for them to do.

    Many things must change. I hope they do. We can’t afford too many more years of what we have.

    Bill Hall

  128. Pingback: I really, really like this guy
  129. Hi Mike, thanks for encouraging kiddoes to pursue skilled labor careers but don’t forget us adults who need a change!

    I am a mid-career white collar office drone with 3 college degrees, and gratefully but miserably employed. If I could afford to quit my current job and go back to vo-tech school and/or apprentice in a trade I would do so in a heartbeat. I can and will relocate anywhere, I love learning new skills, and all I need is a steady income and the chance to make a living doing something I can be proud of, and doing well for my employer (or my own business).

    Every aptitude test I have ever taken validates that I would excel in practical, hands-on type work such as skilled trades. Too bad I did not learn this BEFORE I got on the college track and wasted half my working years so far! I haven’t given up trying to change careers, but it just seems more hopeless these days… 🙁

  130. Mike –

    So glad I stumbled across this. We face an identical crisis here in Australia. In 1971 a new left government promised every child a university education if they wanted it and, at the same time, demeaned all those time honoured roles that had built this country. We have a massive skills shortage for every vocation that doesn’t offer a corner office and a wall to hang your degree. Only migration and temporary working visas have allowed us to keep moving forward.

    We have had multiple governments since 1971 – left, right and centre, but none has been willing to seriously tackle this issue.

    I’ll be linking to your site from our FB page later today. Our 21k fans will, I believe, strongly support your stance, regardless of their politics.

    David Wilks

  131. Mike, you are right on track. We have inflated the value of a college education to a point that they are almost worthless. Skills and experience and drive will make for a successful life in this country. It is sad when your senior in high school is not proud of the fact that they are not going to college, but instead going to tech school. Funny though when you see ads for the ITT techs of the world that give students both, hands on and a degree. The traditional college is a giant waste of money due to tuitions and fees that have no basis in reality.

    I just got a patent for an advanced wind/solar electric generator, a true wind turbine, not an advanced windmill. I did this all by my self with no degree in physics or engineering or a degree at all. I did go to college, but was not motivated that way. Too creative for them. Drive and persistence is the real key. 2 Nobel winners liked it so much one is now a part of the company. It took over two years to get a patent, we need 5000 more patent examiners instead of IRS agents so our countries ideas can become more economic prosperity.

    Like all the other commenters here, except the Obama trolls, this is the real national employment problem and solveable by stressing real world skills in high school. It is sad that they are dead set against kids learning basic accounting and economics instead of more trig and calculus. Basic day to day money management instead of stressing them about classes that have no real value in a real daily life.

    I think that Mitt should make you Sec. Of Labor/jobs.

    Keep up the good work.


  132. Thank you, Mike. I am a teacher. I and many of my colleagues, while appreciating the value of higher education, see many children in our classrooms for whom that is not the best route. Education today is being pushed by forces in politics and business to improve test scores to compete with other nations. What we are not being asked is who will actually be working in this country in the future. The idea that college is not out of reach for any child who wants to pursue that path is a fine one but the driving force in education needs to recognize the value of the trades and skilled workers as you have said. Society needs to wake up and appreciate the foundation of this country. Thanks for speaking up, Mike.

  133. This is a great article- I never leave comments on anything but feel the need to leave one here.

    As the whole idea of college education as a “bare necessity” of being anything other than a slack-jawed knuckle dragger has gained more and more ground, the actual value of a college education has gone down in similar proportion. One of the first things you will probably read about (mind you I didn’t say “learn” because in college you do a lot of reading but not a lot of learning) is supply and demand dictating price. Supply goes down, price goes up so long as demand remains constant, and all that.

    I am an attorney so obviously I went the college route (had quite a few colorful “deviations” from the path in there also, but thats another story).

    I am fortunate to have a good law practice going BUT I constantly get other attorneys who are not as fortunate wanting to work for me. They have offered services as low as $20-25 an hour. I know multiple attorneys that are making 40-50k per year.

    I also know a carpenter who is making 75k, and a plumber who is making close to 100k. I even know a cab driver that makes more than some lawyers I know.

    My girlfriend owns a business and she put out an ad for an assistant on craigslist. $28k per year (that’s $14 an hour). She was so overwhelemed with resumes (400 or so of them in a few hrs as i recall, almost all college grads) that she had to repost the ad at an even lower salary just so she could get a manageable amount of responses.

    Someone should tell kids in school about supply and demand, and let them know that there are way too many office drones who sit around on facebook for a living, and not enough people who actually make things that people can use, and consequently, the pay for facebook drones is in the toilet, and the pay for people in the trades is getting higher. MAybe that will convince people some. Money usually does…

    The sad fact that I am not proud of is that I myself, even in spite of my rational mind knowing better, perhaps due to the conditioning we are subjected to, still have those “I am better than” feelings towards those in the trades. This is a powerful stigma and very real. Thanks for the post, I hope a lot of people read it.

  134. My family finds itself in the opposite problem. My husband has worked hard all his life and now can’t work like he did at 20. He has had his spine fused and that failed. He has excellent work ethics but his body has given out. He is noe desperately looking for a college degree so he can use his brain instead of his back. He’s never been afraid of hard work but it isn’t in his future.

  135. Mike, I totally agree with you. Everyone is always pushing the college degree and that’s fine but if you do not have skilled craftsman that do hands on (dirty jobs) then America would not be what it is today. We need more people that want to get dirty. When I was in school over 20+ years ago I was introduced to the wood shop where I learned to use tools of the trade and we built sheds and sold them to buy more tools for the schools so that students could learn how to build and become skilled laborers. Today I work a full time job and still run a side business doing remodeling. The most enjoyment I get is when you take something,change it, and seeing the end result. Continue to push your foundation for young kids of the future. Keep doing the dirty jobs, we love watching your show.

  136. Amen and thank you! I have a 20 year old son that is learning and working in welding. It’s not a consolation prize. It’s a choice. I love and support him. We need to support the view that hard work is good and honorable and necessary. Our country depends on it.

  137. Hey Mike,

    My first husband left me with two kids and no skills or any kind real support. I used the system as it was 20 years ago to feed us and house us while I used the federal student loan program to put my self through college. What a joke. When I finally got out after 10 years, I’m still not employable in the sense of something more than minimum wage because I have a skillset that is so esoteric. I finally knuckled down and learned how to farm. I’ve started small, mostly my yard, but I produce a phenomenal amount of food. If I had it to do all over again, I would have gone to beauty school. Or nursing school or any thing that didn’t have “liberal arts” attached to it anywhere. Thanks for a great show and a reminder that my truck driving parents did good things too!

  138. PS. My son is working at becoming a electrical “line man” and my daughter is going to nursing school. Shrug, they learned from my experience too!

  139. My “Man-Crush” for Mike Rowe has been solidified forever. ha!

    Brought a tear to my eye Mike.

    As someone with an advanced education (Masters in Genetics) I can tell you that one of the primary reasons I went to college in the first place was a feeling I was getting that I was somehow a low-class grunt (Back when I was an airplane mechanic). Honestly, I enjoyed that work more than all the jobs I have done since getting ‘educated’ by today’s standards of what an education should be.

    Society looks down on Blue Collar trades and Stay-at-Home Moms and it’s high-time we changed that attitude and got back to solid American principles once again. Who knows, maybe some day the grid goes down and those things we take for granted are gone. People with trade skills will be the ones in the Cat Bird’s Seat.

  140. Would you like to send a similar letter to our neck of the woods. It’s about time practical skills were taught again in the classroom.

  141. You do realize that many high schools do, in fact, offer skills based education. At the high school where I teach, we have welding, computer repair, auto tech, metals fabrication, printing and construction programs. Many of these programs lead directly to certification through a joint co-op with the local community college. To say that teachers discourage students from seeking employment outside of a 4 year college degree is an unfair generalization of the type used to endorse cuts to education.

    It’s a fact that Romney plans to cut education funding which will in turn limit the number of skilled laborers. While I understand that many people can join apprenticeship programs to learn trades, they usually do so with depressed wages and poor job security. Supporting further development of vocational ed in high schools and community colleges makes the most sense, and would be funded more heavily under Obama.

  142. Mike,

    Pretty sure you didn’t intend to be cruel, “Though schizophrenic and void of any actual qualifications,”. I can guarantee you know someone who has that issue and must of been a kick in the gut having enjoyed working with you on your show. The mentally ill have it difficult enough without it being socially acceptable to make fun of them and that stigma is a reason many don’t get treatment and treat themselves with alcohol and drugs. Be the change Mike, from today on please don’t make fun of the mentally ill and do your best to help change the hearts of those that do!

    Thank you!

  143. Dear Mike,

    Your show is a family favorite in our house. I’ve been so discouraged by the way children who would be perfect in the trades are unable to qualify to get into VoTech schools. The regular high schools don’t have much time for them if they are not college bound. Even in VoTech, they are prepared to attend college instead of concentrating on the trades. Honestly, I believe it’s a problem that should be addressed through the states as well as Congress. We saw a serious change in the system once the “no child left behind” program began. These children are left behind in a big way. The trades are struggling to find qualified employees but our schools are just trying to get those students that are hands on and would be very successful in the trades to graduate. It is sad and we wonder how we will be able to find employees in the future. Unions may say that they will train young people but how many people can afford to build their houses with union labor? I think we all need to start fighting our school systems and make them stop making these children feel like they have no future if they don’t attend college.

  144. When I was in High School class of ’83, they offered Auto Shop, Wood Working, Building Maintenance. Now days you are hard pressed to find a school that offers such trade training.

    Nobody wants their kid to be a construction worker, a truck driver, a farmer, or any of those other blue collar jobs. This is the major problem we face as a country, everyone wants a job in an air conditioned office.

  145. Mike you are so correct. I grew up in a rural area that only a few went on to higher education the rest of us went to a trade school or OJT (on the job training). I had an agri teacher tell me “Kenny not everyone needs to go to college we need ditch diggers, too.” So true he was, I joined the Air Force and served proudly for 24 years learned a trade, telephone lineman, and it put me on the right path. I’m not trying to recruit for the military but it’s an alternative to even trade schools. You get training and paid and at the end of the 4 you can choose to continue with the military or move on to bigger and better opportunities. Thank you.

    Kenny Kyle

  146. Ah College. I went to a “good” college and most of the people I graduated with at least who I was friends with and kept up with found decent jobs. The ones who struggled were the ones who got degrees in unneeded professions. I got a degree in engineering and have never been unemployed since graduating 7 years ago all while making a legit salary. College is great, if you get a degree in something useful. Tech schools should really be seen in a higher regard. I know guys who are electricians etc who make a good living and didn’t have to take on anything even close to the amount of debt I had to to get started. More people should point this out to kids. We push college on kids like just the act of going makes you employable and it’s just not true. For the ones taking on mountains of debt just to end up unemployed we’re doing them a disservice.

    Also shame on the colleges for even offering a useless degree. They should be curtailing their degrees to give kids the ability to get a job in not only the future economy but the present economy.

  147. I have been working in the hospitality industry for the last sixteen years and the question I filed the most from middle aged bar guest is what are your plans for the future? I am never shocked by the question but it always makes me stop and think. Why do people not consider bartenders and servers a legitimate career. We work holidays, weekends and deal with the general public which 90% of the time is intoxicated. We tend to work long shifts and accumulate over 40hrs a week with no benefits. We need to start moving forward as a society and appreciate our neighbors trade. Thank you for taking the time to look after the average Joe and help bring awareness to the job market. Keep getting Dirty.


    John Sammel

  148. I would like to thank Mike as well. I do believe that trade jobs are as important as teaching careers. How else would we have food on our tables and houses to live. I commend Mike Rowe for setting up a fund to assist people into these hard working fields.

    I would like to point out that this letter was posted on-line and President Obama’s was not. My husband did receive a job when out of work 3 years ago. From President Obama’s initiative. We as a family are very grateful.

  149. Hi Mike,

    Thank you so much for your concern for the future of America. I am a paraeducator at an elementary school and am so afraid for our childrens future. I will certainly follow your organization and pray for your success.

  150. I live in rural Appalachia and many of my neighbors do the “dirty jobs.” But by the time they’re in their 50s, their bodies are *done,* completely worn out. For that reason, I would not advise my two teens to go into any job that requires hard physical work — not without a universal healthcare system in place, anyway.

  151. Great points. I am an RN, and as everyone in America knows, most RNs nowadays are from another country, the Philippines especially, and others. How did that happen? Because nursing is considered a difficult and often distasteful job, requiring you to get familiar with all kinds of bodily fluids, etc, and it is often perceived as a “servers” type profession,i.e. putting the needs of the patient above all other concerns. So, the rest of the world figured out long before we did, that there was plenty of room for them, and they filled a large percentage of jobs with able, willing people.

    Things have slowly come around, but not for the right reason or means, as we tightened the quotas because we were “losing too many jobs to foreigners”— a laughable premise. The reality is we nearly killed the entire profession off my trying to keep wages low, undermine the people practicing it, and burn them out right at the get go. etc.We did it to ourselves, and are still doing it across the country as a whole. I am sure there are plenty of other jobs like this one (that presently only requires a 2 year+ post secondary education for the most part) that are in danger of being under fulfilled, and “shortaged”.

  152. Mike, I loved your letter. When I graduated from school my dad offerd to send me to college, but I loved to tinker and decided to get into the auto repair business which I throughly enjoyed years back. I did not mind getting dirty because that was how I made my living. I always tried to the best job possible and always thought of the customer. You always wanted them to come back when repairs were needed. Today there is to much emphasis on how much money you can make with doing as little work as possible. To me it’s the little guy (male or female) doing the dirty job that help keep this country going. This country does need new leadership.

  153. Mike-

    Great site and fantastic work ethic! I have seen your show and enjoyed it thoroughly.

    The comment I wanted to share is my 19-year-old nephew just completed his trade school training for welding. He tried traditional college, considered the military, considered the police, becoming a chef and had a job working at Red Lobster. He finally realized that what he really wanted to do was a hands-on trade and, as it turns out, he excels at it. He couldn’t be happier and we couldn’t be more proud of him.

    This gives me a hope for other young men and women who might not have considered trade work as a career.

  154. Jen –

    Just to clarify: Mike’s letter to Obama was mailed to the President, copies sent to various other government officials (Secretary of Labor for one) and has always been posted online right here at mrW since it was first sent out 3-1/2 years ago.

  155. Mike, I’ve LONG had a crush on you. You’re smart, good looking, funny as hell, and have a great TV show (.. and I don’t even LIKE tv.) And now I find out about this…? WOW. If I weren’t already happily married, I’d get down on one knee and propose. For real. 🙂

    Thanks for what you’re doing. You are Da Man.


  156. Mike:

    Very well done; very well said. I hope Romney reads your letter. Not for the vote, but for what it says.

    Entering retirement, I’ve been an engineer and attorney. I consider one of my best accomplishments in the past 10 years has been talking two bright young people out of pursuing law degrees. And the higher education bubble is about to burst big time. A relative (a Ph.D. physicist) and I were talking recently and wondered that if asked, what career or education we’d recommend to a recent high school graduate. We couldn’t think of one. He would never recommend physics and I would urge everyone to avoid the law. And engineering is not at all what it was 40 years ago – computerization is a significant threat to any of the fields. I worked “dirty jobs” when I was going through college. Many times, I got more satisfaction out of that work than in the so-called professions.

    Great show and please do keep up this work! Best wishes.

  157. Hey Mike,

    I currently have trade skills via starting up a Wood & Plastic fabrication business 13+ years. I’d like to follow your example and use my trade skills here in Cupertino, CA. Could you contact me and let me know how you did this, because that’s exactly what I would like to do. Loved your story. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thx, Ken

  158. I am a welding instructor in Maryland. I believe in what you are saying. Until society stops looking down on the hardworking blue collar jobs it will never change. I spent 12 years as an ironworker/welder and made a wonderful living. I took the teaching job in hopes of making a difference in the workforce. Most of the kids I teach do not make it in a normal classroom setting. It seems that most educators make them feel less than equal, because they are succeeding in a non traditional classroom setting (the trades industry). I enjoy teaching young people my trade, and I just wish more people felt the way you do. Thank you again and keep up the good work. Actions speak louder than words and I hope all of the politicians are ready for what you are writing. If it weren’t for these blue collar workers the people with college degrees and politicians wouldn’t have fancy offices to work in everyday.

  159. Mike, well said. I will forward this to both Romney, Obama, companies, media and blogs (to keep it alive and kicking).

    I love the show and you’ve really changed my kids outlook on work (as well as giving them the hands on version.

    Keep it up.

  160. Great read! Mike, I have enjoyed your program greatly, and would look forward to the next adventure, mystery you would take us. I would laugh, sometimes cry, even be in fear for you, but always be in anticipation for your next show.

    Our country has evolved into a unique society. I believe because “we” are so unique we will overcome this opression that seems to be in control. We as a country, society, a people will overcome!

    My husband and I have been married for 43 years. We have experienced MANY adventures. I am a licensed cosmetologist(43 years), retiring this year. My husband is now in the IT world. He started this new career at the age of 54. He was a cotton picker( age 6), brick layer( age 12), Army-Vietnam( age 17), base drummer-local band(age 21), lineman,cable-repair man, engineer(Southwestern Bell Telephone-age 23-33), licensed Barber( and yes we worked side by side for 20+ years)…. And now he is the network engineer for an up and comming banking system.
    AND now we are looking for our next adventure…..

  161. Me, I’m a college dropout. I’ve had a rather checkered career, I’ve cleared ditches, strung cables, counted traffic, driven taxis, sold retail, organized labor, programmed machine tools, performed standup… and oh by the way, designed, built and flown on rockets.

  162. Mike,

    I am a PM / Planner / Scheduler at a manufacturing plant. I came up swinging a hammer and turning a wrench, and thank God everyday for the blessing I have now due to that hard work. I feel I am a better manager because I understand the importance of Field Personnel: The are the most important people at the plant. Without them, we could not do what we do, the maintenance, the cleaning, the up-fits and shutdowns… the things that most think menial. I know that because I’ve done it… and because most of the powers-that-be look at you sideways when you say “righty-tighty… lefty-loosy”.

    Folks have to realize there is no menial labor, just menial attitudes. I work with some of the best and brightest, ethical and substantial people I know. My guys work not only for their paycheck but for the pride they get after a hard days work… they can stand back and say “I did that.” I am proud to work for a company that promotes safety, quality and production.. in that order. They care about the man / woman in the field. That’s who Mundy is and what makes us strong and able.

    I am proud to be on that Team… I am proud to be Blue Collar. Your letter hit the head of a nail that has been bent over and over again for a long, long time… I hope that it reaches ears who will help you swing that hammer.

    D Watkins

  163. I commented on your letter a few days ago (and tweeted it out a lot since then!). After reflecting on it, I’d like to add one more point..

    It seems to me that a change in emphasis would really help your cause. Instead of focusing on societal approval or value for these jobs, do what the free enterprise system does best — leverage the individual’s **self-interest** for a positive result for him and the economy!

    IOW, the key here is not a top-down emphasis on these types of jobs or supposed attitudes toward them (though that’s helpful). The key is going to the potential worker and saying, “Do you want a good job? One with potential for a good career, even potential for starting or owning your own business? Then here’s what you need to do: prepare for and enter one of the trades.”

    Self-interest is what juices the free enterprise system and there’s nothing more powerful than unleashing peoples’ desire to improve their lives and accomplish something. They tend to stop caring what other people think and just go for it!

    Some years ago the U.S. Army had a very effective ad campaign: the commercials said something like “We do more before 9:00 a.m. than some people do all day.” At first glance, you might think, well, who really wants to get up at the crack of dawn and start busting their butt? Answer: A lot of people. That ad worked because a lot of people said to themselves, “Yeah, I don’t want to sit on my butt in front of the TV all day. I want to accomplish something, I want to make something out of myself.”

    I think the same approach would work here, beyond all expectations.

    For example, I am an attorney and my husband is an Accountant. We have never looked down upon the trades; rather we have often marveled at the expertise and business savvy of people who put a magnetic sign on a truck and, after a lot of hard work, have very successful business to their credit. Now our son wants to be a mechanic. He doesn’t care (or really know) anything about what “society” thinks of that. But having been in the professions all our lives, we are scrambling to figure out how to help him learn about all the job opportunities out there and how to prepare for them. My husband suggested that we go to trade job fairs now and ask the recruiters: “If my son were to apply for this job as an Industrial Mechanic, what kind of training and credentials would you, as an employer, be looking for?”

    That type of information should be a lot more accessible because, like my son, many potential workers who are on the traditional (default) path don’t know where to start. Often they can’t even get vocational training unless someone decides they “need” an alternative to traditional school! As if no one would voluntarily choose to be a mechanic! That has to change.

    My son sees college graduates living in their old rooms in their parents’ home and working at the grocery store stocking produce. He thinks he can do MUCH better and may not “have” to go to college, to boot! These are the kind of kids that would respond with full enthusiasm if someone appealed to their self-interest by informing them of the strong economic potential of pursuing the trades. The jobs sell themselves once people realize they are an important and viable career choice.

    Sorry I went on so long. Just felt it was important. Thank you, Mike, for all you are doing for — it’s not too strong to say — our nation.

  164. Mike: I loved Dirty Jobs and appreciated that you were exposing the hard work of the people who keep the country moving. I am a retired engineer who also does all the work on my own car and motorcycle and has about $25,000 invested in tools. I’ve worked with graduate engineers who have no idea which end of a wrench to hang onto and give no thought when they design something to the people who may have to repair it later. Everyone is so focused on college that they ignore the “trades” and think anyone who doesn’t sit behind a computer is stupid and related to Larry the Cable Guy. I’ve known businesses that have closed when the owner retired because he couldn’t find any young people interested in learning the trade. Thank you for your efforts to encourage young people to work with their hands. While many factory jobs have gone overseas, if kids don’t learn manual skills, who will build your new home, repair your car, fix your plumbing or patch your roof?

  165. Awesome. Love the message. Love the show. If I wasn’t married to a great guy, I’d come find you. Lol. Love the singing moments as well.

  166. I agree with everything you’ve said. All work is important to everyone else in some way, and should be respected and encouraged. Thank you for standing up for this.

  167. Write a similar letter to Libertarian Candidate Governor Gary Johnson, can guarantee he’d be all for something like this.

  168. A friend of mine shared this letter on Facebook – I’ve never even heard of this website although I’ve seen Dirty Jobs a few times. Anyway, wow. You are absolutely right; I know that I have been conditioned from birth to believe that the only jobs that count as a valid career are those that require at least a bachelor’s degree or that have “manager” somewhere in the job title. This is a perspective that kids in school practically never hear, and I think you’re absolutely right that they need to hear it.

    Dirty Jobs always made me respect and appreciate the people who do the kind of jobs I didn’t even know existed; this letter and website gives me a whole new level of respect for you as an individual, Mike. Thank you for your voice.

  169. Dear Mike,

    First, I watch the show fairly regularly, and I have to say that the episode where you were determining the sex of adolescent alligators is still the absolute low, for my money. No false colors here; I have a graduate degree and work at a desk these days, but I was the first in my immediate family to make it through college, and I grew up working in the family businesses, a small farm and a garage. I currently work in a city agency (Las Vegas, NV) where we’re currently busting our butts to get new businesses started. I sometimes have to remind my colleagues from other backgrounds that a new or wannabe small business owner’s life doesn’t revolve around our licensing process, no matter how hard we try to make it so.

    What you said calls back something I heard from an old professor, Dr. Ronald Ives. Ives looked like one of the janitors; dark green work shirt & pants, gray Stetson and a big bunch of keys on his belt. He’d been a Lt. Col. in the USAAF in WWII and was still being called back to active duty in the 70s, when I knew him. He pointed out one day that for 50 years we’d been sending the slow kids in high school to auto shop. The result was that now, when you take your car to the shop, the guy working on it probably took the short bus to school, with predictable results. It’s a dirty job, and memories of looking up at the bottom of somebody’s crusty jeep with dirty snow melting onto me really helped me appreciate the academic life. BTW, I still work on my own cars. The house rule is: if you depend on something to keep you alive or fed, you’d better know how it works and how to fix it. If you’re rich enough to hire somebody else to do it, fine, but know how to do it, in case that guy’s not around someday.

  170. Hi, I am a painter and I live in Arizona. I hear a lot of talk about creating jobs. I don’t need a JOB, I have a JOB. I am a painter. What I need is WORK. None of the politicians seem to understand the difference. When the economy collapsed in 2007 I lost WORK. I did not lose my job. Who is going to rebuild the WORK? I am told I should vote for someone who is going to create jobs. What kind of jobs? Well, Mr Romney says he want to cut the tax rate of millionaires, thinking that they will be more inclined to spend that extra money opening another Subway and creating a few jobs. So, I am supposed to take a drastic cut in pay, lose my house and be in default on my debts, but be grateful and thankful that I have the opportunity to get a new job at a Subway?

    Mr Obama wants to save the Federal Government at the expense of the American public. What did you do with all the money we already sent you? And he doesn’t understand the difference between JOBS and WORK. Roosevelt did. When will I have representation that understands what it is like to be a working man trying desperately just to survive in the so-called greatest nation on earth? Seems like the greatest thing about us is our ignorance and denial. When will my public servants start serving me?

  171. During the school year I am a professor in the UW-Platteville Physics and Engineering Department. During the summer I do honest work; I am a carpenter. This is the first University that worked at that don’t think my carpentry work is bizarre. We tend to look up at academics, but the truth is the academics rarely have any manual labor skills.

    BTW if you ever want to build a playhouse for children let me know I’d love to have you in Iowa. Also build bunkbeds, chicken coops and garden sheds that just happen to look like outhouses.

    Thank-you for your efforts. Edward1960 at

  172. Thank you Mr. Rowe for addressing a pertinent and persistent problem in America today.

    Truly we have become a nation of pussies afraid to break a sweat if one judges from the display on TV today.

    All except your show… Of course !!!

    Thanks Mike !!!

  173. Bravo for skilled laborers everywhere. They and their educators are the true backbone of this nation.

  174. Dear Mike,

    I have been fascinated by Dirty Jobs and the people who do them since the show began. I, too, have a motley resume which includes working in a hotel laundry, teaching after-school Science programs, non-profits arts administrator, warehouse order picker, driver, carpenter, and lots of lugging as a member of roadhouse crews. I took (and till take) each job seriously, no matter what it is, because I was raised to know that all choices are valid.

    I’m always put-off by the commercials for modern vocational schools which imply that if you work as a roofer, a carpenter, an auto mechanic, a landscaper – you are somehow not making anything of your life. True, not everyone is cut out to be a carpenter; but neither is everyone cut out to be a computer programmer.

    I love getting my hands dirty. One of my favorite jobs was working in a small art foundry, which was in a converted goat barn near the NJ/PA border. The 4-5 regulars worked 8-10 hour days getting covered in wax, plaster, sawdust, bronze filings, silicone, and mouse turds. In the summer we hoped the fans didn’t go down, because there was no air conditioning. In the winter, we all worked at the center table within 6 feet of our one propane heater. And at the end of each day, we got to look at gorgeous pieces of individualized art. It didn’t get me rich, but it was certainly one of the most satisfying jobs in my bizarre career.

    I have incredible respect for people who love their jobs, no matter what they are. And I have a huge amount of respect, admiration, and appreciation for you, your crew, and your foundation for your collective efforts to educate and encourage those curious about, and taking part in, dirty jobs.

    -Sylvia B., Filthy and Proud

  175. A useful comment:

    “The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.” — John W. Gardner

    with the proviso that we have extended this to the point where we have no plumbers, but a great many would-be philosophers mooning about, voicing half-baked philosophical maunderings and wondering why the toilet won’t flush.

  176. You are my HERO!! All of the men in my family, including my two oldest sons, are skilled blue-collar workers. Some have college degrees, some have a year or two of college, and some are “only” high school graduates. ALL of them have a terrific work ethic and know how to do all kinds of hands-on things. They’re popular with friends and neighbors who haven’t the foggiest idea how to change brake pads, clean gutters, fix a toilet, paint a ceiling, etc. My mother taught my sister and I how to can fruits & vegetables, mend and repair clothing and household goods, and all of us kids worked in the garden so we know how to raise our own food. If worse comes to worse, the people with manual skills are going to be better off that those without. So good for you working to garner support for those less-sexy (maybe) but highly necessary skill sets. I hope you get a positive response from Mr. Romney.

  177. Dear Mr. Rowe,

    I have seen your show, and found it interesting. I find your letters to be rather self serving. I am retired, and have no criticism of your work ethic. Posting this, publicly, just before an election, still creates the thought that this is just a little too convenient. Did you also write one to Sen. McCain four years ago? If not, you are a hypocrite, and do not deserve the compliments you are receiving for this letter! If you only sent this to President Obama AFTER he was elected, shame on you for sending this to a Presidential wannabe, who has not been elected, and hopefully, will not be. Playing on people’s emotions may be good advertising, but poor practice. I would hope your ethics extend beyond your work, and wanting to increase your audience. Your true agenda is still in question…just sayin’

  178. Mike, there is another reason that skilled tradesmen (and women!) have been diminished in the eyes of the public.

    In the last century, we have gradually replaced a healthy respect for wisdom and experience from any source, with the blind worship of the mere appearances of intellect … credentials, position, the ability to articulate one’s views in ways that are considered “intellectual” by our popular culture.

    We have placed these “experts” who embody those mere appearances, on pedestals as though they are omniscient … forgetting that they still have the limits of human perception and capacity for human error … while devaluing the capabilities of MILLIONS of people who are far closer to the “dirty jobs” of living free and pursuing happiness than the high-and-erudite; millions who might just have better answers for the problems in their midst than such geniuses.

    In other words, we “worship” a relative few as our Best and Brightest, while REFUSING to tap into the brainpower of 315 million problem-solvers.

    This has also led to a crisis in confidence among those millions, leading them to a form of “outsourcing” that is far more corrosive to our society than anything involving imports or China … the outsourcing of their personal initiative to such “experts”, particularly within our government, in the belief (encouraged by that “expert class”) that …

    “All you need to do is show up for work or go to school; we have experts who have the answers to your housing needs, your health care needs, your financial needs … no need to plan for your future or actively manage your career, since we can do a better job than you can; just trust us to solve those problems FOR you.”

    I see such “outsourcing” … the ultimate act of the expert-worship I am talking about … as the fundamental problem we face in this nation, with problem after problem – from the inability of people to cope with this lousy economy, to the burdens our government imposes upon this economy as it attempts to solve our problems FOR us, to the need for your efforts to promote the skilled trades as an essential and valuable part of our society – as its symptoms.

    Don’t get me wrong … I do value expertise. I myself am a degreed electrical engineer. But I also believe in Callahan’s Principle of Leadership … a man’s got to know his limitations.

    One thing I learned early on, is to listen and respect the ideas of the technicians and assemblers who did not share my formal education, but had far more experience and knowledge than I in how to build what I designed so that we all would profit. Such listening has saved my professional reputation from embarrassment many times.

    Perhaps I was attuned to the need for this, because my father was a millwright.

  179. Mike, I’ve been a fan of Dirty Jobs and Deadliest Catch (and your Ford commercials) for years, for just the reasons you outlined in your letter. No one else in our society lauds honest work for honest work’s sake anymore, but you do.

    I pursued and earned an advanced college degree while working fulltime and raising a family, but now I’m advocating for my grandchildren (at least those who don’t want to be teachers) to skip today’s unaffordable and increasingly unreliable college and get training in useful, satisfying, well-paid trades. I still encourage them to read, and stretch their minds, and ponder and contemplate, but those things are entirely possible to everyone, no matter what they do for a living. Thank you for presenting on television that image of the working class … intelligent people who make the world go around.

  180. In turning the country on again to skilled jobs, let us make sure they are non-union jobs. The unions can be a huge stumbling block to skilled minorities working in the trades. In fact, the attitude of some of the unions, their demands for dues, and their stranglehold on breaking in to the skilled trades, have turned away many an American, regardless of race.

    Moreover, the USA can take a page from how Trinidad and Tobago handled its multi-tiered education system. Recognizing that not all students wanted to attend university, the skilled trades became part of the general public education system with academics oriented towards it. There were even proficiency exams students were required to pass to graduate. Furthermore, students had access to good technical schools where they could further advance their skills and knowledge.’

    The result has been knowledgeable young tradesmen who know how to use a ruler and who, proficient at their trade, take pride in it. In order to have that, the society has to look at the trades as an acceptable and admirable alternative to a skill-less degree.

  181. Very thoughtful, very interesting note. You make a number of valid points.

    The simple and unfortunate fact of the matter is that parents/teachers in middle and upper middle class suburbs have come to use their children as a kind of status maker. That little Debbie or Johnny is on course to be a lawyer/MBA is all important, not whether there is job to be had on the other end of the process.

    My company recently published two ebooks by GenYers who went through all the classes, took all the tests, jumped through all the hoops…and found themselves at the other end with nothing to show for it.

    I fear that if we do not change these attitudes we do ourselves very serious harm…economically, socially, and individually.



    Belfort and Bastion

  182. I’ve done home health care, picked apples, packed pears, sorted cherries and worked at an egg ranch. In my 40s, I went back to school and I’ve spent my time since then doing tech support for an internet service provider. Still haven’t gotten my Bachelors and doubt that I will at this late date.

    When I was working for Netflix, I talked to a remarkable young woman. She was a single mom and she told me that she’d gone to community college. At that time, they were trying to push everyone into either computer courses or healthcare. She took construction classes and got a job on a highway crew. She told me she made a good living for her and her son. Her long range plan was to become a professional photographer, which she planned to do when her son was old enough for her to change careers. And her classmates that went into those other careers found themselves unable to find work.

    The biggest problem with community college training is getting the on job training to get hired. I was able to get into an apprenticeship which eventually worked into full time work at a Help Desk.I’d like to see more companies willing to provide on the job training. We truly do need a change in our culture, to respect all jobs, not just the ones behind the desk. (And good on ya for the letter to Romney. Nice to see that someone is paying attention to the need for jobs!)

  183. I’m going to show this letter to my daughter, Mike. She’s been a fan of your show since she was eight (she likes all of the “work” shows) and now she’s getting closer to graduation and my gentle suggestions of trade school have to compete with the “vocational consolation prize” attitude that pervades our culture and most particularly our schools. It’s not a new thing either. 30 years ago I heard it too; you’re going to end up digging ditches if you don’t get a college degree… do you want to be a bum?

    It’s one thing for a mom to say, hey, this is what is going on, don’t listen to it. Getting the same message from someone she’s seen as a hero since she was little is something else. (Not to put the pressure on or anything.)

  184. Mike

    I personally enjoy your show. As a self employed business owner I whole heartedly agree with your letter. I am very diversified and have also worked for 2 Fortune 100 Companies nd a Fortune 500 company. I get calls every week from people who are extending their unemployment and want to know if we have any “positions” open or are “accepting” applications. We pride ourselves in an old fashioned concept of “CRAFTSMANSHIP” and honesty.

    Thanks for your efforts and I pray that the REPUBLICAN ticket is successful this NOVEMBER at every level of gov-ment starting at the very top and all the way down to local levels.

    As a practicing CHRISTIAN I am fearful of what I see going on around us and the future of our country if we stay on the track in the direction we are headed.

  185. My husband’s name is Mike, too. He has an Electrical Engineering degree, but his job moved to another state when our youngest was a baby. His six months of unemployment ran out on September 11, 2001.

    He is now a self-employed electrician, fully licensed and bonded, and he has taken our son with him on safe jobs since he was 7 years old. At the age of 12, our son helped “supervise” a small group of college kids putting in the electricity while helping to build a house. Our son was also supervised by his dad :), but the other supervisors and college kids were pleased with what our son did while on site.

    Hard work is hard work. I’m thankful that my husband didn’t wait for another engineering job to come along before he rolled up his sleeves and started working again. He realized that though there is a clamoring for engineers, companies want to hire “techs” or new engineers right out of college – they can pay them cheaper and they can train them. An old engineer that thinks out of the box, the type of person that this country was built by, is not wanted in the work force.

    Since our children are home schooled, they have had the opportunity to learn a trade with their father. For that, I’m thankful.

    My son graduates in two years from high school. What his future holds is anyone’s guess. But at least he has a skill that is useful, and vital, as the infrastructure of homes depends on good tradesmen.

  186. Hello Mr. Rowe,

    Myself and our entire family love your show. I truly commend you and your staff on this venture. I have worked my way thru jobs and into my own business. And doing both at the same time, while raising my children. There is an issue with younger people working with there hands. They want the top pay and least amount of work. I have hired many and the thought of sweating is repulsive to them. Our business was not dirty, it was a labor of love. But I was the only one who thought that way. We had to shut down in 2010. No one, my kids included, didnt want the business. They went to school and were taught to get a degree and the big bucks would come there way, with little effort.

    The economy didnt help either. My daughter not liking working in the office, became a Fire Fighter / Paramedic. My middle son, became an auto mechanic, My youngest, while in college, was in a packed class of Business majors. He ran into a high school friend taking welding classes. His former class mates dad [ oil & gas officer, was laid off]. He took the welding class and got a job that paid almost as much. He got his son involved, his son got my son involved. Hope is contagious and eternal. I lost 2 yrs of tuition, supplies etc.

    But getting it out there, that these jobs ARE IMPORTANT, is the best thing we all can do.

    You took it even further. Thank you so very very much for giving these kids the opportunity to see how much we need these jobs filled here.

    I wish you the very best in your show, in this endeavor and in your life.


  187. I feel odd voicing my agreement with you, because I’ve got a 4 year degree in Music Dance Theater, and am currently working as a stay-at-home Dad and as a fledgling game-designer. The thought of picking up a shovel and working fills me with dread because I’ve spent my entire life learning how to be an artist, and nothing else could possibly be fulfilling to me.

    But I agree completely with what you’re saying. For me, it’s about being willing to always find a way. If you can’t get a job, you MAKE a job. You find something you can do and learn how to do it. I remember some old roommates of mine who started website companies and renting apartments for quite a bit of cash. One of them especially was a big proponent of not going to college unless you knew what you wanted to get from it, because in his case he learned everything he needed for his career on his own, and his degree turned out to be a bit waste of time and money. He argued that too many people saw college as the place where you go to find yourself, rather than where you go when you know what sort of training you needed for your chosen vocation. That attitude is often the difference between a successful worker (whether he works a trade or has a college degree,) and the poor kid who has college loans to pay off and can only get a job in fast food after graduation.

  188. Mr. Row:

    I have watched a lot of your shows of “Dirty Jobs”, you are correct these jobs you have done are done by people that know how to work and are not afriad of doing the work they do.

    You are one of the bravest men I have ever seen anywhere in the world. (along with the camera man that follows you around). You show people that they can be neck deep in the most vile mess anyone can come up with and still live through it and get it cleaned up and fixed. What an accomplishment you have done for your self and an example for ALL humans around the globe to follow.

    I take my hat off to you and salute you with high honors.

    You are the best of America and have shown it many times in the jobs you are willing to take on and, “get her done”.

    You are a hero to me and a fine looking man to my wife.

    May all your endivers excell and be grand for you in your lifetime.

    I would some day like to meet you and shake your hand, also and have the honor of you signing my flag.

  189. Well said. You are a great American, Mike. And it has little to do with your show.

    My family, including my children, are exactly examples from which you speak.

    Best Regards

  190. Mr. Rowe,

    Nice piece

    Well, NOW you’ve done it.

    Expect the Instalanche in 4…3…2…

    (generally, this is a GOOD thing)

  191. Mike,
    You are 100% correct. Thank you for bringing this issue to the national stage! I am an instructor at Wake Technical Community College in NC. I talk about an educational theory called “Multiple Intelligence.” The idea is that everyone is smart, we are just smart in different ways. One of those ways happens to be working with the hands. I encourage my students to think about their intelligence(s) and what career paths might line up with them. It’s too bad high schools don’t use this theory more often. Have you ever read the book “The Millionaire Next Door”? According to its authors, a majority of American millionaires are small business owner in blue collar industries. Now there’s some motivation to learn a skilled trade if I ever heard one!

  192. Hi Mike,

    I’m retired now, but I have worked on both sides of the divide. As a chemical engineer (MIT BSChe, USF MS), I made substantial contributions to my employers, until I was laid off at age 47 in one of the Florida phosphate industry’s periodic slumps. I found work selling process pumps to the Florida citrus and phosphate industries. I probably did more actual engineering in that job, fitting pumps to specific applications, than I did when I worked out of a cubicle. I learned my way around the shop, doing things like operating a fork lift, and aligning a pump and motor using a dial indicator, shims, and a wrench. Two of my proudest achievements were:

    (1) The morning I assembled a citrus evaporator feed pump from parts because our mechanic was away, we didn’t have the pump in stock, and the plant was down,

    (2) The Sunday I spent most of the day rebuilding a vertical centrifugal pump in a customer’s plant. I improvised tools to press the bearings on and off using scrap pieces of PVC pipe. It was a sump pump from the process area, and yes, it was quite smelly and dirty. Thank God for GoJo.

  193. Way to go Mike!!! I totally agree with everything you have said. I’ve had a “dirty job” my whole life and loved it. I was a horse trainer and farm manager for over 25years. No one should be judged by what they do for a living. “It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it” Everyone should take pride in what they do, be the best that they can be and be honest and have integrity. This is true whether you are a pig farmer, a garbage collector, a plumber, a coal miner or the CEO of a major corporation.

    It’s disappointing that President Obama never responded to your letter. I bet he’s kicking himself for that now.

    Best of luck to you!!

  194. I’ve never seen your show as we live in a rural area with no cable and don’t watch a lot of TV, but I’m so glad to know you’re out there advocating for “alternative” education. As a former homeschooling mom, I’ve been saying for years that an educational system that promotes only college is insane; as a mom with a daughter who is definitely NOT college material (although she is extremely bright and talented) I’ve been trying to promote the idea of trades to friends and family for years. I was actually just talking to my sister last week about trying to reach out to small businesses to get them to approach high schools for potential training in their businesses. I just wasn’t sure how to go about it = but it looks like you’re doing that and I’m so happy to see it. As a consumer, we had hail damage to our home almost four months ago, and between insurance and trying to get estimates to repair the damage, we just finally got what we needed last week. I know it has to do with the fact that our skilled trades workforce is short personnel – just getting someone to get back to us with an estimate proved to be a challenge!

  195. Mike,

    I was on the Kenosha Unified School board for nine years and I watched as public education each year eliminated the type of education that would prepare students for Skilled labor. Since stepping down form the Board in April of 2012 I have decided to run for State Senate to help change some of these laws in education. I would LOVE to talk with you about ways to bring this type of education BACK to Wisconsin.


  196. Like your site. Some good ideas.

    Here’s one for you: look at the way nursing as a profession has evolved over the last hundred years from direct patient care to a largely administrative (i.e., management) position. Lots if not nearly all of the jobs nurses did have been reduced to specialized but less-trained positions like CNA, phlebotomist, IV tech, etc.

    I remember reading a similar thing about reserve naval aviators. These were guys that learned to fly in the Navy, loved to fly Navy jets, etc. So you’d have aging lieutenants and lieutenant commanders…who would be forced to resign if they didn’t accept promotion, even though they were still physically capable of flying Navy jets. This policy resulted in the loss of trained aviators who weren’t interested in “management” positions that went with promotion. They just wanted to fly Navy jets.

    The point I would make is that for whatever reason, our society has adopted an “up or out” mentality. “If you’re not management material you’re not fit to flip burgers.”

    What good does it do to get a four-year English degree if you’re going to wind up flipping burgers anyway?

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  198. As an educator in a “high risk” school system for 30 years and a “builder” as a chosen profession, I couldn’t agree more. All parents want “junior” to go to college. …the american dream has become the american nightmare.All the while “Builders” quietly apologizing for “immigrant” populations in their work force.Yet this society doesn’t want their children to get their hands dirty….total diconnect.

  199. College is important, but it isn’t the only or even the most important way to an education.

    Think of this: you can outsource anything that primarily takes brains. The internet is a wonderful thing that way. I help prepare legal documents for a living, and there is nothing I do, other than the notary stamp on the physical document, that can’t be done by someone in India. Already, at the end of a day of trial, a lawyer with a legal question will, particularly if the firm is large, send the question to a service in India or China, and have an answer in the morning, for substantially less money than paying an office paralegal overtime. However, you cannot outsource jobs that require local touching. That is, you can’t outsource digging ditches, you can’t outsource welding a broken combine stuck in a field, you can’t outsource nursing (doctors, more and more the answer is yes, you can), you can’t outsource pulling network wiring, you can’t outsource anything that requires a local body. Much of that, like a mechanic, requires much more labor than, say, a guy who fills out legal documents, but it also requires brains. Some of those brains come about only through experience, and that’s why an apprenticeship is so important. I’d like my son to go to college, but he likes monster trucks, and if he wants to build monster trucks, then he should. He’ll need to learn math and physics, he’ll need to learn how to weld, he’ll need to know about wiring, in fact, he’ll need to do a lot of cross-training that will allow him to fix cars for a living and make monster trucks on the side. There’s nothing wrong with physical labor. Let the janitor in my school miss a few days and we’ll see just how crucial he is. Let’s have less emphasis on formal college and more on trades. If I had a say, a traditional 4 year degree would take 5, with the extra time being used in a trade, so a lawyer would graduate with a law degree and a welding certificate.

  200. Bravo, Mike. Specialization in the workforce means one must be satisfied with compensation alone. A dreadful consequence for those not creating anything tangible.

    Decades ago, people had hobbies. Now, time is spent on entertainment without any significant creativity or production. Such change has sapped our collective soul.

  201. I couldnt have said it better. For the past 4 yrs I’ve been telling friends, family and whoever else will listen that “if my husband didnt have a family business (industrial uniform rental service) for my two sons to go into, I’d be pushing them toward a trade job, you know that “so called” vocational job, electrician, plumber etc. This is the future, where a person with drive and ambition can take that trade and grow it into a profitable business. The problem with todays society is that its an entitlement society, that everything should be handed to them and not worked for.

  202. Pingback: Valuing hard work: Romney reads open letter sent by Mike Rowe of ‘Dirty Jobs’ ; Obama ignored|Politifreak
  203. Senator John McCain, in endorsing amnesty, stated that “there are jobs Americans won’t do.” This, I believe, comes from the same mindset that compelled Barack Obama to make the statement, “If you have a small business, you didn’t build that! Someone else made that happen!”

    In the latter case, you are wrong, Mr Obama. We DID “build that”! WE made it happen, despite government intervention and bureaucratic obstacles designed to impede and punish sacrifice, risk, hard work and success.

    In the former case, you are wrong, Mr McCain. Our ancestors came here with nothing, save for dreams. They built towns, grew those towns into cities, departed those cities for the wilderness where they would establish settlements. They MADE roads where there were none. They felled trees to build homes, churches, schools, markets and businesses. They cleared land and they planted. They forged a Nation. THEY BUILT AMERICA!

    There is no such thing in existence as “a job an American won’t do”! Never has been. Never will be. Americans have taken on every conceivable task and hardship to build a better life, a better Nation, for their descendants.


    WE forged America from dreams, with tears, and sweat, and blood. WE declared our Independence. WE fought for it. WE suffered for it. WE died for it. WE turned the Colonies into States, WE formed a Union of States, WE forged a Constitution, a Bill of Rights, a military. WE formed a government. A Government OF the People, BY the People, and FOR the People – and not vice-versa!

    WE are Americans. WE BUILT THIS NATION!

    And we fully intend, with absolute conviction and unwavering devotion, to reclaim our Birthright!

  204. You are doing good work, Mike Rowe. I always get a little skittery hearing politicians talk about everybody needing to go to college. College isn’t for everybody. It is possible to make a good living, doing work that actually contributes something necessary to society, without a college degree. (I say this as a college graduate who is not earning such a great living.) Thank you for reminding us of this. A lot of us still respect people who are willing to work hard. (I’m betting you actually get a response from Romney.)

  205. Awsome Site Mike. Congratulations for your work ethic and gut wrenching “can-do” attitude. I agree with every word! Just wait until you grow your company and a union guy walks in your doors and tells you you now have to include them! And the Government tells you that you will be providing benefits and unemployment insurance for those who quit your company, or steal from you and you have to let them go.

    You wil have no confusion about who you will want in ofice then!

    Best of luck! Keep up the good work!

  206. Great job Mike,

    Our local paper today laid it out this way for both candidates President Obama’s platform:

    “Government should help those who need it to become more productive members of society”.

    Govenor Romney’s platform:

    “Government should promote oppoortunity with lower taxes, less regulation and a pro-business climate”.

    We have had four years of President Obama’z way, it has only helped us to decline, to me, is a no-brainer, time to try Governor Romneys way.

    Very happy to see Mike’s work acknowledged, congrats on your recognition Mike.

  207. Way to go Mike. I grew up on a farm moving handlines and picking rocks. I hated it but love it now. I learned how to work. America has forgotten how to work. Thank you for your efforts. I currently make my kids dig buckets of dirt for our trampoline hole in the backyard. People say “you know it would be a lot faster to hire someone with a backhoe to do that” and I say “yeah but that wouldn’t teach my kids to work”

  208. Right on, Mr. Rowe. I am an English teacher in a small-town public school who encourages my students to believe that ALL job options are respectable and viable. I teach them real-life application for communication and language arts skills and concepts, and encourage them to make their own connections to jobs they are interested in doing. It’s time we all saw the value in ALL jobs.

  209. Great letter! I hope Obama responds to you first however! Obviously you will vote for whomever responds. Wonder who you will vote for when both respond??? Hope you will tell us…..

  210. I think you should reread this letter and consider how hard the sitting President has worked to focus attention and energy on the very subjects you speak about here. I’ve been listening and watching for the past four years and I’ve seen John Boehner and Mitch McConnell do their very best to obstruct every effort that would move to achieve your objective.
    Like you, I am a small businessman. In fact by comparison I am a micro businessman and… you, and unlike many of your contributors, I am not anti-union. Union organization wrestled a middle class from the robber barons of the 19th century. Unions “trained” our skilled workforce long before the advent of trade schools and community colleges. Master level skills have been in decline for decades as unions have been more and more demonized. They are NOT the enemy, ignorance and corruption are, whether in a union local, city hall, the corporate boardroom or Congress.

    Your open letter to candidate Romney implies President Obama ignored your initial letter, assuming he ever saw it. You post your Romney letter openly knowing it might not otherwise garner his attention.
    You now make millions from an auto industry saved by this President. To denigrate him seems rather disingenuous. Had candidate Romney’s strategy been followed, the auto industry likely would have been liquidated and our capital infrastructure shipped offshore for pennies on the dollar or sold for scrap by liquidators like Bain Capital. My father-in-law was an immigrant who engineered and built many of the steel presses that made America a mass manufacturing giant. He would be appalled to see modern corporate leaders (they don’t qualify to be called industrialists) stripping America of her capital wealth and destroying her middle class for the benefit of a quarterly report.

    Beware how you use your “Bully Pulpit”, it could undermine the very foundations of your admirable efforts to revalue dirty work.

  211. Great Job Mike! I feel our country is on a comeback with the fervor of patriotism and with great Americans as yourself, our country will begin to heal from the rough last few years. We look forward to good things coming from you. Keep it up.


  212. Bravo, Mike. I completely agree. I think the emphasis on college educations is WAY overstated. I say this as the holder of a 4 yr degree in engineering. You know, one of those “professions” that, according to the colleges, “will never go out of demand”. Except… now companies are figuring out how to outsource even engineering. If I had it to do over, I’d be an electrician, plumber, or mechanic. I can already do all three, and I’ve been tempted more than once to jump the engineering ship for a blue collar life.

  213. I must say, your idea is not original, no wonder the President didn’t respond. We’ve heard it from many people. If the American dream means anything is possible, why not shoot for the stars or the Presidency. There was a time when folks took on the jobs you mentioned because their parents, and their great granparents did those jobs. My dad performed that kind of work, but wanted me to have a better life in whatever I chose, but he did not limit me. We live in a free society. Next thing you will come out with an idea to start tracking “not as smart” kids into these skilled labor positions starting from elementary school. Again, your idea is not a good one. The only reason this is getting any traction is because you complained the President didn’t respond and people want Romney to respond. FYI, most of America (probably the President) don’t even know who you are, so congrats on injecting yourself into this important political debate and increasing your viewership from the right. By the way, the kind of jobs you are crying for are the same ones the Republicans have blocked (infrastructure projects that would employ the type of skilled labor you discussed).

  214. Mike the problem has grown since we started to use standardized testing and pushing harder the 3 R’s in passing them. Many kids that adept in our schools in the trades classes have a somewhat difficult time in classes of the 3 R’s. Most think differently and learn differently. You can show them how to break down and rebuild an engine yet diagramming a sentence makes no sense. These kids are the ones being pushed out of what they love to do to meet a mandate from Washington. Having a four year degree certainly works for some, yet those people are not what this country was necessarily built on. The ones who apprenticed by starting to dig holes or cleaning up work sites and then went on to start their own companies, not because of an MBA, but because they learned how from people who knew how. Most people in college learn from people who learned how in college. This is where we are failing not only these kids but our nation as a whole. Like other countries we should be standardize testing only those who desire to go to college. Kids who are working in High School or Middle School working on trades degrees should be tested on the trade they want to master in.

  215. I agree that we have become a society that thinks if you don’t go to college you are wasting your life. Sad part is that many of our companies that are built on “dirty” jobs act the same way. In the oilfield many companies will not advance you past certain levels without that 4 year degree, EVEN when your qualifications and experience make you a better candidate. We need a change in perspective here so that those that peruse a career in these fields are not looked down on.

    Wife of “Oil Field Trash”

  216. I so agree with what you are doing Mike. And yes I have watched your show, with interest I may add, as I too work in an industry that gets dirty and mucky and greasey and black from head to toe at times. What do I do you might ask? I am in the agriculture industry, not an office job, but a cowboy, managing a ranch hands on. I dont see many saying anything about farmers and ranchers and what they contribute to society and the work force. We usually work from sun up to sun down, every day of the week, and wages depends on the current markets, and yet get blamed when food prices go sky high. I went to college to a major unveristy, and yet I am a cowboy, its a way of life, but its also a job that can ultilize a major education in research, and decision making. I feel a degree in life is the most important degree there is, its reality!! Yet I am put down, and ridiculued by my family for my choice of career, but I still have a job and am working, when many of them arent. Keep up the good work Mike and you have my support !

  217. That is a great letter. My mom’s side of the family is plumbers and mechanics. My dad’s side of the family is either in the military or the police force. The plumbing business on one side of the family is about to go out of business because there are no skilled plumbers to fill positions. Some of the blue collar skills are disappearing. I applaud your letter.


  218. Thank you so much for your letter. We homeschool and couldn’t agree with you more. We have been blessed to be able to educate at home and are viewed by our local school district as “backward” for our views. Not only do we believe that parents are the best educators for their children, but that hard work of any kind is just as valuable as a college degree. My husband is a landscape supervisor for a local community. When I say supervisor, he is in the grass/weeds/dirt, etc…from 6:00 am for the rest of the day in the horrible Florida heat and humidity and I couldn’t be more proud of him. We are teaching our son not only the basics, but also the fact that college is not for everyone and that you should be proud to get dirty and work hard. This is the type of attitude that built this country.



  220. Good stuff Mike! I am glad someone is taking up the cause for skilled labor. Everyone is not cut out for college!

  221. Well done Mike, way to “do a good turn daily” and bring this issue forward into the public square. Thanks so much for working with the folks in Alabama and Georgia to publicize this outreach in their states. I hope other states, including my own (in the upper left hand corner of the map) follow their lead on this. Working hard is working well and that brings its own rewards, not to mention that skilled trades are good and worthy careers. I rolling up my sleeves and joining you!

  222. Amen!!

    Somehow we lost track of your insight. I blame ourselves as parents, the education system we’ve let become a laboratory for how to fail and our media which, with the exception of your show, depict hard work and manual labor as something for the uninspired and unintelligent.

    Thank you for a wonderful letter and your foundation which is trying to do something about it.

  223. You are so right about the stigma surrounding people who do the jobs that do not require a college education. My sons did not go to college, have worked at the local steel mill as overhead crane operators. They have worked hard and have done well. My husband worked at the same steel mill in as a scrap inspector. No college required. We are OK. We have farmers surrounding us. No college. They work very long hard hours and they are doing OK. No one is getting rich, but everyone doesn’t need to be rich. What you are doing is wonderful and I hope schools will create larger vocational programs so when kids graduate they can be ready for a job requiring skill and craftsmanship.

  224. Dear Mike,

    Thanks for speaking about this issue. I always encourage young people I meet who don’t want to go to college or can’t afford it to get a skill. Many electricians and plumbers hire people as journeymen so they can eventually become plumbers and electricians. It’s really paid on the job training. It is discouraging that current Administration holds college degrees in higher esteem than skilled labor. I have brick masons in my family and they make very good money averaging $25 to $45 an hour. That’s a lot more than college graduates starting salaries. Thanks so much this giving this matter the attention it deserves.

  225. Your letter was very touching, impressive, and true!!!! There needs to be more like you, and maybe Hollywood could eventually start allowing themselves to speak what they believe, instead of fearing their careers will be over if they do!!! I commend you for being brave enough to not let the media quiet you!!!

    THANK YOU, and I truly hope Mr. Romney takes the time to respond, unlike the one in office now who will be leaving the White House this November!!!

  226. Keep up the good work and don’t expect anything from Obama he wants people on walfare to get votes, he does not care about working class, justb the “underclass” and he will keep expanding it to retain power with his communist cronnies

  227. Awesome Mike!

    After being self-employed for 26+ years I had to close my business due to the poor economy and that fact that I could not compete with big-box stores as well as dollar stores.

    I owned a wholesale business that provided framed art to the gift industry.

    I have been unemployed & have been on unemployment now for 10 mos. It is a shame that I would loose about $300/mo if I got a minimum wage job at 40 hrs a week- even more so when able to get insurance, than what I am making on unemployment. It is sad but that’s the cold hard facts.

    I have worked all my life and am not lazy by no means. It really upset me that when I applied for food stamps and was only going to receive $16/mo. Talk about a slap in the face!

    I just want to apllaud you for all you have done.

  228. Talk (and conversation) is cheap. When I see indications of ‘ACTION’ then you can get back to me. For years, both Republicans & Democrats have done NOTHING but talk big and blow promises out their butts. It’s evident the current administration must go. But, can we be guaranteed the replacements will serve the American people properly? It still boils down to haughtiness and the euphoric feeling of power. Totally disenchanted by all politicians.

  229. Mike we have always watched your show. My granddaughter, said it was her favorite show. She was about four at the time. Anyway what a great American you are. I hope Mitt takes you up on your offer. I know that we will follow your endeavors and lend any support we can. May God continue to bless you and yours.

    Sgt Mac and Margaret McGuire

  230. You don’t appreciate a technician until the car quits, the heat pump at the house croaks, or the plumbing seizes up. Having a roof replaced on your home is a humbling experience. And we have generally become a nation of incompetents. The average home owner has been told and assured in TV sitcoms that the Dad is a bumbler and not competent to manage a basic home repair. Hell, most of the people in my neighborhood don’t even cut their own lawn or plant flower beds.

  231. Thank you for bringing to Governor Romney’s attention the glaring gap in skilled labor today. I grew up on a potato farm in Maine and experienced first hand how critical skilled labor was to the success of our farm – including my own sweat and tears! I am proud of my heritage and I hope you continue to do your wonderful work to celebrate how valuable and vital skilled labor is to the future of our country. Yes – I watch “Dirty jobs”!

  232. Academia has perpetuated a self-serving fraud upon American children and their parents for several generations now. Colleges and Universities employ teachers who upon attaining tenure not only have a life-long position, but wages and retirement benefit packages rivaled only by Congress. To keep those positions and thus their lucrative retirement they have convinced several generations that a child can never be successful unless they have a minimum of a four year college degree. The result, with President Obama’s encouragement by allowing adult students to remain on their parent’s health insurance, is that these students now remain “children” until the ridiculous age 26 and beyond. Gone are the days when a child graduates from High School and is considered an adult and a success upon picking up a hammer or plumbing tool and becoming responsible for their own lives. Even when students don’t graduate from college they still feel they should not accept or worse are too good for menial work. And I blame the academics for instilling this self-serving fallacy in the minds of both students and their parents for the ongoing benefit of — teachers.

  233. Mike, I can’t agree more with your thoughts and our family is living proof! We have two boys. Our oldest is 22 yrs old and has Asperger’s Syndrome ( a form of Autism) and our younger son is 21 yrs old. Both boys have had difficulties in school for different reasons. But they both want to work and work hard for their pay. Both my husband and I are not college graduates but in 23 years of marriage we have bought and sold 3 homes and worked hard for what we have. Our boys want to be able to do the same, but have always been told “you need a college degree now in order to have any kind of a career.” they have been very discouraged to say the least. Well this past year, our older son got a job at a grocery store and he is doing very well. He has already saved quite a bit of money so he too can buy a home someday! Our younger son was approached by a friend of a friend to learn the plumbing trade! He was thrilled and loves his “dirty” job! All he needed was an opportunity and someone willing to give it to him. His boss is very happy with his work ethic (which you don’t learn in school) and his willingness to learn. In four months he has already received a raise! Thank you for your foundation and bringing back the awareness of how important our trades are! By the way, my husband has his own business making deep sea fishing lures and “he did build that!”

  234. I see Mike Rowe kinda’ like Clint Eastwood – so naturally engaging, so honest and genuine, so comfortable in his own skin that people are drawn to the novelty of such a unique personality. I absolutely agree that something sad and dangerous is happening to the mindset of too many Americans today – gone are the days when people who honestly needed charity wouldn’t accept it because they were too proud. Where a lot of folks years ago would eagerly take any job and take personal pride in accomplishing whatever the work demanded, today too many take personal pride in doing nothing, being on the government’s dole, having babies to get more financial assistance. Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, Alexandra Pelosi, made a video documentary that says a lot if anyone wants to Google and find it.

    I’m 66 years old – there aren’t a lot of perks to getting old but I truly feel blessed that I lived during the time when more people took pride in themselves and having jobs – “careers” didn’t mean turning one’s nose away from any honourable employment.

    I don’t know when the world started changing so much but the fact that there is one old soul named Mike Rowe trying to stand up for being proud of who you are and how hard you’re willing to work makes me think there are others. I believe with all my heart that this administration’s rules and regulations are suffocating business but given just half a chance to work, to be celebrated for working instead of being on welfare, hardworking, responsible Americans will thrive.

  235. Mike:

    You are what’s right about America. Please continue to be more vocal about this topic and hopefully you will end up in Washington helping the cause as Mitt Romney will!

  236. Bravo Mike!!!

    I find it humorous that those who would chide you for “making millions from the auto industry” forget that you do ads for the only american auto maker who DIDN’T take the bailout money. As far as the erroneous assumption that those few who pursue careers in the skilled trades do so because they aren’t smart enough for college, have you gotten a bill from a plumber lately? doesn’t seem to dumb to me….

    Again, Bravo!

  237. Great letter Mr. Rowe! You have put a spotlight on the “everyday” man (and woman) on Dirty Jobs and have honored them in the way you do it. You are a wonderful person to represent everyone who is not afraid to pick up a shovel and to encourage many more to do so. Our elected representatives would do well to listen to people like you and those you advocate for.

    Years ago, you made my dear friend, who happened to be suffering from Alzheimer’s and cancer, very happy by not only your TV show, but by responding to her letter to you. At that time I knew that you were an honest man who truly believed in the goodness and hardwork of the American people. I’m so glad you have affirmed my orgininal belief.

    Thank you and God Bless

  238. Dear Mr. Rowe,

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! My wife and I really enjoy your show. More importantly, thanks for sending out the open letter to Gov. Mitt Romney. I grew up on a dairy farm and believe me, it was the most demanding work I have ever done! A typical day on the dairy farm was up at 4:30 am, milk the cows, after get ready for school 8 am-3 pm. After school, back to milking cows 4-6 pm, 6:30 dinner, 7-9 pm homework in bed by 9 pm and repeat next day. I have never forgotten that experience. When I see people in trouble with the law, on drugs, other domestic issues the apprentice type initiatives for all people to include college educated is a most welcome opportunity of a lifetime! I thank you for bringing attention to both skilled/unskilled jobs, trades and apprenticeship programs. I believe Gov Romney will get behind your truly important jobs initiative. Thanks for your open letter!

    Mark and Christine Dries

    Raleigh, NC

  239. Mike, you have impressed me again. You have kept me interested in the crabbers of the Bering Sea, taught me a lot about how essential dirty and undesirable jobs in this country are, and you even convinced me with your 5 online movies to buy a 2012 Ford F-150 with Eco Boost!

    Now however, you have made me stand up and cheer. Well done and I do hope that Gov. Romney takes notice, and you will one day stand next to him in the White House as he announces his intentions to follow your suggestions. Kudos to you friend.

  240. Try this again. I enjoy your show both for the humor & for the statement it makes about the value of work. We as teachers have recognized for years that not all children are suited for a college education nor do they fit into the current mold(box) that tells them they are not worthwhile if they do not follow the higher education route. God made us as individuals and expects us to: “Bring up our children in the way that they should go.” We are all designed differently and we would have a better world if we would respect these differences in others. God bless your ministry.

  241. Yes, Mike, the only dialogue heard about education is a college degree. What about the people who are just not cut out or cannot afford college? In my school, we had three different fields of teaching. One was college prep., business, and skilled labor. I took secretarial courses which provided me with useable job skills throughout my working life. I learned typing, shorthand, bookkeeping, business writing, office machines, etc. While offices expect their employees to produce their own documents on computers, I’ve seen some college grads who could not produce a sensible paragraph, or a logical business letter. And, what about those who cannot spell – spell checker will not catch the wrong word, only the misspelled ones. Some people feel very superior with their college degrees, but there are a lot of people not in the spotlight that complete any successful job.

  242. As a large animal veterinarian, I have seen you do a few of my jobs on your show, and I am proud to say I am not afraid of getting dirty for the last 30 years. My son went to lineman school for 18 months,very little debt and is now making a very good living working hard and getting dirty. Some of his classmates went to 4 year universities, mountains of debt and can’t find a decent job. We must start appreciating vocational training again, it is important and valuable. Thank you for bringing this to peoples attention.

  243. Well said, Mike Rowe! I too think hands-on skills have become undervalued and overlooked in our society. Every ‘menial’ task kids and teens learn to perform builds confidence and appreciation for small conveniences. As a young adult, I moved to a rural area as a single mom. There were few jobs I wouldn’t consider to feed and clothe myself and young son. I cleaned houses with an infant playpen in tow, helped pour concrete and landscape, built barbed wire fences and learned to do so many things I never knew could be done. This was after two failed years as a college student. I continued to grow my skills as I myself grew into an adult and a mother. After a time, I returned to college and earned a nursing degree. Now, as a nurse, I can tell you, I STILL work hard and I definitely get dirty. But under all of this hard work is a woman who appreciates a dollar, who values experience and a ‘can do’ attitude. Once you recognize those abilities in yourself, you start to recognize them in others. That attitude is what we need in this country. Thank you for your lovely letter. It is a needed reminder of the value of an honest day’s work, and a huge tip of the hat to those who still have to wash their hands before sitting down to dinner. God bless.

  244. Bravo Mike! Love your show and the article speaks volumes. Keep up the great work and please let us know if you get a response from either candidate. Would like to hear your opinion of the corporate influence on our elected officials.

  245. Wow! What a great open letter.

    I was talking to a longtime friend of mine just the other day. We were discussing how we, both women, had better learn how to fix more than just the occasional lamp rewiring project because pretty soon there won’t be anyone out there who will know how to do it. I can very proudly say that my stepson, who had a good job in management at a bank, no less, is now learning how to be a welder. I’m certain that most people would ask me why I would be proud of that. Simple. It shows me that he is not afraid of hard work, does not have disdain for people who work with their hands, does not think the world owes him a living and is able to see a need in the workforce and is going to position himself accordingly. Smart kid. I only wish he had decided that before going through and obtaining a college degree – not really, but I think you catch my drift.

    Anyway, thanks. You’ve put the spotlight where it needed to be shown.

  246. Mike-

    Thank you for an amazing letter and amazing insight. Unfortunately people in this country see manual laborers as idiots and underlings. I started doing stamped concrete right out of high school, built swimming pools all over the country, done stone work, carpentry, sewer plumbing, concrete counter tops and ended up doing sales and work for a company that lifts up houses with hydraulics and waterproofs basements. I’ve met a lot of amazing and intelligent people over the 15 years that I’ve been in construction. They are the people that build the world and make it safe to travel and allow others to be sheltered from the elements. I see less and less of the drive and passion required to learn and love building things. People are disdainful of getting dirty and being sore. But they’ll never know the satisfaction of making something, creating something that will last for hundreds of years. A legacy of your hands and skill. We need to reconnect with that, explain the reward and the money you can make. Explain that it’s not a sin to work outside. I hope Mitt Romney and his ideas can lead us back to that. Once again, thank you.

    Andy Mills

  247. I have a BS (man, is that appropriately named), two MASs, attended Harvard twice and MIT once (executive courses only)…what I really wish right I would have liked to be a plumber.

    My first two jobs when I was much younger were working as a janitor. Someone asked me why I wanted to clean other people’s “stuff”. My answer…because it is honest work and they leave you alone. I used the money to pay for flight lessons.

    I ended up retiring as a Brig Gen and a pilot in the Air Force.

    Thanks Mike for speaking for the rest of us.

  248. All I can say is thumbs up. “Our” elected officials need to understand what the American eole want and deserve

  249. As a big fan of Dirty Jobs, I have a great deal of respect for Mike and his work. Additionally, having heard Mike speak at the 2010 BSA National Jamboree and the 2012 BSA National Meeting, it is clear that this is not only a man with a unique outlook on life, but one who has the experience to speak on this subject. I would hope that whoever wins in November, will avail himself of this outstanding resource.

    I mean, seriously, who else could make cleaning out a Los Angeles sewer look like a fun job. Well, maybe not fun, but at least, um, well, better than artificially inseminating turkeys.

  250. Gooo Mike! Your show is our favorite and we have gained a better appreciation of all thoses who are in the service of the ‘unmentionable’ jobs! Every job is valuable!! Thank you for all you do!

    With Much Appreciation and Admiration,


  251. Well put Mike. Thank God for people like you who are able to get the word out. I say the same thing every day. Young people do not want to work hard for what they have. There are opportunities for those who are willing to put forth the time and effort to succeed. My son is 20 and just applied for a job in the oil industry in North Dakota. He went to Houston, TX for an interview, accepted the job and is now is North Dakota ready for his first 12 hour workday tomorrow. After being hired, they told him he was one of the top candidates. He was taken back by that and said, wow Im only 20 years old from a small town in WI and I am one of the top guys. What does that say about our work force. My boys also know how to weld. They know the meaning of hard work and there is nothing wrong with it.

  252. I watched Mike Rowe testify in front of congress on this very topic. I totally agree with him. Funny that I have been saying for years that college isn’t for everyone, that there are good well paying trades that don’t require a degree. When I had my fourth child almost 13 years ago people ask me how I was going to put them all through college. I answered that I didn’t expect them to all go to college. Trades and military are both excellent options. Well stated once again Mike. I support this endeavor.

  253. Dear Mike,

    I have always been a fan of your shows (love the narrations you do on all my fave reality shows!) and your sense of humor. I can’t tell you how many nights my husband and I have chuckled together in bed watching your show after after finally getting our rowdy boys to sleep.

    Today, however I find myself with a whole new admiration and respect….As well a deep, deep gratitude. You see, though my husband and I both have always held “thinking”-type jobs (he is a theoretical physicist-yes, like Sheldon- and I have worked in everything from sales to running a medical clinic and now home-school two teenage boys), I have a 15 year old son who simply hates being a student. Hates it. I have no illusions as to his future in college. He is, however, very strong and good with his hands and could do quite well as skilled labor. It is important to me that he know that there is no shame at all in such a life. In fact, those hard-working people are essential to the backbone of American life. I am quite heartened to see your initiatives, and had no idea about this VITAL work you’re doing behind the scenes. I respect it soooo much, and would love to help in some capacity. PR is my favorite game, and I would volunteer. 🙂

    Thank you for what you are doing, and CONGRATULATIONS on your 4th anniversary. I just read that Gov. Romney read your letter today… In my son’s terms: SWEET!!

    You rock,

    Rebecca Iken

  254. Mike, this is so spot on. My son has graduated from high school (hated nearly every minute of it), and is faced with the unpleasant option of another 4 years of college studying something that would bore him to death. This country needs a trades education track that is as well developed as the university system.

  255. One job you haven’t done yet IT. It may not be as dirty as some of the other jobs you’ve done, but it is a job that a lot of people don’t really recognize as being important. IT guys like myself keep the digital infrastructure running. without us, this country would probably fall apart.

  256. AWESOME – you are spot on. Why has a 4 year college degree become the only acceptable path? While I went that way, I appreciate all those people that fix things that break, that do the “dirty jobs” so I can have an infrastructure that generally works, and all those folks that build buildings, roads, sewers, waste water treatment plants,….. I say THANK YOU. Same goes for all who keep them working. The farmers, the truck drivers, the folks that use a shovel and a pick and an ax – your hard work keeps our nation moving.

    Best wishes for success in this effort – and I believe you have Romney’s attention – and I hope you will see action – unlike your last letter to a potential leader of the USofA!

  257. Go BIG MIKE !! Take him up on it MItt ! With Mikes expertise and Mitts Know how , think of the possibilities !! MIKE ROWE….. JOBS CZAR !

  258. Bravo! We sincerely appreciate your persistence in getting across this important message. Here’s hoping that President Romney will tap your vast experience and heart for the unsung heroes and the work they do to make things in this country tick. Keep up the good work. We’re behind you all the way.

  259. One word…Outstanding!

    My family and I are striving to live your letter as we develop an organic produce farm. The work will be difficult, the days will be long and most of the nights will be short. Our commitment is not to just our bottom line as a family, but friends, extended family and those in our direct line of impact within our community. Having never been a farmer, I am reading everything I can get my hands on, making contacts with those already doing it and praying a lot.

    We have a heart commitment to food bank programs and senior adult nursing care homes as a means of giving back. We desire to provide educational programs that impact children and adults alike with the power of sustainable agricultural practices, eating organic, canning and preserving and buying local.

    We are told the small family farm is difficult to get started and even more impossible to maintain, but we are just crazy enough to believe we can do it. If we don’t, who will.

    Thanks again for he great letter. It gave me encouragement to stay course and be committed to something larger than me for the good of many.


    Troy squires

    Hendersonville, TN

  260. Mike, I am so impressed! I loved you in your show and this just makes me love you more! You hit the nail on the head! We need more practical education. I am blessed to be in a field that does both, is practical, helps people, and makes good money. Now I am trying to get my sons into a field they can learn and enjoy. You have the right idea teaching a trade, but I find there are no apprenticeships or programs where boys can be taught on the job skills. You have the connections to all those companies, and this would be such a need filled. Just think on it. Let me know if you ever do this or already have it in mind. I’d really appreciate it. Either way, I’m impressed and I think you do a good job not just a dirty job.

    Crys Coleman

  261. Hey Mike! I work as a therapist on a behavioral health unit. Nothing helps give people peace of mind like regular purposeful work. They feel needed and worth wile. Many of my clients are homeless and I often hear “I just want to work.” People who do the real work make the world go round every day. Thanks!!


  262. Wonderful Mike! I applaud you for saying something I have long felt. True, I am a female, but my husband was a steelworker, I worked for years as secretary in the Maintenance and Engineering Dept of a large hospital. I saw first hands how knowledgeable, experienced, courteous, etc all these men were.

    We have in our city, Williamsport, PA., what 60+ years ago was Williamsport Technical Institute, then Williamsport Area Community College, and now is Penn State School of Technology.

    Yes, it is bigger and an amazing facility, but the cost is (or so I understand) more than main branch of PSU.

    Not everyone wants to attend or is mentally, financially, etc to attend college so I am happy to see the resurgence of the technical schools.

    Keep up the good work and I am going to send my 16 yr old grandson and his friends to your website. Thanks.

  263. I could not agree with you more. I am a tile contractor in the Louisville, KY area for 20+ years. I have often struggled in obtaining entry level employees. I have always offered good benefits and given opportunity to learn the trade. I have always noticed that the choice of employees is always someone who falls into the construction trade. They never aspire to be in these fields. Society has trained people to look at hard work as less than honorable. Keep up the good work.

  264. Thank you for the great letter to Romney.

    I am one of those people that always went after the less desirable jobs. I got involved in auto transport truck repair. I never went to college and barely finished high school. Most of my buddies went to college. I branched out into owning auto transport trucks and soon had 95 units on the road.

    I am witness to your philosophy. No one I knew wanted to get dirty and trust me, auto transport trucks get very dirty. Getting dirty pays and pays well. Most of my friends that have college degrees have struggled to keep working. I have never missed a day of work and look forward to going to work every day.

    Don’t lower your standards just adjust your goals.

  265. I like you Mike Rowe, your a good dude. God Bless you Brother. I’ll keep watching “Dirty Jobs” and enjoy your Ford Commercials. I am one of those guys who works in the Oil Drilling industry and does not have a degree, but it makes me feel good that you have started this Non-Profit and I will donate to it when I can.

    Thank You Mike Rowe


    Jeff Lamirand

    Centerton, Arkansas

  266. Mike you’ve done more for jobs than this president has…thanks soo much for your hard work and poo covered lenses. Keep it going… Ford has a great spokesman.

  267. Hi Mike. Thanks so much for your concern for our nation. I am in complete full agreement and I really appreciate your initiative and I know you will be helping this country your whole life. Your hard work and example will be motivate a lot of young American to learn and do what it takes to become fully trained to do a good job. I am passing this link to everyone on my email list. I’ve been watching Dirty Jobs since you started. You really get me going sometime!

    Keep on Keeping on.


    Darwin Marsh

  268. Great letter Mike! I worked for years cleaning private homes and offices. I was self employed and it was the best job I ever had. Every day I went home tired but I called it a good tired. I was in an accident and hurt my back and wasn’t able to do my cleaning jobs anymore. I went to school to learn business skills so I could get an office job. For the next ten years I worked in a school as a office assistant but I was not happy. The stress was just awful dealing with the office politics and the endless work. I would often think about the wonderful days of cleaning a house where at the end of the day my work was done. What a great feeling!

  269. Thank God there are still people with your frame of mind still left in America! (I was beginning to wonder!) Here’s praying for a return to sanity (and the return of jobs)

    ~ @survivecollapse

  270. Thanks Mike. I work with a consulting firm and one of our clients is a large custom steel company. The owner needs 50-100 new welders and steel workers, RIGHT NOW.

    The problem? Not enough applicants.

    Hope you continue to make a difference.


  271. From a homeschool parent who believes ‘train up a child in the way they should go’ also includes finding the work you will love–not just the work that pays the most, THANK YOU! Articulately written with a coherent message. I believe in education that prepares, and I am proud of a son who loves restoration projects. He will begin college in a welding program and see what opportunities open after that! I am proud of a daughter who loves animals and volunteers for anything related to them–yet plans to pursue a counseling career. Perhaps one day she will meld the passions. We have emphasized throughout their schooling work is not a curse. Hard work is a joy when it fits who you are. Keep expanding the dialogue and helping people find work that is meaningful and fulfilling for their design!

  272. Mike!

    This is wonderful! I homeschool my children and so wanted them to do apprenticeships in High School. I looked everywhere – and by law – so many skilled labor jobs can not have someone under 18 around any tools, equipment or real work. This has crippled the ability of younger people working and learning trades – I wanted my children to apprenticeship for free to learn skills in a wide group of fields.

    Finally when my son turned 18 and almost finishing high school he worked for a baker. After his first week he opened the bakery for a week at 4 am and made all the bread for the day. A few weeks later I talked to the owner about how I being 40 would have been terrified to have the pressure of making all the different types of breads and goods – he laughed and said he would also but my son was young enough to not be worried about it! This experience was so good for him! He learned all the roles in the store and was given lots of responsibility and responded very positively to it.

    Unfortunately the bread store/bakery closed its doors last summer – after my son worked 1 1/2 years and (he got my 16 year old son on for his first job). Of course being 16 he could only work the register and clean up.

    So I also think something needs to be changed in the laws and regulations that don’t allow 14-17 year olds to work with equipment. The US government is keeping our children from working hard and learning skills when they are young!

    I live in TN and would love to encourage a program here and one that includes the HOMESCHOOLERS! So many career programs like at hospitals only allow public school students to enroll and participate.

  273. This is wonderful! I homeschool my children and so wanted them to do apprenticeships in High School. I looked everywhere – and by law – so many skilled labor jobs can not have someone under 18 around any tools, equipment or real work. This has crippled the ability of younger people working and learning trades – I wanted my children to apprenticeship for free to learn skills in a wide group of fields.

    Finally when my son turned 18 and almost finishing high school he worked for a baker. After his first week he opened the bakery for a week at 4 am and made all the bread for the day. A few weeks later I talked to the owner about how I being 40 would have been terrified to have the pressure of making all the different types of breads and goods – he laughed and said he would also but my son was young enough to not be worried about it! This experience was so good for him! He learned all the roles in the store and was given lots of responsibility and responded very positively to it.

    Unfortunately the bread store/bakery closed its doors last summer – after my son worked 1 1/2 years and (he got my 16 year old son on for his first job). Of course being 16 he could only work the register and clean up.

    So I also think something needs to be changed in the laws and regulations that don’t allow 14-17 year olds to work with equipment. The US government is keeping our children from working hard and learning skills when they are young!

    I live in TN and would love to encourage a program here and one that includes the HOMESCHOOLERS! So many career programs like at hospitals only allow public school students to enroll and participate.

  274. I agree with Mike Rowe…completely…what also amazes me is the comments after Mike’s letter thanks Mike and also WOW on the comments from the public.

  275. Once again, your eloquence helps explain a problem quite succinctly. My admiration to those skilled workers never ceases to amaze me. I only wish I had one thenth their talent, patience and dedication.

    Thank you or speaking up!

  276. Something that would go a long way to helping this situation is allowing businesses to give aptitude testing again to allow them to fit a position with the right person. Businesses stopped aptitude testing when the courts decided that it was discrimatory.

    In order to find people that had comprehension skills and were able to follow directions, businesses went with requesting college degrees. It’s another example of good intentions having negative outcomes for the general population.

  277. Well said!!! I have been watching the U.S. workforce for years and am amazed how many people assume that they will not be able to get a good job without a four year degree. Things have changed and I applaud your efforts to help young people steer themselves into jobs that will make them successful. Not everyone needs to be a doctor or lawyer.

    Thank you for writing this letter. I hope Governor Romney reads it in full!

  278. Kudos for such a great letter. Both my sons (one 23 and one 18 and a senior in HS) opted for vocational school…one in auto technology and one in welding/fabrication. They both have dreams of being small business owners. Our governor, Governor John Kasich, is at the forefront of leaders here in Ohio promoting skilled trades. I believe his quote during a radio interview a few weeks ago was “my plumber makes more money than my attorney; and my plumber has more employees”.

    Thank you for bringing a loud voice to the dying skilled trades industry. Keep gettin’ dirty!


  279. Thanks Mike for your observation, as a licensed A&P mechanic at a major airline that has decided to ship my job to China I have a distinct advantage over many of my co-workers soon to be out of work here in Tulsa, I have other skills. I’ve always said, if you can fix stuff, you will never go hungry. However I will not be able to replace the income I have grown accustomed to. The disappearance of the middle class has become very evident to me. At 60 I am much closer to the end than the beginning so I will just ride it out. But I feel that soon the gap between the people in charge and those doing the work will only grow. Soon there will not be anyone with the income to buy anything.

  280. You are SO right! I am a public school teacher, and I’ve been very concerned about the emphasis only on college prep, and that there has been an effort to eliminate occupational training for those so inclined.

    Growing up, our family plumber had a four-year degree, but started his plumbing business instead. Back then he boasted to my mom that he was making enough money to retire in his forties. From what I can tell, he’s still working, but his company has grown like gangbusters, so I doubt he’s still clearing drains at this point.

    Hard work is a good thing. Students should know that there are other options out there that don’t require a four-year degree. Options that will allow them to do something they are good at and that will afford them a good living.

  281. Joining a trade (surveying) was the best decision I ever made. It led to a great career with the State of California. I work outside in the forests with no emails or meetings. One does not have to be a union tool to be a tradesman or a State worker. Just do a good job.

  282. Mike, I love your stuff. I’ve been watching you for years in Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel, and in other roles you’ve played. I genuinely appreciate your common-sense and down-to-earth wisdom, and I particularly enjoy your sense of humor. I wish you all the best in your endeavors, and I hope to continue seeing you on Dirty Jobs, and on your other future endeavors.

  283. I agree with your letter! As a high school teacher I know that every student is not going to college. The worst change in the education system came when the vocational diploma was taken away. So many great paths were opened with that diploma. Our society has forgotten about embracing hard work and earning a pay check! Thanks for sharing all the many individuals that still work for a living. They need to be celebrated more often.

  284. Bravo! I’ve been saying this for years! Shameful that Obama never even answered it! Shows where his head and heart are……and it’s NOT where it needs to be!

  285. Sir,

    I did appreciate the letter. I am skilled labor born and bred to synchronize my body and mind & complete any task put in front of me. I am highly trained and skilled to do my job very efficiently. I love what I do and wouldn’t give it up for anything. My role has evolved over the years from labor to ownership.

    Now that that’s out of the way I have to ask you simply. Do you really believe a man who made his career on walking into stressed companies, loading them with debt, and then either outsourcing the processes and labor, or just out right fires everyone in order to sell the part and make profit? He has left thousands of workers wondering what they were going to do next. Do you realize this man has a reputation of breaking contracts with workers and pillaging pension funds of its employees on the way out the door? Seriously, don’t be naive. This is the man who epitomizes whats wrong with thr relationship between ownership and labor.

    I understand this is a non partisan plea to someone who may end up being our next president, but please, do some research about who the man is and what he represents before you inadvertently become a prop to get him elected. HE IS AS ANTI-WORKER AS ANY MAN CAN GET. HE ENJOYS FIRING PEOPLE WHO HE GETS SERVICES FROM. ENOUGH SAID. THANKS

  286. I almost cried when I read your post. It really shows how far down we have come. I’m a roofing estimator for a large company with a masters degree. I took this job as a substitute for my “real job” when the economy collapsed. Since then I’ve learned how hard people must work to make a living and how rewarding hard, physical work can be. Keep up the good work.

  287. Nice job Mike. Please invite Mitt to come and work with you on some dirty jobs–once a week (in the swing states) from now until the election. He might agree to do it. I thought of this idea some time ago, before reading your post. It really would be great. You would find that Mitt knows how to roll up his sleeves and work. He’s an old-guy, so he probably can’t do a full days work, because it takes strong men (and strong women) to do some of America’s most important jobs. But I think Mitt would be willing to work with you, shoulder to shoulder, and not just talk.

  288. Todays youth have been taught to expect a high paying career without having to work. They expect to come to a job when they want to, do nothing, and draw a 6 figure salary. You have some great ideas, but you are just addressing the tip of the iceberg. I do sincerely hope Mitt Romney listens to you. Would you like to run as Clint’s VP?

  289. Mr. Rowe, I am new to this website. Are there any companies that are helping you in Texas? I have been unemployed and looking for a job for the last 6 months. I am interested in my sons learning hard-working (even dirty) job skills, and I would be all too willing to try something new for myself. Thank you for sending your letter to Mr. Romney. I feel confidente he will respond. Keep up the good work, and I would like to donate once I find a job. Thanks.

  290. One of the largest problems is that kids these days will not start at the bottom and work their way up like we did years ago. We started washing dishes and busing tables at fifteen or sixteen years old until we could work into something better. Kids now want to start out as CEO and will settle for nothing less. So much so that now they expect the government and their aging parents to support them even into their thirties. Grow up, stop whining, get a job and move out of your mother’s basement.

  291. What a lovely letter you wrotein 2009 to President Obama. I am sorry he didn’t respond. It is important for the types of skills you mention to not be lost and forgotten, rather enlightened to our younger generation.

    I am 42, ad lost my job about 6 months ago. I am willing to learn a new skill, as well as encourage my children to do the same.

    Mr. Rowe, is there anything in Texas you can recommend, in terms of learning skills? Companies that are teaching/hiring? I’m interested for myself and for my children. I feel the urge to set a good example.

    Thank you for sharing, and thanks for advance in responding to my comment. You Rock!

  292. I saw that Gov Romney read your letter and I am thrilled that he did. Thank you for writing this. I have been beating my head against a brick wall (or so it feels like) for years now regarding my son and how the education system has viewed him and treated him as a “non-traditional” student that didn’t fit the cookie cutter plan they have for kids. He is now 21 and trying hard to find himself. College will probably never be his path but you know what? That is perfectly ok!! He does not have to go down the same path as everyone else and if society wants to look down on him for that, then that’s their loss.

  293. Great letter. We must learn to appreciate skilled labor, from the hair stylist to the administrative assistant to the carpenter, to the homemaker. Keep this up Mike. We need bricklayers, roofers and electricians as well as PHDs, takes more skill to build houses than to get a PHD!

    Thank you.

  294. BRAVO! Somebody that gets it. I’m sitting here in my Sludge-colored Mike Rowe Cargo Shorts and wishing you were on the ticket. How many have you met that DID build there own business and got hella dirty doing it? That is America- thanks for pointing it out for those that don’t get it. At least one of the candidates heard you. The other is generally clueless so don’t take it personally that he ignored your letter. Maybe you shoudkl do a Dirty Jobs episode about the Senate passing a budget. On second thought, your producers may not like that idea, not much action to film.

  295. God bless you Mike! I enthusiastically agree with your letter, and your take on our current jobs situation in America. I pray that you can make a difference. Thank you Mike!

  296. Mike Rowe is absolutely correct on every point. The type of jobs he is talking about are meant for those that are not smart enough or rich enough for 4 yr college. At least that is what we are telling our kids. My own mother told my 15 yo son who wants to go into the Military, that the Military is for dumb kids. Right this minute I have an almost 20 yr old son that does not know what he wants to do with his life. We have tried to tell him that not every kid is meant to graduate from HS, go straight to college for 4 (usually more than that) years, get out and get a job, get married and have a family and live happily ever after. That is usually not the way it works anyway. We are trying to encourage him to go to tech school. He is a brilliant kid, very involved with his HS Robotics team, and he has a real God-given gift of working with his hands. It was actually one of his spiritual gifts. He also has a gift of photography. He is in a very awkward place right now. Torn between being a kid and being an adult. He works delivering pizza right now, pays his car insurance, his cell bill and his car payment. He is a great kid. I am going to share this site with him. Maybe it will encourage him to pursue a career of this nature. And I am ALL for it. All kids are different, and it is OK, no better than OK that he has a “dirty” career. Thanks Mike!

  297. Well said Mr Rowe…we are all unique individuals with different talents that make up this beautiful countrythank you for your care and consideration in this arena!

  298. I think romney should consider you for as the new secretary of labor. It would be nice to have somebody there who appreciates the value of non-colege skilled labor, who was not also in the pockets of the big labor unions.

  299. Why aren’t there more companies willing to offer Apprenticeships instead of requiring that you have a degree from a technical school or college which leaves young people burdened with insane student loans and no job?

  300. Thank you, Mike, for all you do. I admire greatly your ambition with Dirty Jobs and most certainly your WORKS program. You are an inspiration. Good luck and God bless!

  301. Mr. Rowe, I was really touched by your letter. As a retired teacher at the middle school level, I watched the “trade courses” dwindle. It was a sad sight because there was real achievement and a sense of accomplishment for many of my students. You are right about the focus of our education these days. If you are not college bound then you are considered a failure. Too bad, because there was alot of “light” in the eyes of many students when they showed the things they had made or fixed. Please continue your good work. Hopefully Mr. Romney wtll heed and respond to your letter. Obviously, our present President did not!

  302. Mike

    I’m one of those people who, in the early 70’s took vocational education as an alternative to college (when I could afford it, I took college too, but never benefited from it…although the economics classes opened my…Spent 40 years in the job I learned, raised two kids, bought a house, couple of dogs and am now retired and doing quite well…as far as I’m concerned there are no “dirty jobs”….just jobs you get dirty in performing…you ever need someone to speak on the subject, lemme know…I still have my VICA public speaking trophy on the mantel….


  303. Mike, I own a small air conditioning company in AZ. I don’t know how many times I have heard my friends tell their children, “Go work w/ Bates for a day, then you’ll see why you need college.” They instill in their children, however innocently,that hard, (laborious), work is some how beneath them. I hear over and over about how there is no work. Hand them a shovel and tell them to dig and you get a blank stare. It’s not that they don’t know how, it’s that they can’t believe you would have the audacity to think they would stoop so low as to dirty their hands to earn a buck. On the other hand, I have watched many in their later years, that have been down sized out of the work force, to pull themselves up by their boot straps and hit the ground running. Wait staff at restaurants, cashiers at burger joints, stockers and bag boys(girls) at grocery stores. These are people who remember how to work for their needs and the needs of their family. Maybe that is the crux of the situation. To many of today’s kids haven’t had to earn what has been given to them. The sense of entitlement amongst a lot of the teens and twenty something’s is beyond my comprehension. It starts with chores to earn allowance. my kids do their chores to earn what they want, short of necessities. Roof, food, clothing, medical and dental. Anything else….you better be picking up dog poop in the yard. No poop, No pay. Rant off.

  304. My husband is a crane mechanic (crane, as in a piece of heavy equipment that picks up heavy things and is used to help construct buildings and bridges). He comes home dirty, sweaty, and covered with grease and oil. He’s bone tired. But he likes working outside. He likes working with his hands, and he likes solving problems. He loves his work, it pays well, it’s honest, and I’m oh so proud of him. We need more men in this country like my husband. Thanks for what you do to encourage people to go into skilled labor.

  305. Mike, I have followed your career for the last 20+ years and have come to really admire you and your work ethic. Some of the young people would love to have a trade instead of going to college. School or college isn’t necessarily for everyone and a trade would fill the bill. It is still an education and I don’t understand why some people look down on that. My grandfather was a farmer and in the beginning he farmed with horses, not a tractor. Hard work is nothing to be ashamed of no matter what you are doing. The only thing to be ashamed of is laziness. I am so glad you founded mikeroweWORKS!! I think it and you are wonderful!!

  306. Mike-
    You’ve been a hero of mine since the creation of “dirty jobs.” I wrote a letter to you from Afghanistan, as well as Iraq. I see the way you portray America as heroic compared to the poor nature the rest of our country portrays itself. The mainstream media has skewed the average American, and political America ignores real America. As a patriot I joined the service in 04, and after a deployment, I became a recruiter. After telling multiple 18 year olds and their parents that they wouldn’t deploy because of the SOP for deployment rosters, and having that change only to make me a liar, I quit my job to go to Afghanistan with those same kids. It was one of my greatest prides to quit a 60,000 a year job to stick to my integrity and loyalty. You are one of those individuals that inspires such ideas. Your constant contributions to “working America” is something that should be flaunted by the major news networks that “hate the rich man for making it” while making more money than that same man they mock. You have nailed it on the head, and I respect you for holding politicians accountable as a public figure. Many in your shoes wont touch the political arena for fear of backlash. When I wrote you, it was to request an autograph on an 8×11 piece of paper so I could have it embroidered in my king ranch head rests. its a rusty 06 f150, but I love it. It shows my American spirit and pride, but says I still work for what I own. I feel I have worked for what I own, and hope that the American public isn’t so brain dead from video games and smart phones to realize inspiration when present. I don’t want public recognition, in fact I don’t like ANY recognition for being an individual in uniform. I find the recognition awkward, and uncomfortable, but I do feel the need to point out good old fashion Americanism when I see it. You sir, deserve to be pointed out. Thank you for your service
    Tyler Davin

  307. Mike, I’ve been a fan since you did the Real Estate Show in Baltimore on Sunday mornings. There was just something cool about you, and seeing the insides of those homes up in the Baltimore suburbs!

    I am MORE of a fan now. I love Dirty Jobs, but this email to Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney makes me an even bigger fan. You are so incredibly correct: we DO teach to a ridiculously narrow view of education! Brilliant email and I am HAPPY that Governor Romney (hopefully soon to have a new title!) has not only read it, but responded positively!

    Keep fighting the good fight Mike! And next time you need horses, please let me know! 🙂



  308. Awesome letter. I’m going to pass this along to my State reps and see if we can get some recognition for skilled jobs and a technical recruitment campaign as in Alabama & Georgia here in NH. There’s not shortage of intellectuals but they can fix anything broken.

    I used to watch your show but don’t have the $$$ for TV – sure miss seeing you get dirty 🙂

  309. I did hard labor all my life. I started cutting lawns at 11. I ran the business, doing mostly landscape construction later in the business lie, until age 28. I lost the business of so long when the economy died in 2008.

    I now have severe lower back problems from all of my years of hard work, which sucks.

    I did go to college when I lost the business. I graduated with an AS in accounting with a 4.0Gpa in 2009. Even with that degree I was unable to get a job. I applied to accounting, office and many other jobs like McDonalds, to never hear a word.

    I immediately started a degree in computer science, and even with a 3.98Gpa, I have still not been able to get a job and only 2 interviews.

    I dropped out earlier this year and have been programming a website all this year. I seriously hope it makes money, if not I can show employers and hopefully get a job.

    Many hard, labor intensive jobs come with their consequences like my destroyed back. Many come with benefits like constant exercise as well. I loved all of the exercise.

  310. I have followed your speeches about trade skills and how we have forgotten that someone has to fix things. I am an A&P aircraft mechanic that is about to lose my job to overseas workers. I am about to find myself looking for another trade. I have spoken to my daughter many times about a trade school and maybe this outsourcing will be what wins her over. We are no longer a country of builders and fixers. We want to make a fortune so we can just buy new when the old breaks down. I hope I choose better in my next skill choice so it doesn’t get sent overseas also. Keep up the good work.

  311. My husband is a moldmaker. He makes molds used to make plastic component parts used by a well-known maker of cell phones. His job is difficult, he deals with blocks of heavy metal which he makes into the molds used in injection mold machines. It requires a lot of precision because even being off by 1/100 of an inch is too much of an error. Though he may know more about the work that he does & has to argue with his boss about what can be done within the parameters, his work is never flawed or returned. Yet, he is looked upon as lower class by his boss with the college degree and the black belt in management tratining. If you ever need to work with a moldmaker, he loves to show people what he does. I am sure Romney will respond to your letter, he has class.

  312. Hello Mike.
    I’ve always been a big fan of your show and a big fan of yours. Great show with far reaching effects. I heard of mikeroweWORKS some time ago and want to applaude this project. Glad to see the progress and the sponsors involved. More to the point. The above open letter to Mitt Romney is a fantastic start to what I see as a national education project sorely needed in today’s workforce. Excellent letter and offer of your assistance. How does someone, like myself, help in this effort? Although I am retired from a big-oil regular job/career, I too, worked many other part time jobs, some dirty, some not. All with a degree of skills lost in todays workforce. It’s a terrific effort on your part to help America get back to work. Mr. Romney is blessed to have your offer of help. Thanks for the letter and the work you are doing. Great job!!

  313. Mike,

    I have always loved your great Narrating Voice.

    The letter you wrote to Mitt Romney proves you love your fellow american and what makes this country a great place to live in.

    I hope that Mitt wins and his administration helps your cause.

  314. Mike, I love you. I saw that Mitt read your letter, so make sure you vote for him. The future of my family depends on him getting into office. I have two boys, 4&5 and they love your show. We watch it on Netflix and it is teaching them the value of hard work and a job well done. They love you too, they like to act like they are Mike, out back digging in the dirt, doing a dirty job. You are an inspiration and a bit of a hero in our house, and I know the boys will love you more when they see Mitt reading your letter. Bravo for writing this!

  315. I love you Mike. Love this letter too – my boys, 4&5 love your show – watch it all the time. You are a hero to them, and they will love you for this letter to Mitt. They love Mitt too. They have learned a lot watching your show, and we want them to learn the value of hard work and independence. Thank you for this letter!

  316. Mike – as a teacher – thanks for the reminder that each of my students is different with different interests and different abilities. Sometimes we focus solely on teaching a child the fundamentals of History, Math, Science, and Social Studies, and don’t look at what a student really wants to know – “How will this apply to me in the real world?” I once had a fellow educator relate the concept that not everyone’s “college” was a four-year institution. Thanks for that reminder as I start the school year and the week.

  317. Great letter Mike!! … Comes at such a time of important need…. I hope Gov. Romney makes you the secretary of Labor!!!! You have a great way of speaking that keeps things(even the grossest and grimiest situations) fun and fresh!! Keep up the great work!!

  318. My father taught me that every job has a purpose and should be done to the best of your ability. I have developed a simple example: The world would function much more smoothly, and with less upheaval with a total brain surgeon or rocket scientist strike, than with a garbage man strike. (When I write this, I think both brain surgeons and rocket scientists could strike with less public strain than a sanitation worker shutdown.

    Thank you for your support and advocacy for doing a good job and taking pride in your work, no matter what it is.

    PS-I live in Georgia, THANK YOU!

  319. Mike,

    You rock dude. Your letter highlights the point that the current administration is not interested in putting anyone back to work. For example look at the Canandian XL pipeline project whihc would have brought 700,000 barrels of Albertan Crude oil from Canada to Texas for refining, eased our dependence on foreign oil, and stabilized our unstable gasoline prices. This would have strengthened our relationship with Canada as well. The Obama administration decided that there was too much resistance from “perceived” environmentalists in the wake of BP’s gulf oil disaster. But more importantly it would have meant SKILLED organized and independent labor jobs numbering in the THOUSANDS with jobs lasting for years maintaining the pipeline and working with the oil production. This drives home your point made in your letter that “our country has become emotionally disconnected from an essential part of our workforce”. Hopefully we will see a leadership change and a renaissance movement in the blue collar world in which I support my family.

  320. Beautifully stated! As I have watched the great experiment which is our education system try and try to convince people that the only way to “success” is with a piece of parchment from a four…six…eight year institution it has greatly saddened me. Why? Because it has produced an entire generation of graduates who are in debt, living with mom and dad again, with a fairly worthless degree (save those who pursued the “skilled” professions (accounting, engineering, law, med, and one or two others)) and no job in their chosen field. I hope the message is heard. It is a critical one. It is high time we placed our skilled labor force back on the pedestal they deserve to be on and focused MUCH more energy in undoing the “stigma” attached to these indispensable skills!

  321. I am a teacher and my family and I love Dirty Jobs! My students also love your show and there are great segments that I can use in my high school science classes. However, I do disagree with your blanket statement, “teachers actively discourage kids from pursuing” skilled labor jobs. You mentioned in your letter that Georgia has used “mikeroweWORKS to launch their own statewide technical recruitment campaign”. I am so glad to hear that! I am a Georgia teacher and we have a very active career academy that encourages these careers in my school system. Our teacher advisors and counselors meet with students to talk about their aspirations. After they have shared their interests and goals, we then provide feedback and encourage students to take the path that best suits them based on what they have told us they are interested in. We educators realize that everyone is not meant to go to a traditional four year college and it is unrealistic to think that every student will be a CEO. Society (politicians) has told students and parents that a traditional four year college is the key to success but, many of the higher paying jobs require skilled labor training. In addition, “shovel ready jobs” are a necessity to keep our country running and to keep it the great country that we all love. Thanks, and keep up the good “dirty” work!

  322. From a farming background in Michigan, to nurse’s training there, studies in South Carolina for overseas work, 26 years in Colombia, S.America, I see this as really true only as we are willing to work with sweat equity and knowledge will we begin to see things turn around. I agree with you 100%. No job is too small: just people to fill those!

  323. Great letter Mike! My kids attend a career or “vocational” high school and there is a stigma in our greater community of the kids who go there. It’s as if their choice to seek out career training in high school is second class. Well someone needs to know how to fix those expensive cars the “brainiacs” buy and drive and someone needs to build their 5000 sq ft home and finish it inside and out. It’s amazing how many turn up their noses at skilled labor.Thanks for letting me sound off.

  324. Hi Mike! I just wanted to thank you for this letter. I work 3rd shift at a chain grocery store stocking groceries. And you are right, Americans are disconnected from these jobs, they do look down on those of us who do these “menial” jobs. I love my job. I’ll never get rich doing it, but I’d rather do something I enjoy and get by than be stuck in a job I hate. Oh, and guess what? This “menial” job pays more than the so-called respectable jobs I’ve had! In fact, I make more now than I’ve ever made at any job, and a few of those companies everyone in this country has heard of. The “opportunities” there are few and far between. The only people I ever saw rise were butt-kissing, which I refused to do. Again, I want to thank you for speaking out for those of us who get zero appreciation for the hard, dirty work we do every day. Take care.

  325. Yeah Mike! Please help me find goat herdsmen/women and cheese makers! You are correct, few want to work this hard for very long, even in good places with good pay.

  326. I wish more people would take a more realistic view on what is happening to this country, as you have done. I worry for this country. I’m retired, but not dead, and I’m fortunate to be able to retire. I fear in the years ahead that retirement will not be an option for the current and future generations. As my teachers and pastors and parents have always told me – not everyone is college material. Find what like you to do, get the training needed and pursue the dream. Good luck from one Eagle Scout to another.

  327. Thank you, Mike, for all you do (and the way you do it!). My husband and I love your show. What we love most is the honor you give to the people and companies you show us. I was a teacher for many years and I agree with you about the “alternative” education plans. Not everyone can be a brain surgeon but not everybody likes playing in brains all day. What’s wrong with being an electrician (my husband is one!) or a carpenter or all the other trades you feature on your show? Life as we know it would not exist if these fine, hard-working people didn’t do their jobs and do them well. I am a Romney/Ryan supporter and I dearly hope that you get a response from them and not just campaign double-talk. I’ll be watching to see if you do. Thank you again.

  328. Mike — until I saw this posted on my Facebook page by Michelle Malkin I’m afraid I was unaware of mikeroweWORKS. I am a broadcaster and an actor, you do great credit to the profession by taking the initiative and using what could have been just a great “gig” as a platform to create a much needed service. Your letter is so on the money, it is my understanding that Romney has read it. I hope he has and that a seed is planted and will bear fruit if he occupies the digs on Pennsylvania Ave. I come from a family of police and construction workers and so respect the professions that sadly are so often taken for granted. I will check out your website and see if there is anything I can do to contribute to your endeavor. Much luck going forward, Tim Anderson, Princeton, NJ.

  329. Mr. Rowe,

    Thank so much for trying to bring attention to this issue. My office has been travelling the country for the last two years meeting with community leaders, business owners and trade organizations to educate them regarding the huge veteran unemployment problem that we face. The GI Bill is great, but not everyone wants to go to college. If you are interested in discussing collaboration efforts, please feel free to contact me at my e-mail address.



  330. I recently went to my son’s freshman year meet the teacher night. He is taking cabinet making and I was very discouraged to hear that in our whole county (in NC) there are only two high schools offering this class. It goes right along with your great letter. Thanks for taking a stand !!

  331. Couldn’t agree more. I went the grad school route. My 16 year old son dropped out of high school, took his GED, foudn a part time job and headed off to the local trade school at my bidding because he was wasting his and my time and money in high school. He is now thriving and will probably make more at 17 years old next year in his first full year as a working man than half the adults I know. It takes everybody to make the world go round and I have always told my kids as long it is legal and moral I couldn’t care less what they do for a living.

  332. *Standing O!* Awesome Mike! You’ve been a personal favorite of mine ( from back in your Baltimore days) and now you zoomed even higher on my list! Great letter Mike!

  333. Thanks, Mike.

    For those of us whose career it is to run the skilled and technical education in the public schools, THANK YOU for realizing a few things: It isn’t more mathematics, it’s USEFUL math. It isn’t more reading and writing, it’s the CORRECT reading and writing such as technical reading for technically-minded students kids and informative writing for our Ag students. As a person, it isn’t what I have MADE in life, it is what I have $aved by learning to do things for myself. Long ago I stepped off the comfortable platform of following the other sheep in my academic classes with me and launched off on my own course, no matter how nasty the ‘dirty jobs’ got. Now, as a middle-classman, I am watching all my other middle classmates disappear. That is the greatest difference between the grand ol’ USA and every third world country on earth: the middle class. When it is gone, we will be just like every other third world country- some rich; mostly poor; NO middle class. In my role, I am trying to teach kids how to be more independent and to be problem-solvers such as myself. To do; to become your own person and in control of your life. I have no sizable debt to speak of. My house and all my vehicles are paid for. I am trying to help other young people of today become tomorrow’s middle-classmates or even future upper-classmen. I can’t do it alone. Thanks for giving me hope that someone with clout and posture out there actually ‘gets it’. Skilled education really matters for a lot of our kids who won’t get a 4-year advanced degree, but they don’t need to. They’ll be just fine. As long as people like you are around. Kudos, Mike.

  334. I am the daughter of a shrimper Dad (3rd grade education) & a seamstress Mom. To get her high school diploma, she walked 6 miles each day, did her home work when she got home from an after school job as a nanny to help the family with expenses. She received the highest score on her Regents Test in Math. (No scholarships back then!); learned shorthand, bookkeeping & sewing.  After HS, she worked in a garment factory.  She sewed ALL of our clothes & balanced our family budget even during tough years in the shrimp business. I had to clean our home every Sat. before play; cook the family meals before she came home from work; & watch my younger sister. I went shrimping with my Dad when his crew didn’t show up @ 4:00a.m.  I helmed the trawler at night (12 yrs old-alone) so Dad could get a 2hr cat nap.  My Mother worked as a seamstress until she was 82; the boss fired her because she wouldn’t quit! She never took a dime of welfare; but was clearly in  poverty. Did I mention she was first generation American daughter of Polish immigrants. She was gifted with faith, talents, good health, & a great work ethic. “Work before pleasure,” she would say. Her gifts live in me & in my son struggling to keep his small business out of bankruptcy; & my daughter under employed as an event planner with a law degree.  ~God Bless.

  335. I’ve been a fan of the show for years and I absolutely agree. We have an education system that discourages people from skilled labor.

    We’ve overvalued education to the point of shaming people who work with their hands. And now we have a society of people up to their eyeballs in student loan debt but don’t know how to do anything. I do resemble that remark but that is more my fault. I took a different route but ended up in the same place (I went to art school despite everyone trying to talk me out of it)

    Nicholas Ivan Ladendorf

  336. Hi Mike,

    I am president of Badger Magnetics and we employ over 75 people in three states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado). We make transfomers, coils, inductors and other wound magnetics and they are nearly all AMERICAN MADE (95%). We employ unskilled and skilled workers and have the same problem finding people who want to work. To be fair, I also have trouble finding graduate electrical engineers but I also look for people with electrical training (tech school, military) and we will teach them transformer design.

    Your objectives are noble (first time you’ve been called noble right?)and the letter to our next President is great. I hope it gets to him.

    Just to let you know that the workers at Badger Magnetics are some of the finest people around and they are proud of the hard work they do.

  337. Mike,

    I cannot agree with you more! The focus on “if you don’t have a college degree you’re worth nothing…” has ruined our country! I know, for a fact, that college is NOT for reality, not for most people. Yes, I have a degree, but needed it to pursue the career I chose. But, I grew up in a family of mechanics and carpenters and I admire and respect my dad and grandfathers for what they contributed to our family and our country! I also agree with you that our country MUST rethink and change our view of the value of “blue collar” jobs and workers! These are the jobs that have truly made America great…and consist of the majority of jobs we need in this country. My wife and I stand with you in your efforts to get the USA to change our view and position about this!

  338. Just wanted to say a big AMEN!!! I own a cleaning buisness that I started myself as the only thing I ever knew how to do was run buffers and clean. Now employeeing 22 employees, it has gotten harder and harder to find people who want to really work. People are even getting paid food stamps and other support income while goign to get higher education instead of working to pay their own way through school. In our area, certain types of jobs are over sold to young people who go on to specialty schools and college, only to be left down that no jobs exist in those fields. Instead of getting a cleaning job, they “go back to school” There will always be a need for someone to pave our roads or keep our public bathrooms clean, but it is getting to the point where everyone feels their to good to do that type of work.

  339. I love this. My son graduated high school last year and absolutely knew he didn’t want to go to college. He wanted to learn his dad’s trade, collision repair, not an easy job. He has gone to work full time for his dad and is getting on the job training. I’m so proud of him. Good luck with this endeavor!!!!

  340. Excellent post Mike. I have worked as a trade school teacher (nursing) and can tell you that even the majority of the students that attend technical schools don’t want to work hard. Seeing these students be succesful in the classroom was wonderful, but once they were on their own they couldn’t cut it.

    I get it, I have three degrees but worked my butt off as a nurse averaging 12 hours days with no lunches and lucky to get a bathroom break most days. Even one supervisor told me (jokingly) that if I had time to pee I had too much free time.

    My huband a Truss Engineer demoted to sawyer and plant manager when the housing economy took a dive, hired 7 employees last week. All of the newly hired employee’s quit with the final one lasting 5 days. When ask why he was quitting it was that he didn’t want to work that hard and didn’t want to work 12 hours a day. My husband, baffled, didn’t understand how when the unemployment rate was at such a high number why these men weren’t thrill for all the hours they could get – and the security of knnowing there was work to to tomorrow.

    American’s have become lazy and until the attitude changes, I don’t know that the pesident (whomever it is) will be able to fix it.

    Jennifer K Jovus

  341. Mike,

    Enjoy your shows.

    Regarding the above, specifically “companies struggle to find workers with the necessary skills”

    That is simply not true.

    Companies struggle to find workers who fit “perfectly” the job they want done, there’s a huge difference and it goes hand-in-glove with your “emotionally disconnected from an essential part of our workforce” point.

    Society is partly laboring under the effects of embracing the idol of education. Education is great. However idolatry of education regarding work leads to a spirit and approach to jobs skills taking on ideals of perfection and purification in skills.

    E.g., a college graduate with a math, hard science or engineering background, with management experience, who DOES NOT have a “management professional” certification (e.g. PMP/6-Sigma) is seen by HR departments as “less qualified” than a person who majored in other degrees but has such a certification. The idolatry of the certification, of the PMP/6-Sigma, leads the “company” to ignore the far more extensive knowledge of the math behind such a certification and attribute a far greater understanding of the math to the certified applicant.

    In short, the search for identifying people with a strong education in the foundational mathematics as well as the critical intellectual skill and experience of applying math/analysis is lost and sublimated to a certificate.

    A certificate which in the end is really nothing more than a few concepts and equations. Concepts and equations which seem new and powerful to those who have an education which is weak in mathematical analysis, but is really very jejune to those who have a strong education in mathematics, e.g. the earlier mentioned programs.

    This philosophical disconnect by company leadership, separated from the candidates by an HR machine, is the reason why companies so often think finding “skilled” workers is so difficult.

    There is of course some distinction as a job moves more closely to pure technical activity, e.g. writing code. Those jobs aside, the meme of “not enough skilled workers” is simply a fantasy writ large by those blinded to what is an education and what is a “knowledge skill”.


    Centurion 9.41

  342. Mike, Mike, Mike…*sigh* it’s nice to see so many out there who “get it”. My husband and I both come from familes that nobody ever went to college. WE were personally not in positions to attend college. Yet, my husband is self employed and I do independent work. Yes, to being appalled at “if you don’t have a college degree you’re worth nothing”…yet as a business owner they sure are not hesitant at taking money from left and right. It’s also very hard to swallow those that have gone to college…and are clueless here in the actual work place.

  343. My husband just showed me your website! We love you! We’ve seen the disconnect too. My own family wanted doctors and lawyers because menial jobs were ‘beneath us’. It drives me nuts that ppl complain about no jobs, when our infrastructure goes begging – and then they complain about immigrants who WILL work, while they go to an expensive gym to ‘work out’. So, if no one does those jobs anymore, what then? Our second daughter’s in the Disney College Program, and chose Custodial as a work field because she loves to help the guests, and that’s where you find the ones who need the most help (like caring for a sick kid in the restroom). We couldn’t be happier! I’m a stay at home mom of 5 and writer, and my favorite characters to write are my janitor/handyman and his construction foreman father. It’s troubling to see more maturity in a 12 yr old from the past, than from a 30 yr old graduate of today, and I pray that you are successful in helping to get people to wake up, grow up, suit up, and work!

  344. To be fair– President Obama has talked about manufacturing jobs and new technology and infrastructure, all of which will require labor, and he has also talked about people needing skills to do these jobs. So he is on the case, even if he didn’t personally answer your letter.

  345. Mike, There are not enough like you! I am a wife, mother, grandmother,nurse,and small business owner of 26 years. I have a small assisted-living home. I have kept every single application for employment that has come to my home over all these years. Everything you say is the truth.

    I take issue with the “pseudo-intellectual” that said your statment “companies struggle to find workers with necessary skills”, is ‘simply not true’!! It is very easy to spot someone who has a very narrow view of our society and definite limited experience. But have no problem showing their lack of knowledge on the internet.

    I see people young and older who “do not have the skills”! And, sadly, they want a high wage with little effort. You are doing a great service and something the schools should be doing!

  346. America was built on the backs of my grandparents and parents who did what was required to feed and clothe their families. I cam from a lower middle class family that taught me that I could be anything I wanted. I became an engineer and now I am one of those 2 percenters that are now look down upon. Government’s job is to ensure a level playing field. My job is to succeed or fail. Failure is a freedom and is just as important as success. We live in a drug induced society. My drug is hard work. I can get higher from a job well done than anybody can with any drug. We now must pick the best man to lead our country.

  347. Dear Mike,

    I love your show and watch it quite often. I always admired the way you would do whatever job was handed to you. However after reading this letter I must say…America needs more people like you! You are truely an inspiration. I now am educated to the background and reality of your show. Skilled labor is becoming uncommon, glad you are trying to educate the younger generation! I wish you much success and I truely hope the word gets out about you and what you are trying to do.


  348. Hi Mike, I so enjoy you and your show, now I am blessed to read your letter. You are so cool!!! Please ck out my foundation as well where we try to help young ladies get certified into the health, fitness, and nutrition industry.
    It is a good “job” where we concentrate on preventative health and staying healthy.
    God bless your work and your new foundation. Patti

  349. What an awesome letter you are right on in everything you said I run a container cleaning company in the south suburbs of Chicago and I have such a problem finding good help. I hope mr. Romney reads your letter and takes your words to heart.

  350. Mike, read your open letter, it was fantastic. Tracked it from Malkin’s web site.

    I did the college route from the G.I. Bill, B.S. In science, and degree in Dentistry. I was an avionics tech in the Marine Corps and also could have fallen back on that if college hadn’t worked out.

    I’m 62, have my own practice, and I work for a private company that treats prison inmates five days a month. I feel that I have a good work ethic, but today’s generation wants the cash now and buy later.

    I feel that all skills are important in today’s society and should never be condescended upon. This generation needs to learn the skills and ethics of the older generations to maintain the lead America had, or it all goes overseas to China and Latin America.

    Thanks for the insight Mike, Dave

  351. Dear Mike,
    I was a lady pipe fitter out of Local 208 fro over 20 years until a drunk drive changed my life. I firmly believe in hard work and getting dirty for a living. Thank you for all that you have done to shine a positive light on the working blue class!!!!!

  352. As the daughter of a carpenter, a sister of a carpenter and a locksmith , a wife of a builder, and the mother of a son learning the building trades at the technical school, THANK YOU! Oh ya, and I’m a goldsmith! This letter rocks!

  353. I truly believe that you are a voice calling in the wilderness and those who hear you will gain tremendous wisdom.

    My father worked many jobs but for years was employed by a large factory in town (Uniroyal/Ball Band). He was a model of hard work both in the realm of employment and at home building with his own hands multiple additions/improvements to our home and any kind of vehicle maintenance needed. He once told me of desperately trying to find work. He even followed a manager of a company he wanted to work for to a diner and sat down across from him to ‘sell’ himself. Nowadays that’s probably stalking, but to me it showed you have to think outside the box and that if you really want something to work harder than the other person. My husband is cut from the same cloth; hard work is not ‘dirty’ no matter how filthy you get at the end of the day.

    After many years in an office and with some college education, I was suddenly ‘downsized.’ I now work for a retailer o/n stocking. It AMAZES me how many folks do not have any kind of work ethic. They have no intiative and it suits them just fine if they would get fired and live off of the unemployment they believe they would receive. They believe no manager has a right to tell them to follow the rules. They have an attitude of “the company should be grateful I walked in the door.” I don’t even know how or where to begin to say how sad and disgusted I am that many folks believe they don’t need to work hard in life. Well, all work is hard…and it is for our good that it is hard. What is sad especially is these wonderful companies you have mentioned need good, driven individuals to work for them and from my experience, there are many who want the job but not the work.

    So I want to encourage you to keep educating and supporting this conversation of work in America. Thank you Mike. We need it.

  354. I watch your show quite often and think iot is great. I am 63, still working and hope to always work. I was brought up this way and am thankful that I was. I have raised 3 sons who aren’t afraid of work either. Thank you for the above leetter and the work you are doing to heighten awareness of this huge problem. I can only hope and pray that more people read this and share it with others.

    I also hope that our new (hopefully) President will read this and reach out to you.

    God Bless and keep up the great work !

  355. Mike, What an awesome letter and so very true! I applaud the way you laid it out! Why don’t you run or president you seem to have the grasp of what is truely ended to go get this country back to where we should be! You are a true American! By the way LOVE your show!

  356. Good job Mike. Glad I read all the way to the end. If your “PS” lands you in a ‘re-education camp’ – I’ll introduce myself.

  357. YAY! I am a medical massage therapist (skilled labor!) who tried the college way and it wasn’t for me. I did not find my trade until I was 35. I have helped so many people, with my hands, get back to their jobs. It was sometimes embarrassing for me to answer the question: where did you go to college? you have reminded ME that what I do (along with being a stay-at-home Mom) contributes to our Country. THANKS!

  358. Fantastic letter and I pray Mr. Romney responds!! I’m an oldie – graduated high school in 1956 – all my classmates (except the ones who got married, and still married to their same spouse)went to college. Not me – I wanted “independence.” I worked during school and worked for an additional 53 years as office administrator, airlines computer analyst, and then semi-accountant. LOVED every job, every employer and really believe 100% of what you are saying. EVERYONE is not “meant” for college.

    God Bless your PARENTS!! They raised you very well.

  359. My four (special needs) boys are homeschooled, and we often use your show “Dirty Jobs” in their education. They’ve learned a lot! This is a great letter that you’ve written, and I hope you get some good result from it!

  360. Awesome.

    I feel badly that my 17 year old son, a high school senior, feels he can’t have a decent future without a college degree. He laments that the teachers and guidance counselors promote that high school is preparation for college. And any pursuit other than college is considered “alternative”, even though I know many students who spend 4 years in college, get a degree, and then go pursue an alternative to what they learned!

    Your goal about changing the underlying view of “work” is well aimed!

  361. Mike,

    I cried when I read this letter. I am cut from blue collar cloth. My dad has been a foundry-man for 43 years now, and I had the privilege of working with and for him four my first four years out of high school. I then went on to serve a four year Tool & Die apprenticeship for General Electric. After graduating, I went to work for an orthopedic manufacturer, and also picked up extensive training in CAD/CAM programming. I worked exclusively in an office for the better part of three years, and it nearly killed me. I LOVE to make stuff, and get dirty, and I wasn’t doing it anymore. About a year ago, GE recruited me back to the shop I apprenticed in, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m back to doing what I love, with a group of men who take what they do seriously, and are darn good at it.

    We are ELATED that someone is out there championing the cause of skilled labor. We need people in our field, and many others, or they will die, along with this great nation’s ability to take care of itself.

    So again, thanks. We need all the help we can get!

  362. Pingback: Mike's Rowe's Dirty Jobs Argument
  363. I totally agree! I am from a family that everyone has a degree EXCEPT me. I went to college and worked full-time for 7 years and never finished, all because it never interested me. There was no degree that I could have gotten that would have satisfied my need to work and create. So, I decided to quit going to college and get a license in Cosmetology, my true passion. It was the best decision I ever made! My parents didn’t think so, but they aren’t the ones in my shoes going to work every day. I believe we are all given gifts and talents and that’s what makes the world work smoothly as it should. When we are all expected to get a college degree and sit in an office to be part of accepted society it going to get a little cramped in the offices and unemployment lines, just as we are seeing now! You hit the nail right on the head! Thanks for this honest look at today’s workforce! Keep up the dirty work 🙂

  364. Mike
    Great letter and great show! Understand your feelings and agree totally. I grew up in the mid-west, our family was not well off (money wise) but knowledge wise we are billionaires. Dad never threw anything away. He’d say a man made this,I can fix it. My brother and I were taught all sorts of skills and we just kept learning over the years. Brother is good a wood work and I can weld, run a lathe, design anything I need. Basically if I can get a good look at it I can build it. The looks on peoples faces when they find out it was made at home. Thanks Dad for the knowledge! Thanks Mike for a great show!

  365. Mike I am one of the many who this country runs on the backs of. I am a full time trapper on a sheep and goat ranch. No I am not government I am private. I work long hard hours (no not really messy unless you call the baits I use) but back breaking and hard work. I take pride in what I do and according to the president of the county bounty program one of one two people who actually does the job full time and well. I use to watch your show but with the hours I keep with setting and running traps and then calling at night I never have tv time. so I turned the darn thing off. Got two nice flat screens mounted on the walls but never do turn them on with the exception of bad weather then I watch a DVD if I can stay awake long enough. Anyway love your letter to Romney and I sure hope he answers you back and I applaud you for all the work you do. Top shelf all the way in my book Bud.

  366. Thank you Mr. Rowe for taking the time to write this letter & taking the time to show America that there is no shame in a “dirty job”. The pride that people show who are on your show is what this country is all about.

    As a former Boy Scout, I want to thank you for your work with the BSA.

    God Bless!

  367. Thanks Mike,

    for all the hard work, for showing people that skilled trades are a viable lifestyle, keep it up

  368. Mike,

    I am not sure you will read this personally, but thank you for supporting skilled labor and trades. Me and my family own a small water well drilling company in St. Augustine, FL and you are right on key. It is terribly hard to find anyone who wants to work out in the heat/cold doing hard manual work and learning a trade. Some people have even said they want an office job behind a computer the day they quit.

    Just wanted you to know I believe you are right on target. Everyone is not meant to have a degree or work on the inside of a building. Skilled labor and trades should not be an outcast. They are part of society and worthy employment.

  369. ‘Bout time someone with some common sense sounded off.

    I wanted to have you come see my dirty job, but…. it’s gone.

    You, Mike Rowe, are a good messenger. Keep the faith!

    Let real work live on in America!

  370. Mike, I love what your show has done and what this web site has added to it. They are both wonderful venues to showcase the real world. As for a president (or government) being able to solve the shortages and disconnect, I feel that in a large part they, and people in charge of the money, have to a great extent contributed to them. Education focuses as you have pointed out on a four year degree, education guided (in the public sphere) by the goverment. Former president Bush while in office not only implemented his own stimulus (and I use that word very lightly), encouraging people to go out and spend it on and I quote ‘big screen tv’s’ ect instead of paying off debt / bills. I feel, looking at the influence tv/hollywood has on people (including magazines and advertising), this is encouraging a lifestyle that is not only unreachable for most but is a marketed fantasy. I touch on all this to support my thought that what we (as a nation) are fed is what we believe to some degree and act on. Yes, if goverment regulated (scary word) hollywood and itself for that matter, regulated what could be printed in ads and put on tv to lift up the appeal of hard work, then perhaps people would turn in that direction. However, weve been fed a lavish lifestyle for too long and there are few who remember what hard work really is any longer. Its a battle against the environs of the day, a battle of jobs moving where labor is cheap, and a battle with a goverment that would rather tell us to take our own money given back to us on time, might I add, and spend it foolishly in an attempt to inflate a bottom line for a period of time. Its all black and white and now red and the carnage it has left is the loss of skill, and trade and ethic for what the human body was meant to do…work. I applaud you Mike. You fight a good fight and I pray that you will be able to continue for years to come. -Michelle H

  371. Mike Rowe,

    Thank you so much for caring about our country, people and gainful employment that you have invested your life in promoting work and skilled labor. I sincerely appreciate your efforts.

    I have been doing generational research and find myself confronting the same problem from a different direction. Our current generation is the first American generation not to define themselves with the terms “work ethic” and “respectful” a mainstay in the identities of all previous generations.

    I applaud your efforts… and enjoy your show. Thanks your so much for your efforts. God’s blessings. Your efforts will be in my prayers as I continue to pray for our country and the welfare of its people.

    God’s richest blessings,

    Pastor Nathan

  372. Good Morning Mike. I enjoy your show and really appreciate your humor and spontaneity! You remind me of my first boy friend!! I have seen most of your shows and my favorite was painting the Mackinaw Bridge. Maybe you could sponsor a chain of trade schools to be offered to our high school students, so they have a idea of different vocations, to see what they are capable of and what taps their ability. Thank You for all you do and May God Continue to Bless You and Those you love!

  373. Hi Mike…I am a huge fan. I am also a small business owner (of a metal finishing facility) who struggles with keeping employees on a daily basis. I applaud your letter to Mr. Romney and find it believable that President Obama never responded. I sincerely hope all your hard work helps educate Americans to the fact that getting dirty is sometimes part of the job. Good luck and God bless America.

  374. I am a homeschooling mother of three. One of many reasons that we homeschool is to counter some of the cultural norms that children educated in the main stream face. You just articulated one of those unfortunate culutral norms I am fighting against – that aversion to hard work and respect. My oldest daughter just turned 15. We have spent many years identifying her strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and have been able to find a place that allowed her to begin learning a trade as an apprentice. She has completed her apprenticeship and is now working for pay doing a job too “beneath” many mainstream highly educated (and probably highly in debt) people. She has realized something that many, many people in this country still don’t get. While all of her friends will spend years working to pay the outrageous costs of a “higher education” and then spend years paying off the debt after they graduate, she will educate herself all along the way while enjoying gainful employment and probably work in a field she loves without going into debt. It is a gift I can give her now to give her a better life in her future. Hard work! It will take my kids far and they are all known for working hard now! They “get it” and by the way, we love Dirty Jobs too. Keep up the great work.

  375. Mr. Rowe – Well said! I can’t express to you how wonderful I think your organization is… THANK YOU! My husband a lowly aircraft mechanic feels the same way with regard to “tech” schools. AMPs (airframe and powerplant) mechanics are often treated and referred to as… um just dumb mechanics. AND believe it or not they actually make less then the mechanics that work on cars! I am not saying that car mechanics should make any less but isn’t it slightly scary that these guys are responsible, literally, for hundreds of lives everyday and they are considered dumb? I hate to say this but even the so called schools they attend almost have the same perception. Very little hands on, little greasy dirty work, mostly just books and lectures. Because they are not working on full aircraft – there is a huge gap in the education. Because of my husbands passion, for safety and for aviation we are currently working with the FAA to start a “real” school, with “real” airplanes and even better… we are looking to provide the first ever military to civilian transitional course. We are starting the school without loans… every penny comes out of our pockets. Because of the economy and upcoming election we have to drop back and wait. As you know, it is not easy to start a small business today. Hopefully, with the support from hard working Americans like you, we can make a difference in America FOR AMERICANS! Thank you again for your letter and your support!

  376. Truly excellent letter, I echo the sentiments. Would love to see similar letters sent to the govenors of each state, especially Michigan (where I live)which was built by the skilled trades and many “dirty jobs.” Among those dirty jobs: Mining, lumber, auto manufacturing, construction.

    I am an electronics and controls technician at a power plant in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and 20 year veteran of U.S. Navy and appreciate your support of skilled labor!

  377. Mike Rowe,

    I appreciate you taking the time to create this letter. I have felt like a lone voice among my peers in saying that I want my children to do what they wish to do in life and would be just as thrilled if they wanted to be skilled labor as if they were to be a doctor, lawyer, or even president. I love the idea of apprenticeship and as point of fact have spoken to people in trade about the possibility of my sons being apprenticed as soon as the law allows. (they are as yet, too young) Skilled labor and Hard Work needs to be venerated, not vilified. Thank you for your Hard Work in getting this message out!

  378. Mike, I have enjoyed dirty jobs for many years, and always knew you were more than just a pretty face. I had not heard of mikeroweWORKS. My cousin ministering in Italy shared this letter- Congratulations on creating such a terrific organization. I sure hope presidential candidate Romney responds to you.

  379. Dear Mike, I really appreciate your letter. Cut and dried, more people need to realize exactally what you stated. The working man and women in our society are certainly not looked at very highly. Yet, they (we) are the very backbone and the heartbeat of what this country is all about. Sadly, you are correct in stating that the “common” man/women are not appreciated for the work they do. Society has gotten very far away from the basic philosophy on which this country was founded upon. Not doubt, our country has been instrumental in many many areas of industry. Great things have come out of the minds, the sweat, the blood of many to developed the fantastic world we enjoy today. Nothing has been too hard, too dangerous, too dirty, for our fellow and previous countrymen. The biggest and best accomplishments ever known has come from the sweat, the blood, and the minds of all of us. I salute you in your work to show people the basic jobs that are instrumental in our countries workforce.

  380. Dear Mike,

    God bless you for speaking up for the need of skilled labor in our country and being in support of trade schools!! In all honesty, I believe the old “technical institutes” (of which I am an LPN graduate!) turned out a mighty fine working class. We are ambitious, responsible, dedicated individuals and very well schooled to cope with anything the workforce can throw at us! Nowadays even after 4 years in school, kids aren’t sure of what to do in their jobs!

    Please continue on in your endeavors to help kids apply themselves with pride to the most needed (and overlooked) careers not necessarily in costly 4 year degree programs! Blessings!

  381. Mike –

    I avoid politics like the plague. But, as a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, and as someone with an MBA who quit corporate America to start a small furniture business in his garage – I whole heartedly agree with your assessment. I enjoy working with my hands, exponentially more than any thing I ever did behind a desk. I wish more people would come around to your way of thinking.


  382. Excellent, Mike. I’ve done some dirty jobs myself–including chicken trimmer, cafeteria wench, and dish slave. While those are not exactly skilled occupations, the opportunities for unskilled workers who want to learn a trade are shrinking. The manufacturing jobs are gone. Remaining jobs don’t pay very much, certainly not enough to make ends meet.

    If a kid wants to work in one of these occupations, and he’s lucky, he’ll find something that will make him happy and also furnish him a decent life. It’s more than just the jobs; it’s the whole package. I’m afraid the ones in charge of our economy no longer care.

  383. Mike…love the letter!! I wholeheartedly agree with you concerning the much needed mind-shift concerning education in America. This is one reason we homeschool our 3 boys. As they become young men we look forward to them learning skills from different men in our church. In a few years our intentions are to gut our 50 year old vacation home and have our boys along with other homeschool boys learn all about home remodeling. It’s a win-win, we get labor and they learn a skill. 😉 Thank for all you do to bring awareness to the need for labor skills.


  384. I am in whole hearted agreement with your statement! I have been an educator in 9-12 for the past 34 years. I have seen the pendulum swing in this country from having, and promoting great vocational programs like FFA, of which I was a proud member, to totally destroying vocational education in favor of academics. The problem is, there are students out there who could give a rip about academics! If they are anything like me, it is those classes like auto, ag or some other voc tec class that turns them on. My ag classes were what kept me on track in high school. I loved them! I loved getting dirty wrestling my critters and seeing the reward of my hard work in the show ring. It was the carrot that kept me going to school. As educators, we’ve lost the carrot. There is value, and a lot of it in vocational education. We need to get it back. I am at your service in any way I can help with your foundation. Count me in!

  385. WAY TO GO, MIKE!!

    My husband and I have been fans of yours for a couple years. We LOVE what you do on Dirty Jobs and you are so right about our culture. We have forgotten the value of hard work. Interestingly enough… I am college-degreed, highly qualified, and unemployed. I’ve been looking for over 10 months now. I’ve even wondered if I should go back to school to become a plumber, or something like that, as THOSE jobs are available!!

    ANYWAY, enough about me. Good luck & God speed in your venture. Thank you for using your success to better our society! I like you even more now. 🙂

  386. Kudos to you! In today’s society of selling education (that’s exactly what the colleges and universities are doing), the price keeps going up, the job opportunities are going down, and they graduate with mountains of debt that take them half their working lifetime to pay off. As an skilled manufacturing employer, we find it hard to locate suitable, young people who are willing to learn a trade. I sincerely hope you can help to change the stigma that manual work is almost taboo and that the only way to succeed is through a Bachelors or Masters degree. There are plenty of people proving that idea wrong daily.

  387. This is why my co-founder and I started to help close the skills gap by enabling job seekers to learn relevant job skills directly from employers. It’s where employers can tell prospective employees what skills they need to know and where to learn up on it.

    I completely agree with you about America’s changing perspective on skilled labor and something has to be done about it.

    Thank you so much for writing this.

  388. I love it! I was so glad to hear someone say what I have long felt. I was happy to see someone be as proud of the type of people who are a dying breed. I was born and raised in central Louisiana. My father, his father, and so on down the line, were farmers. My family has a history of hard work, big hearts, strong backs, and food on the table. After my father passed away, I no longer see the same world I saw as a child. Gone are the golden years, and not just because he’s gone. The generation now, they don’t farm. Our farmers are dying away. No one seems to get excited over dove season, deer, teal. No one hunts anymore. Hard work and living off the land has become third class. Not wanted, but much needed. We need to bring back what a hard days work once meant. College is great. Education is a must. But so are our old ways.

  389. Mike – I already thought you were the coolest dude ever. This put you over the top.
    Love this letter so much. I couldn’t agree more!

    Thank you for speaking the truth.

  390. I believe this is one of the such a lot significant information for me. I am happy studying your article. But should observation on few basic things, the site taste is wonderful, the articles is really great : D. Good process, cheers

  391. Mike,this is great. Have you ever tried to find someone to put in a new closet door or put in a electrical outlet or have some work done on your kitchen unless you pay a big contractor a million bucks. Also little things like building window boxes. Things like this have long fallen by the wayside and no one has down them from their home since my dad did them and I’m considered old. When will theses crafts return?

  392. I put the link to this article on the Romney campaign page and received this back:


    Thank you for contacting Romney for President. We appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with us and will pass your comments along to the appropriate campaign contact.

    Again, thank you for your suggestion. We value your input.


    Kathryn Breiwa

    Deputy Director of External Relations

    Very much a form letter, but more than I have ever received from the president.

  393. Hi Mike,

    While I myself am the product of a four year degree, I fully understand and appreciate the need for skilled tradesmen. I am proud to that my oldest son has chosen the trades as his career path and, at 22, has completed over 2 years of a four year electrician apprenticeship.

    In my day job I am the housing and real estate developer for a nonprofit community based organization in Newark NJ.

    It is frustrating to see first hand on a daily basis the toll unemployment takes in the communities we serve while on the other hand contractors struggle to find trained journeymen. Many programs that tout training end up offering laborers. While every job needs laborers, how many can be absorbed?

    My jobs are primarily residential, rehabilitating or building one to four family homes sold the cadre of contractors we use are small to mid sized and lack resources to have much untrained workers that they can train.

    Looking back at my family history, my father comes from a long long of cabinet makers and my mother, from a family of carpenters. At the time solid jobs that got them through the depression, not in the lap of luxury, but they survived with dignity.

    We as a nation have lost touch with what made this the greatest place on earth. It was what we build with our hands, our backs and the sweat on our brows. An decent wage for an honest days work.

    Enough of my soap box philosophising.

    If you’re ever in our area, come see some of the proud tradesmen (and women) that are getting dirty helping us bring back are our once proud urban center.

    Don Baldyga

  394. Mike,

    The problem is the bulk of parents these days are too easy on their kids. Hence many have a sense of entitlement since they’ve been given everything since they were a kid. If I told my dad that I wanted to play video games instead of helping him, he would have smashed the game to pieces instead I hear parents just complaining about how lazy their kids are. I posted this article with the following header on my facebook page: “Kids these days are so damn spoiled and lazy that tradesmen are becoming fewer and farther between to find, and the good honest ones are even fewer still. If you can’t find a job, you should consider picking a skill up even if its dirty work.”

    I’m not a career tradesman but my wife and I with our best friend, enjoy working on stuff that our friends who are in their 20s and 30s, tell us they’ll just pay someone to do. I was raised by a self-raised engineer who said, you should always learn to do things yourself and hence I’ve always worked on my own cars, computers and home. However, none of my siblings have that work ethic and I look around me feel like a dinosaur in a young man’s body as most of the people who share my passion of doing their own work, to be in the over 50 category.

    This needs to change and people need to learn that there’s a rite of passage to success, which starts with learning about hard work and determination, not just sliding by.

  395. Thank you Mike Rowe. We reared our grandson from 6 months
    to adulthood. He chose not to return to college after
    freshman year. We were disappointed, but he dug in and
    worked as a ranch hand, kitchen help, etc. He got a job
    as plumber’s helper with local company. He has passed 3
    levels, testing and passing requirements for the next
    level. We have always been proud of him, but you have made
    us realize what a productive, happy life he can have
    without degrees… Thanks Mike.

  396. Mike Rowe for President!

    You really would be the perfect president. Common Sense to spare… something the American People haven’t seen in a long time, I’m afraid.

    No more politicians should hold any public office. We need smart, honest, hard-working patriots to revive the real meaning of the United States of America.

    Every ‘official’ should pay taxes, take pay cuts, get ‘Obamacare’, lose their jobs, and suffer consequences like the rest of us in this sinking boat.

    It’s easy to spend money when you don’t have to earn it yourself.

  397. Dear Mike,

    I enjoyed you on #MorningJoe Did you notice they were keying you up hoping you would knock Romney and praise Obama? Gov Romney is the real deal it’s not just a photo op when he stands at a plant or with coal miners. Do you follow Charlie Daniels crying for help for Coal Miners: My response Dorothy K Carter‏@Dcarter888K

    @CharlieDaniels How about teaming up with @MittRomney crying to congress is a waste of your breath. A Pres Romney has 8yr energy plan

    I hope U will follow up with @MittRomney & @PaulRyanVP they are down to earth and the real deal. They will keep Republic from going bankrupt and do have a plan to help people out of work with training.

    The Panel on Morning Joe were shocked when you told them Gov Romney wrote you back within 2 weeks. He’s that honorable. I hope you team up with him.

    Thank You!

  398. It is not only the skilled trades but whole industries are seen as beneath the new generation. I work in the steel industry as a supervisor and though we have thousands apply for hourly positions (who wouldn’t at $25.00/hour) we cannot find new young supervisors. It is nearly impossible to tempt a newly graduated engineer to work shifts in a place that is hot in the summer (120 degrees on the shop floor this summer), frigid in the winter, and dirty all the time. And they will start at pay rates 10-15% higher than a desk job. To find supervisors we have to go the older possibly laid off supervisors from other plants and/or industries. I have a degree and live a very upper middle-class lifestyle by working for a living. The young generation think work entails includes air conditioned office, a computer, and restaurants for lunch. It’s going to be very hard to change their mind!

    By the way, I had to be a carpenter, electrician, plumber, burner, “honey-dipper” or sewage removal expert, as well as others to support my family over the years. My brothers are much the same as was our father and his father. I love your show when I can watch but shift work doesn’t always allow for a scheduled social life. This site is impressive – keep up the good work.


  399. Hi Mike!

    I just want to say you’re right! As a teacher, I have seen the interest in skilled labor decline over the past 22 years. Some folks don’t see the jobs you highlight as an option, but see handouts from the government as ok.

    I firmly believe that each person has talents and interests that should be nurtured, even if they are not going to college and becoming the boss of a company. After all, we can’t all be the chief, right?

    Thanks for what you are doing forAmerica and it’s kids!

  400. Mike:

    Like many of those that leave comments I’m sure we all started working in our late single and early double digit age group. Shoveling snow, mowing lawns, delivering papers, baby sitting…anything to raise cash to buy that bicycle, bb-gun, 35mm camera, etc.

    Kid’s today are protected by law from working until they are 16. So from the ages of 12-16 they sit at home, play video games and veg. We’ve done this to ourselves. Now the labor department is focusing on those children living on farms. Cruel and unusual punishment is the phrase they pass around…

    Unless we allow our children to work at an earlier age, they will never learn the value of a dollar. Nor will they will ever respect how hard we need to work for what we have.

    Thank you for the effort you put into everything you touch. You’re an inspiration, and proof that one person can make a difference!

  401. Mike, I am an apprentice with the Plumbers Local 55 in Cleveland Ohio, and I would like to say thank you for the hard work you and your team have invested in this site.

    Hard work is good work, and good work is hard. I only wish I was pushed in the direction of the skilled trades from an early age. Instead I was told I would never get a good job if I didn’t get a college degree. I struggled a lot with college dropping out several times only to find myself without a college degree and a low paying office job, but since joining the apprenticeship program I feel like I finally found my place in life. I enjoy the job tremendously, and brag all the time about the new skills I am learning. Best part about it is my in class training will earn me an associates degree in construction management from TRI-C (Cuyahoga Community College).

    Thanks again, and remember without skilled plumbers your day would stink!

    Andrew Vacca, Local 55 apprentice

  402. Mike,

    I started working with a brick and block crew at 14 years old ( off school hours). Today, I manage 2 production facilities. Many of the folks I have coming through here (both young and old) are happy to work only 4 days a week…3 even better. It is unbelievable. There have been a few whom I would have loved to offer better opportunities, but they have no drive. Much of this I believe is due to entitlements. Subsidies given for those who don’t want to put in a full work week. Why do it when they don’t have to? Its sad. Keep up the great work. Surely, you are making a difference.

  403. In California Vocational Education was the real deal. Unfortunately it became less important when college prep courses became the only game in town. We have lost so many bright young people to boredom in school because they are hands-on learners and creators. The continuation high schools are full of these kids, until they leave with no outlet for learning a practical skill. In California we are overwhelmed with state mandated programs, federal mandated programs and guess what, they always say the money is coming. Well, I served on a school board for nine years and the money did not always come so it has to come from somewhere, the things that might inspire. Neither party has a lock on failure in this, they are in bed. Beware vouchers, corporate schools waiting to expand at the expense of the poor and uninformed.

  404. Hi Mike,

    I am a fan of “Dirty Jobs” as well as a participant. As a 30 year journeyman wireman I understand and agree with the message of your letter. I am currently working as a membership development coordinator for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 86 in Rochester, NY. I work with the next generation of electrician every day explaining to them the value of learning a skilled trade. Although the numbers of applicants applying for the apprenticeship program are decreasing, there are still plenty of qualified applicants to choose from. I talk to kids in high schools and technical colleges about becoming a journeyman electrician. Our apprentices receive a complete education including photovoltaic and wind generation. Today’s youth are very different than a couple generations ago. I’ve taken several classes in how to communicate with the youth of today including the use of multi media. I applaud your show and the work you’re doing with the American worker. We both know how hard the work truly is and it’s about time someone shined a spotlight on American Labor giving them some recognition. It doesn’t matter union or non union; we’re all tradesmen trying to make a living to support our familes.

    I AM disappointed to hear your letter 4 years ago to President Obama went unanswered but I still absolutely believe the current administration has a better direction to bolster the American worker than the alternative. Keep up the great work you do and if the is anything I can do to help the cause please contact me.

  405. Mike, I am so impressed with your letter. You are spot on!

    I work on cars in my own business and see so many people who know nothing about their cars and don’t want to learn.

    They couldn’t repair a sprinkler on their lawn and don’t want to learn. Or change out a leaky tap or fix a broken side walk with new cement. And don’t want to learn.

    I think these things are great fun but folks like me are few and far between. I believe in education but is a four year degree all there is?

    As skilled fix it men and women ( yes there are excellent auto mechanics who happen to be women ) become less and less in number they will be able to charge more and more.

    Some one told me years ago ” Find some needed service that no one wants to do and do it well and charge accordingly.”

  406. Dear Mike I love your shows, I love the most Deadliest Catch you are amazing.
    I commend you to be our New Secretary of Labor under Mitt Romney Administration.

    With your help and people like you we have allready a VICTORY, my next president is Mitt Romney. By the way I love your letter to Romney.


    Janie Dominguez
    An unemployed grass rooter in San Antonio, Texas. God Bless

  407. Amen, Mike! As an electrical contracotr we are experiencing exactly what you are talking about. There is a shortage of skilled tradespeople in America, due in large part to the common and widespread misconception that every kid needs to go to college…

  408. Great letter, Mike! And you’re spot-on in your statement that we don’t appreciate our skilled labor. I have a 4-year college degree and have a valid teaching license. I work as a substitute teacher and am a mother of 4, and I agree that we as a society do not encourage our young people to get their hands dirty. It’s all about getting that 4-year degree. Anything less is considered just that — LESS. If you don’t have a degree, you obviously weren’t smart enough, or you didn’t have the drive, or you didn’t have the wealth, or your family wasn’t good enough …. Without college, society’s opinion of you is that you are lower-class.

    My husband is a certified journeyman tool-and-die maker. He did not go to college, but he did attend 4 years of night school to get the training he needed to receive his journeyman’s card. He studied a heavy load of math and science at night while working full-time during the day, all while we had babies and young children at home. He’s been working at his trade now for almost 20 years and loves it.

    My husband constantly tells me how difficult it is for his employer to find good hard workers for “blue-collar” jobs, running presses, benders, welders, etc. More and more labor workers find it easier to sit home and collect unemployment than to actively search and perform jobs. People aren’t willing to take what they consider a “low-class” job in skilled labor. Our society has bred a generation of people too willing to take the paycheck without working for it.

    And it gets worse: He recently told me that, here in Ohio at least, no longer can one become a tool-and-die maker without a 4-year college degree. What’s the logic of that? Since when does a machinist need to know humanities, literature, or a foreign language to do his job? And how many college grads are going to put in their 4 years and tens of thousands of dollars and then decide, “Oh, gee, I guess I’ll be a blue-collar worker”? This new ruling has already made certified journeymen a rare breed.

    Thanks, Mike, for all you’re doing with your TV show to enlighten the American people, and for your willingness to draw the attention of our candidates to this issue. I sincerely hope that our nation sees how we’re self-destructing by not supporting those hard-working people willing to do the jobs the rest of us don’t want.

  409. Mike,

    You are a true American who harbors a deep love for this country and for those who want to be independent and self-sufficient.It is sad that Mr. Obama promoted healthcare rather than promoting job growth and small enterprise during his presidency. You have hit the right note regarding your concerns. My husband and I relocated from philadelphia,pa to charleston,wv last year. We purchased a small apartment building on the est side of charleston ith the hopes of not only providing for our family, but to improve the neighborhood aesthetically and economically.e desire to somehow buy a farm in one of the rural counties and bring inner-city youth to it and teach them life skills that will assist them to choose a healthy and positive liestyle. God bless you with your work.


  410. mikeroweWORKS! Great to see that you keep putting good ideas in front of our nation’s leadership. I am even more excited to see that Gov Romney responded positively and only wish that the President might have as well. I hope that this is a precursor to a Romney administration that would reach out to those with hands-on experience in various areas that can help get America working again! Mark Crawford, Ohio

  411. Hi Mike!

    I have loved watching your show for years, even have a little crush on you, but I appreciate your letter to Romney and see that Obama has done nothing to improve jobs for any workers.

    Keep up the great work Mike and I appreciate your great sense of humor.

    Hopefully Romney will become our next President before Obama drives America further into the ground.

    My choice was and always will be Hillary Clinton. A true Democrat.

  412. Mike

    Maybe I missed it but have you ever done a show on retail Meatcutters? that was my trade for 40 years , talk about a dirty job. I can easily say it is one occupation that is so lacking in professional journeyman meatcutters at this time. Nobody is training them. Companies are begging for them. After taking some time off I made one phone call and was working in a management retail meat position the next day.

    I am thrilled that you are working with Romney. I’ve supported him for years , even being a union trade member.

    Thanks Mike and catch a crab for me.

  413. Mickey Mantel said it best when he said, “It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you’ve been playing all your life.” I think that’s the problem with America. We are so busy with self-promotion that we do not have a clue how electricity is made, or where the water in our toilet comes from, or why the milk at the store isn’t spoiled, or the thousands of “miracles” which other people provide for us. I made an observation once that the scientist (that’s what I am) can do nothing but discover, the engineer must design, the mechanic must make it function, the operator must maintain it or everything stops. Any of these alone are impotent without the support of the others. Many years ago I was helping my garbage man take away my household refuse. He was feeling down. I asked why. He explained that he didn’t feel like he was worth anything. I told him he was more valuable to this community than all the movie stars, all the sports figures, and all the other over-priced phonies who produce nothing of real value. I hope I lifted his spirits some because that’s true. See how long you would last if you had to keep your own garbage. Appreciate the working man or watch your nation die.

  414. The sentiment Mr. Rowe expresses in both of these letters is certainly a worthy one, though I can’t help but see the irony in asking a man who built his fortune in private equity to campaign on the value of a hard day’s work, but I digress. The problem, as I see it, isn’t that skilled trades are popularly seen as “alternative”. It’s that our young people simply aren’t incentivized to go into these lines of work. I have nothing against hard and dirty work (believe me, I do all home improvements myself and have some degree of skill in a variety of disciplines). However, a lot of these jobs (specifically infrastructure) are supported by the government. They’re also the first that are cut in an economic downturn. How many new homes did you see built in 2009? How about road projects that actually progressed (naturally, I mean *before* the stimulus)? These jobs generally have little security, long hours, dangerous conditions, and comparatively little pay and fewer benefits than those that require a 4-year degree. Another thing that Mr. Rowe neglects to mention as he waxes poetic about a by-gone era in which hard, dirty work was valued… strong unions. Unions are the reason that our parents and grandparents were able to raise a family on their pay as a machinist or pipe fitter. They are the reason that we have a 40-hour work week and a weekend. They are the reason there’s a middle class in this country. Yet private-sector union membership (as a percentage of the total workforce) is in the single digits. Union membership in general is denigrated. If we want people to consider a career in the skilled trades, they need to be treated with respect. That means better pay, better benefits, and better job security.

    Mr. Rowe, I love the show and I respect your cause, but we need to treat the illness, not the symptom.

  415. Pingback: ‘Dirty Jobs’ host helps Romney at Ohio event | My Job Advice - simple job employment advice - find a job today!
  416. Hi Mike!

    I’ve always loved your shows, and think what you’ve done for the Discovery channel is nothing short of amazing.

    I liked this letter a lot, even though it’s addressed to someone I don’t plan to vote for. *grins* Here’s the part that doesn’t make sense to me:

    “and many of the jobs this current administration has tried to “create” over the last four years are the same jobs that parents and teachers actively discourage kids from pursuing. (I always thought there was something ill-fated about the promise of three million “shovel ready jobs” made to a society that no longer encourages people to pick up a shovel.)”

    So the problem is with the country’s way of thinking of anything involving manual labor, right? That concept seems to be the main focus of the letter, and I happen to agree with it. So why take a swipe at the current administration (your choice of words and tone made it pretty clear) for effectively trying to change that?

    Your doing that seems very counter-productive to me, and I question the motives behind your statement.

    I also find it interesting that you start off with telling Romney if he reads it through to the end you’ll vote for him…and yet at the end of the letter claim you’re not politically motivated here.

    Come on, Mike…at least be honest.

    And like you “never heard back from Obama” in 2009…I doubt I’ll hear back from you, now. I actually don’t expect to. I’ll still watch your shows, even if I don’t agree with your politics.

  417. Obama at the Dem Convention:

    “So you see, the election four years ago wasn’t about me. It was about you. My fellow citizens, you were the change.”

    Yup, you chumps were the change alright:

    23 million unemployed

    43 straight months of 8+% unemployment

    45 million on food stamps

    Black poverty at record highs

    The middle class has lost 33% of its net worth under Obama

    Black youth unemployment over 50%

    Hispanic unemployment at 10.3%

    Illegals due to receive roughly $7.4 billion through Obama’s Additional Child Tax Credit.

    Food prices up 15% under Obama

    Gas prices doubled under Obama

    Obama has the worst job creation record since 1945

    Obama recovery the worst in 75 years

    Median household income $4,300 declines under Obama

    Average family health insurance up $1,500 under Obama

    Added $6 trillion to our debt…more than all Prezs. Combined

    Presided over only US credit downgrade

    Over 100 million people on some form of means tested welfare

    Obama’s Failed policies hurt 100% of Americans

  418. Mike, my husband and I have always watched and enjoyed your shows. You are a very brave man. We appreciate the glimpses into jobs that so many of us wouldn’t want to do, but someone has too. I am pleased about your foundation and your efforts to educate the public about necessary jobs and train young people to do them. I love your letter to Romney and I hope that his presidency and your foundation can work closely together. We MUST get this country back on track and I appreciate your efforts to help do just that. Thanks again!

  419. Pingback: State Elections » Archive » 'Dirty Jobs' host hits the trail with Romney
  420. Mike, I am a huge Fan but your recent support of Mitt Romney has to stop. Mike please stop supporting the Romney campaign because anyone that calls 47% of Americans losers should not be the president of the United States. I believe I speak for many of your fans. Hate to see you support someone that looks down on so many of us and someone that wants to outsource America and take away all the jobs that you promote. Hard working Americans deserve better.

    God bless


  421. This is a great cause and your show was instrumental in my starting a food trailer business. My best days in the past two years have been when I’ve been at my sweatiest, dirtiest and most tired. I’ve also found that I get the most amount of respect from my blue collar friends.

    I have an 8 year old son and he will not look at dirty jobs with anything but respect and that’s because of you. I don’t think you could have worked with all the people you have and not backed Romney.

    Best wishes.

  422. WOW Mike! I can’t believe you “endorsed” Willard Mitt Romney and let him use you like a pawn. This is the guy who called 47% of the country “victims” that he doesn’t need to worry about. Of course, however, they are mostly the eldery, vets, and unemployed/underemployed workers who need to be retrained for these skilled jobs you are talking about. The congressional GOP has voted numerous times to defund and dismantle job retraining programs for the skilled jobs you are talking about so I am not sure why you think Willard would be any different. I am one of your many viewers who just deleted your show(s) from my DVR and will be anxiously waiting to see your ratings go down just like Willard’s.


  423. Unbelievable! You must’ve been in Australia too long that you’ve missed what Mittens stands for…Rowe what a let down.

  424. Mike, I’ve been a fan for so long and I love your message. But, I think you have it all wrong with the messenger you just endorsed. In all fairness, if you are not politically motivated, will you share the stage with President Obama to deliver your message?

  425. WTF!!! Why attend a Romney event? I thought you were the man that worked the dirty jobs. Well, maybe your right. Mitt/ Bain Have send sent them overseas.

  426. Very disappointed to see you on the stage of a man who’s company outsourced jobs including mine in2000. Obama has a spine and a plan. Romney has no convictions. Would you consider yourself a politically astute observer? It might be a while before I can watch your show.

  427. Mike, I have watched you from the beginning and have always loved your show. I am in the category of those upset to see you on stage with Mitt who is not and never will be a friend of blue collar workers like myself. I went thru 5 years of apprenticeship and have been a Union Electrician for 27 years. It’s no secret that Republicans hate unions as we tend to vote Democrat. We make up a large percent of the middle class and we make wages that you could buy a house with as well send your kids to college. It’s my belief that most Republicans would be happy with a two class society, one vacant of the well paid construction worker. They tend to prefer the right to work state where everyone makes minimum wage. Lots of you out there would love to blame this president for everything but we all know how his tenure started. There has never been a Republican President who has not left this country with anything but a deficit, even their beloved actor Ronald Regan. They know nothing of fiscal responsibility. They also stated their intent on making this president a one term president and have done nothing to help him or our country move forward. They didn’t support the American Jobs act or unemployment for those of us laid off from the failed policies of George. They did support welfare for the rich and bailing out all the banks. Anyway Mike I hope you give this president a chance with a less combative congress. Also realize as a third generation electrician guys like Mitt have never been our friend and never will. If they did I would consider voting for them. I will try to over look your choice to share the stage with this man but as a fellow hard working man beg you to reconsider. Your a Pisces too. I would have figured you to be more evolved…haa. I will do my best not to judge you. Dave.

  428. I’ve seen you tackle some pretty nasty jobs, but You’ve take this dirty jobs theme to a whole other level when you stepped into politics. All I can say is wear a bio-hazard suite and make sure you don’t get any on you.

    I grew up on a farm, the son of a blue collar steel worker here in Colorado. I’m not a stranger to hard physical labor. I really applaud your effort to get recognition for skilled labor. Like you I don’t care which party is going to support this effort, but I think it is a matter of national security that we get someone’s attention on this. We have become a nation of accountants and sales and marketing people with no thought to producing anything that makes those jobs possible. We turn a blind eye to illegal emigration because we need people who are willing to learn and do the jobs that we tell ourselves is beneath us. If we don’t reverse this trend and get people back to work, we will find that there is nothing beneath us as we free fall.

    Keep up the good work, and ignore these “miss guided” folks (I altered my term) who think it has to be one party or the other.

  429. Hi Mike, been watching you for a long time, love your show. The letter you sent to President Obama was dated 10 days after he was sworn into office, my guess he had a little bit on his plate, like saving the country from going under. The person you was on stage with does not care about blue collar workers. You’re a smart man, President Obama is the man you want and need to be on stage with, He wants to HELP the working class and wants more trade schools. I know Mr. Romney said you was not endorsing him and you have no party affiliation but from the letters and comments from people I know , It looks like you’re guilty by association. Not sure if Mr. Obama would want you on stage with him now but HE was the person who would be the one who would have advanced your program. Good luck Mike, just wished you had chosen the Other Stage to Help you out!

  430. Proper etiquette for a program with “no political agenda,” I think, would have been to wait until January 2013 to send the letter, and to address it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, just as before.

  431. Congratulations Mike, you just did your Dirtiest Job EVER! Despicable! I sure hope you got paid a lot for your appearance with Mitt, because your ACTING was some of your best! Never again will I watch your shows or buy anything you endorse. Wake up and smell the coffee dweeb!

  432. So disappointed. I was dismayed. It doesn’t matter who you support; it’s none of my business. But to actively campaign for someone who disparages the demonized “47%?” Oh, that’s right. You’re no longer in that category.

  433. Well, sorry to see you have gone partisan. Having gone from dirty to clean and back and forth a few times, always had respect for you and your efforts.

    However, standing in front of a 25 foot Romney sign at a Romney rally is *not* non-partisan.

    I am always sad when a public figure stakes out some political corner for reasons that can never be understood (see Sean Penn.) But you have chosen your corner, and I wish you luck and good fortune, neither of which I will support with my eyes or wallet again.

  434. Proper etiquette for a program with “no political agenda,” I think, would have been to wait until January 2013 to send the letter, and to address it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, just as before.

    It is predictable that some would want to limit speech often couched to make it sound sooo reasonable but the intent is clear. Listen to the condescension… “We don’t mind if you say these things, when it doesn’t matter.”

    Mike, you are a great American. Have always loved your show. Now, thanks to the libtards, I have found your great website.

  435. Mike, you are right on the money. I wont take a lot of space explaining my opinions. but as I read these comments, I clearly see how the left always responds. Upset with you that you have an opinion that doesn’t agree with theirs. They can’t point to what Obama has done good…they can only point to what George Bush and Mitt Romney have done wrong in their opinion. I applaud the blue collar worker and want to see them succeed. Your works and your show support that and always have. You did offer your thoughts to Obama who chose to ignore them. Just because Romney chose to listen, that makes YOU wrong? Please. Keep up the good work!!

  436. I have to agree with the many on here criticizing you on your hypocritical comments. You say you have no political agenda, yet you go on stage for a man running for president that not only has no plan to help the “working class” but shows his disdain for them everyday by his insensitive comments. You also sent President Obama his letter AFTER he was elected and in the White House and had to point out that he did not respond….not that he wasn’t busy cleaning up a HUGE mess left to him by the previous administration. Your endorsement of Mitt Romney shows to me that you do not support education, programs for seniors and low income, and women’s rights which are some of the big issues on the chopping block. I WILL NOT be watching your show anymore and have lost any of the little respect I have for you as an individual that can relate to the “working class” American. I hope for your family’s sake that you celebrity status has allowed you to accumulate enough wealth to provide for their health concerns as they grow older…heaven knows that if these bozos get into office, the concept of available and affordable healthcare will be a thing of the past. Hope you can sleep at night because many can not with the worry of our future under Romney/Ryan. I won’t expect a response.

  437. Just want to say thank you for what you are trying to do and it is an encouragement to me. I think many people (just by reading the comments) still would take political rhetoric over actually fixing the problems at hand. Maybe more people should actually read what you are trying to do, which to me, sounds exactly like what everybody should be trying to do Rep. or Dem. Just sayin

  438. When will the labor unions and others who think that somehow the Democrat agenda supports their cause actually wake up? Obama is a failure in fulfilling his promises, plain and simple. He has done nothing to make “shovel ready” jobs – he even said if things aren’t better by the end of his first term he wouldn’t run again. Well Mr. President, things aren’t better. You said so yourself. “You won’t see change tomorrow, or next week. It takes time.”

    Well Mr. President, your time is up.

    “Oh, but he’s saving healthcare!” Bull cookies! He’s spending money he doesn’t have. He’s writing checks his body (or the country) can’t cash!

    Mike – I applaud your efforts in championing the cause of the workers regardless of the political party involved. I just hope that some day, unions and organized labor will wake up and stop blindly supporting their poster children.

  439. First of all… I love your show and the sincerity in which you do your job.

    I just read you letter…. and I thank you for your effort in trying to change the perception of the “skilled trade”. I grew up in a 3rd world country and move here is the US back in the mid 80’s… And since then has been a steady decline of interest in the blue collar industries. I wish you good luck and God Speed in your journeys. Keep the Dirty in you Alive!


  440. Mike,

    Bravo on your excellent letters!

    Many seem to miss that you’ve been willing to work with either political stream… Please don’t let them get to you.

    I greatly respect and appreciate what you are attempting to do. Honestly, I hadn’t quite thought through the issue in this way before, but I quickly found myself agreeing completely.

    I own an auto repair business, employing eleven hard working “dirty” people. I’m not “on the floor” anymore (paperwork… don’t get me started on that), but you know what? I miss it. There’s nothing like being exhausted at the end of a day of good, honest work.

    Keep it up my man. I was a fan already, but it’s at a whole new level now.


  441. Thank you for getting your ideas out to the current and hopefully future leader of our country. I would love to have my desk job back but, even in retirement, I work in a dirty job. Actually follows that I have those jobs at home also with 6 horses to feed because I cannot find 4 of them new homes. So as a retiree, I work with the elderly cleaning up in all ways after them. (You can only imagine)

    Well, our current was given a chance, although after investigation I would still not have voted for him. The unfortunate situation is that we only have two choices and Romney was not my frist anyway.

    I am thrilled he read your letter, responded and you came to Ohio to speak your mind. Would have like to have been there but I was “cleaning up” for money.

    If you want assistance getting the “word” out there,feel free to contact me and I will try to muster up a venue which can contribute to your cause.

    Come sing with me sometime.


  442. Mr. Rowe let me start by offering you my sincerest appology for being dissapointed to see you with mitt romney, who I consider the poster child for indifference towards all that you and those on your show do and stand for. I have loved you and what you do and stand for since the first episode of DJ, so I had to know why you were with that clown, and it wasnt until I found this website that I found that you first approached Obama years ago to no avail. This has me really dissapointed in him. By the way I am a master carpenter, working on high end homes on Long Island in NY, mostly in the Hamptons. Ive been in the const. business for 20 yrs and have seen first hand the attitude and respect level for what I do deminish to the point where sometimes I need to walk away from these people before I knock their disrespectfull ass out. So what I am trying to say is THANK YOU for the crusade that you are on, WE NEED YOU. By the way I graduated top of my class in high school, and have 2 degrees but CHOSE to do what I do out of love for the trade and a need to make an HONEST living and be outdoors in the sun in nothin but shorts and a tool belt.

  443. Skilled labor is the backbone of America. I am the wife of a small business owner–he works 12 hours on average every single day (he did build that 😉 ). we love your show and love the fact you showcase hard work! Thank you 🙂

  444. My son goes to a high school where nearly everyone aspires to go to a 4-year-college. The thrust of all the counseling the students get is “college bound”. My son — who scored in the 95% on his college entrance exams — has chosen to go to technical school and become an aircraft mechanic. I for one, want the the brightest people working on a plane that I am going to fly in. Our family had to seek out a career path for this son because he loves tinkering, working with his hands and building things. The school system is set up to funnel kids into college where many drink themselves into oblivion and drop out or graduate without being able to meaningful work. Thanks for championing skilled labor!

  445. Pingback: ‘Dirty Jobs’ host helps Romney at Ohio event | News from around the world
  446. As much as I appreciate what you have done with your show demonstrating the importance of what many see as menial jobs, I am absolutely flabbergasted that you would appear on stage with Mitt Romney. Romney epitomizes all that is wrong with America and the lack of respect for many of the hardworking people that keep this country running.

    Maybe you feel rebuffed by President Obama because he didn’t immediately reach out and ask you for your help and advice. More than likely he never even saw it. I suspect that some staffer read your letter and decided there were more important things to focus on and better job authorities to be consulting. Bottom line as you have stated yourself many times, you are nobody special and you posses no special skills or knowledge. Your experiences are good ones, but millions of Americans have them too. Many of us have enjoyed your show because it reminds us of ourselves seeing those who work hard for what they earn and develop a love for their jobs as terrible as they may sometimes seem.

    But in fact you do have a special skill and that is having that “every man appeal”. You come off extremely well as a “regular guy”. I think, or at least used to think, that is real. You have been blessed with a platform to use your skill and help others in this country realize all the things and all the people who keep the country running are just regular folk too who are doing their best at what they do.

    Unfortunately, you are now taking that skill and exploiting it by standing with a man that has zero respect for these people and their lives. There can be no doubt about this. Here is a man that has sold out thousands of these people just for the sake of his own enrichment. Here is a guy who has personally exported jobs to China and has sold others on the concept because it can be so profitable. I know you are not making an “official endorsement”, but you might as well be.

    President Obama has done nothing but stand up for all these hardworking regular people. He spent a large part of his early political career working hand in hand with these folks trying to help better their lives and becoming fully aware of all that they go through. He has tried very hard to get more people like this working to rebuild the infrastructure of the country only to be flatly rejected by the Republican party. Obama has been very much a promoter of trade schools and helping people get the skills necessary for many of these jobs. He is all about the middle class and lower paid workers making these contributions to the country and our economy.

    Romney on the other hand has a history of destroying the middle class and costing jobs rather than creating them. Romney destroyed good paying “dirty jobs” and the only jobs he can take credit for are very low paying “clean” jobs like retail sales and stocking shelves. Americans selling and moving around foreign made products is no way to build a future for the country. I’m sure that Romney didn’t read your letter either until some staffer saw a way to use it to cozy up to the working class. I’d bet he never saw the show either until they saw an opportunity to use you as a tool to exploit the working class. Think about it, why would he even find your show entertaining? Here’s guy who never had a blister and probably never even got dirt under his fingernails. How could he even relate to it other than maybe thinking that “there’s some people I’d like to fire!”?

    I am a professional but, started as a guy doing dirty jobs. I still work with dirty jobs, but these days the focus is about how to make them easier and safer. My experiences are invaluable and working closely with the people is key. I worked my way up but haven’t forgotten where I came from. A lot of people see me as a role model because hard work and good performance is what got me where I am.

    You always joke about not being particularly smart yourself and maybe you are just making a stupid mistake. Maybe you just don’t have a clue as to what is really going on like many of the hardworking people you are exposed too,simply because they don’t even have the time to stay informed. Then again maybe you are just seeing an opportunity to promote yourself. I hope it’s the former. Romney sees most of the people you’ve worked with as being part of that worthless 47% looking for a handout. He joked about how these people think they should be entitled to health care just because the can’t help themselves. You’ve seen the jobs many of these people do. You can see how these folks put their own health at risk in their jobs and you can see that when they get old they will be paying the price for the work they have done. Romney looks like a young man because he’s never done an honest day’s work in his life. And you look to this guy to help the people you have come to so respect and cherish? Very sad, I thought you were a better person than that.

  447. Wow. Thanks for taking a stand. You’ve certainly aroused the bitterness of the Left. You’ve evidently caused them to feel “left out” as a result of your views and they will now hate you with unmitigated passion. I’ve seen your show from time to time, but never considered myself a fan. I really don’t know how much more I’ll watch it, but when I do, no doubt it will be with great appreciation for what you are doing to turn this awful economy around. God bless you, Mike.

  448. Mike you have sent both my teenage sons letters of congrats for being Eagle Scouts and that’s says you care.I think we should sit back and see that this country can’t support the free giveaways. We need to reinvest in America and manufacturing and making dirty smells and dust. We have become way too restrictive on what business can and can’t do. I make my living and my boys are going into fields where they work with their minds and hands getting dirty. We must understand a college degrees doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is smarter than an individual who works with their minds, hands and heart. I say push back EPA’s reg let some dust dirt and smells happen and lets get this country back to work. Then we can lower or national dept and maybe support some health care for people less fortunate or who have fallen on hardship. Don’t vote party lines we must rebuild our infrastructure and manufacturing base in this country for our children and future generations. That’s what made this country such a force, hard work ,sweat, dust, dirt and determination. Thanks Mike for caring.

  449. Mike, appreciate what you are trying to do for manufacturing in this country as a 30+ employee of CAT. Just wish I could see you at an Obama rally as I did last week in Bedford Heights, Ohio (Cleveland) Romney Ralley.

    Would love to collaborate with you based on my experiences recruiting young engineers for manufacturing jobs in the country. Often it’s the parents warning of “dirty jobs.”

    Best regards,

    Ed/San Diego

  450. The point some of you are missing because of the same arrogance that has been displayed by the President and is shared by msnbc and most Obama supporters is that mike rowe has a HUGE following. Every vote counts! I’m sure you guys will find some way to blame this and all the rest of your incompetence on Bush lol

  451. Thank you for caring. Did you get a response from Romney? Obama doesn’t care to respond-It would cut into his campaign time. Thank God there are people out there like you.Your show is great. Keep up the good work. Hope you vote for Romeny!

  452. I love your show. My dad his dad worked for the railroads, and my maternal grandpa was a tool and die maker. My grandma worked in a school cafeteria for almost 60 years, hardly glamorous or high paying, but extremely vital for the kids.

    I vote Democrat, but I will say that I agree with everything you said in both letters. I do think it bad form that the President never responded, and it will be equally bad form if Mr. Romney doesn’t.

    This country has lost so much respect for the actual hard work needed to give us all everything we need. That’s the root cause of a lot of problems, including the whole “They’re taking our jobs!” issue. Someone figured out that most Americans turn their noses up at construction, meat processing, etc., but immigrants would do them at a far lower pay rate, and there you go. It’s honest work, but we as a country decided we were better than that, as you point out.

  453. Mr. Rowe,

    Thanks for the interesting article that you have written. Yes, we Americans have found the possibility of ignoring all things that make us comfortable. We as Americans should be ashamed of ourselves and the responsibility that we let foreigners take care of our basic needs. I hope that you message will reach many more people throughout this country and wake up the minds of the simple American man or woman. So sorry to learn that your show has been cancelled, but I wonder ” were Americans to lazy to flip the channel or were they looking for the remote control?”

  454. Mr. Rowe,

    I am sending this to you with the same request you ask of Gov. Romney and President Obama by asking them to contact you. I have sent you an email requesting a conversation with you by phone or email. I would prefer the old fashion way of talking in person via phone. My company has a lot to offer the world and I would realy like to see what you think about it. I am very passionate about job creation, which my company will have to have tens of thousands of employees, life and property saving products and plastic pollution that my company provides. This could be the dirtiest job you have ever seen and could be the most meaningful dirty job you have ever seen!

    I hope to hear from you soon..



  455. Hello again Mr. Rowe,

    I posted a comment on this “Sound Off!” board and I would like to thank you for your deep concerns about America and what you are offering as help for America and Americans. I too, am very deeply concerned about job creation, plastic pollution and other things that are in need of in Americas infrastructure.

    I am a member of mikeroweWORKS and I have sent a request for you to contact me to discuss what my company has to offer. I am leaving my office number, cell number and email address in this post. I hope to hear from you soon and if we all can work together we came provide some solutions to today’s problems America faces.

    Michael V. Moses


    MVM Research and Development Group, Inc.

  456. I hardly leave a response, however I did a
    few searching and wound up here The First Four
    Years Are The Hardest

  457. Mr. Rowe’s letter is brilliant and hit the nail on the head. Of course,
    This is not the direction of BO. Hope Mr. Rowe will consider becoming
    A political leader. Than again, that job may be ‘too dirty’…..

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  460. Good Morning Mike,

    I saw you on Fox News this morning. I wanted to look at your website regarding work disconnect but I can’t remember the website. Can you send it to me please?

    Also, I enjoyed the picture you shared about diplomas vs skilled labor. You are so right. I see the problem everyday. People who are highly skilled but without diplomas are withering away. They are made to feel inferior to people with academic skills. Many peopls with diplomas have student loans but aren’t working. They have incurred student loan debts can’t find jobs. Now they are plagued with escalating interest plus the student loan itself, can’t get a job, and cannot pay their debts.

    I would like to read more from the work disconnect website. You are well respected. I am so happy you are helping people find jobs. It was nice to hear Catapillar has jobs in Las Vegas but sad their aren’t people to fill those skilled operator positions.


  461. The educational system in the US assumes ALL students are college material and want to go to college. The curricula is college prep with funding for vocational education being cut because it is too expensive to update equipment used for auto tech, catering, beauty school, etc. With the influx of illegal immigrants, the construction trades have been essentially taken over forcing students to compete with illegals for those jobs they once traditionally and proudly accepted and held. Whereby once basic math was offered, it has been replaced by an algebra requirement; gone are the fundamental skills classes teaching budgeting, tax preparation, checkbook balancing. The basic requirements include foreign language, 4 years of English, 3 years of social studies, 3 of science, etc. So is it any surprise there are no students who come out of high school prepared for the blue collar jobs? It becomes a disgrace IF a student chooses NOT to go to college. Teachers are not responsible for the agricultural schedule of schools! This country no longer needs kids in the fields planting and harvesting. Yet, talk of year around schools and listen to the parents squawk and complain. Until the wigs in DC decide to change the philosophy regarding the value of “worker bees” as opposed to pushing everyone to go to college, I see little change. Good luck Mike!

  462. How useful was college?

    (This drew a letter of agreement from Martin Anderson, author of IMPOSTERS IN THE TEMPLE.)

    In a nation that venerates education, getting a college degree is seen as the ultimate goal, but is it? I’ve looked at what it did for me and my peers. We were ‘establishment’ types who were graduated from private and public colleges in ’63. Here are the results. (Keep in mind the difference professors and books can make.)

    Astronomy- waste. Biology – terrible. Economics – could have been terrific. Education courses – infamous. English – essential when practical. Geography – delightful. Government – could have been good. History – good, but left out non-western cultures. International relations – good. A foreign language – probably useless for most. Literature – could have been good if we’d had authors like Jack London and Ernie Pyle. Logic – waste. Philosophy – waste. Psychology – should have been practical. Sociology – laughable. Speech – no impact.

    We had nothing on resume writing, job hunting, managing money, traditional values, human nature, corruption, politics, military life, religious scandals, the gay world, prejudice, social classes, the fallibilities of professionals, and how to read the media.
    We had nothing on maturity in relation to: friendship, courting, sex, vice, crime, religion, cults, idealism, politics, parenting, liberalism, and conservatism.

    Did college make me and my peers:
    – Better citizens? ————————- Slightly
    – More cultured? ————————- Slightly
    – Aware of various fields? ————- Too theoretically
    – More employable? ——————– Not for the effort involved
    – Ready for graduate school? ——— If one needs four years
    – Ready for the real world? ———– No
    – More mature? ————————— Not like the real world would have
    – Aware of our creativity? ————– Hardly

    Was college worth what it cost us, our parents and the taxpayers? ———- No.
    After college, we kept few textbooks and never reviewed our notes. We were verbose. Some took jobs requiring no degree. Some went back to school to learn to type. Some sought career counseling as they had been in the wrong field.

    Presently many are smart, but not intellectual, and are more subjective and prejudiced than they’d like to think. All are reluctant to consider that half of what we studied we never used, nor even heard of since college.

    Many of the girls went to college to find a husband and never used their degrees.

    We were conditioned to be liberal. One professor said as we got older, we would get more conservative. Prophetic, but not explained.

    My degree didn’t help in teaching and writing. In social work, politics, and mental health, it was often a hindrance, as it’s ‘liberal’ bent was far off the mark and it didn’t make me ‘streetwise.’ I’m glad I didn’t go to graduate school in those fields.

    My real education was: career counseling, living in slums and in New York City, serving in the domestic version of the Peace Corps, running a home for mental patients, renting rooms in my house, being self-employed, the fallible media, and life itself. As it turned out, I had to unlearn much of what college and the media had taught me. Hence my interest in noted author Ray Bradbury’s saying he was ‘one of the few lucky enough not to go to college.’ (Famed Russian author Solzhenitsyn said his ‘education’ was being a prisoner in Siberia.)

    College consists of missing information, useful information, useless information, and misinformation. Those who didn’t finish didn’t miss as much as they’re led to believe.

    The useful parts were: – Vocabulary and concepts. – Learning to think, speak and write objectively and critically. – Exposing myths. – Independent study. – Writing papers on favorite subjects. – Exchange student programs (tops). – Student government, Model United Nations, and special interest clubs.

    College should retain these, but require achievement in: 1) Traditional values, 2) Mental health, 3) Physical health, 4) Career counseling, 5) Internships, and
    6) Practical courses. Students could be tested and given credit for achievements in outside activities that fit these categories. If this was done, more families would get their students into such activities. Everyone would gain – students, parents, professors, colleges and society.

    Al Garner

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