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Higher Ed Reform
Rubio Talks Up Vocational Education

With the media understandably focused on Marco Rubio’s devastating exchange with Jeb Bush over his Senate attendance record, the Florida Senator’s policy ideas aren’t getting that much play in the post-debate press. But one of his debate comments on education policy deserves to be generating more conversation (and likely will, if Rubio can consolidate his status as the party’s likely nominee):

We need to get back to training people in this country to do the jobs of the 21st century. Why, for the life of me, I do not understand why did we stop doing vocational education in America, people that can work with their hands; people you can train to do this work while they’re still in high school so they can graduate ready to go work. But the best way to close this gap is to modernize higher education so Americans have the skills for those jobs.

With college debt rising to unsustainable levels, and with a growing number of graduates of expensive colleges unable to find well-paying jobs, it’s critical that policymakers start experimenting with new ways to equip students with the skills and knowledge they need at a lower cost. An increased focus on vocational education should clearly be part of the mix—the four year-long liberal arts education isn’t for everyone, and data show that countries whose education systems emphasize practicable skills have lower unemployment rates.

That said, the United States probably can’t adopt a full-fledged German-style apprenticeship program. America has a high degree of labor mobility, and our educational system should give students a breadth of skills so that they have the flexibility to move from one company to another. And for all the failings of unaffordable four-year universities with bloated bureaucracies, it’s important that we don’t give up on liberal arts programs, which can go a long way toward fostering critical thinking and creativity in students with specific goals and aptitudes.

Rubio isn’t the only politician emphasizing vocational education; Hillary Clinton also said last year that the country should “get back to really respecting vocational and technical work.” It’s encouraging to see leading politicians start to rethink a failing educational system. Let’s hope that some of this rhetoric can be translated into intelligent policy changes that maximize students’ leeway to choose the path that is right for them.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Whilst I agree that we should not give up (completely) on liberal arts, and the humanities in general, we should invest in them appropriately, The sad truth is that there are far more graduates in those disciplines than there is work for. We live in an era of increasingly limited resources (exemplified by the fact that one out of four dollars of government expenditure is borrowed). This problem is only going to get worse as the population ages, and we need to start spending our limited resources much more intelligently.The truth is that the demand for graduate-level skills is declining whilst (as TAI as shrewdly pointed out in the past) that for trade skills is increasing.

    • Jim__L

      Read Plutarch’s Lives. Ask yourself, “Would I like to work for this person? With this person? Would I like this person working for me? Did this person do anything particularly smart I should emulate? Particularly stupid, I should avoid?”

      It’s a good way to start thinking about virtues. Which virtues you should have for yourself, which you should honor in others, etc.

      Judgement is another word for “critical thinking”. If you eschew the first, you can’t have the second. This is what Liberal Arts are *for*.

      I think that every university should have a Liberal Arts program — in fact, it would not be inappropriate to require every student to pick a Liberal (or Fine) Art to minor in. However, universities should offer very few seats to pure Liberal Arts majors. There just isn’t much need, and if you make students take a practical major, they’ll probably thank you later in life.

  • lukelea

    Rather than modernizing higher education it might make more sense to modernize our high schools and middle schools, where vocational education should rightly begin.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Spot on!
      We have this cargo-cult obsession with higher education, and it is utterly unproductive and in general a waste. Rather than ‘college for everyone’, why not look more toward college for 2-3%, and a decent education for everyone?

      • FriendlyGoat

        With “decent” incomes flowing from “decent” educations, no doubt.

        • f1b0nacc1

          Do you really believe that the only way to get a decent income is from a higher-ed approved education? Doesn’t that tell you something about the nature of the ‘credentials-centric’ model we are working from? The notion that someone only a university degree is going to give you a ticket into the middle class is both mistaken, and destructive, as it causes us to divert resources into utterly unproductive venues.
          There is not an infinite demand for Grievance Studies majors, and no amount of funding is going to change that. We have a huge number of graduates with worthless degrees and gigantic debts, but no real skills useful for the marketplace. That is a crime against an entire generation, though just fine for the tenured layabouts and administrators in the university systems.
          Reduce the number of university degrees, get rid of Duke v. Griggs, and move away from credentials and towards a skill-centric system of employment, and you will benefit those folks you weep crocodile tears for. We have a huge number of good jobs that go begging because we don’t have people to fill them, and we pigeon-hole people into dead end time-serving because we are pretending that universities are a magic answer that they are not.
          If you are really serious about dealing with the problem of the decline of the middle class and the plight of the poor, then offer a real solution for the problem. Lukelea (who I was responding to) offered an excellent one. If we cut higher education spending by 95% (a useful start) the resources freed up would be more than sufficient to massively recapitalize and reform our K-12 schools system and provide a real education for every American, with no real impact on the rest of our economy outside of a few hothouse academics. What is YOUR alternative?

          • FriendlyGoat

            The reason I made the comment is that we might consider good high school a “decent education”—-perhaps especially with some vocational training. But the problem is that the incomes of these people with a “decent” education are falling. I’m not suggesting we try to over-educate everyone for jobs that do not exist for “everyone”. I was bemoaning that we are not pursuing policies which cause the people with mere “decent” educations to be able to actually support their families.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Actually we don’t disagree on this (miracles DO happen you know!), though I rather doubt we would agree upon the policies to put into place to help the situation improve.
            Let me start with a caveat…skilled workers are not facing declining incomes in any significant way. Plumbers, electricians, etc. are doing very well, you can easily spend more on a good auto mechanic than you would on a doctor’s visit. Those who ARE suffering are those who have depended upon on artificial restrictions on the marketplace (cab drivers, for example, but we could point to lawyers as well) through licensing, unions, etc., and are seeing those market distortions undermined. Semi- and unskilled workers are facing a bigger problem, as there is simply a declining need for their services, and this is not likely to change.
            We can provide opportunities for these people to become more mobile, to acquire new skills (NOT credentials…encouraging unemployed auto-workers to sleep through some community college classes is both insulting to them and worse than useless), and even become entrepenaurial, but most important, we must allow them to fail. That means not propping up zombie businesses that are politically connected, or unions that have long since outlived their usefulness, or licensing that serves no useful purpose other than to discourage new market entries. Those that refuse to learn skills and become productive should not be indulged, and the idea that they are ‘entitled’ to anything more than the most minimal necessities of life is a fantasy that must be abandoned. Vocational training (whether it is computers or welding) should be strongly supported, though the providers of this training should be held accountable for results.
            Finally, it is time to allow the population to choose how it wishes to make its future. For those who don’t wish to avail themselves of an education (and I don’t believe that this offer should ever be withdrawn), there should be nothing beyond the most bare-bones safety net. Obviously there are some who cannot avail themselves, and they should be treated as wards of the state, but in the case of those who are capable, but not inclined to do so….they should receive only enough support to prevent their starvation and death by exposure. Given that choice, I believe that many of those who destroy our schools (for instance) might make a very different set of choices than they do at this time. In the same way, we should ruthlessly attack discrimination (real discrimination, not trigger warnings) and anything else that prevents our fellow citizens from fully participating in society.
            Finally, we must lean towards the entrepreneur as an ideal to emulate. Small businessmen, professionals, etc. are to be admired, not despised or treated as cows to be milked for the welfare state. Punishing the productive to support the unproductive only means we will have fewer of the former, and more of the latter. We can reform our educational system to inculcate skills, and move away from credentials. Any idiot can buy a credential (see the Kennedys for an excellent example), but skills require work and talent.

          • FriendlyGoat

            More than you might imagine, I would like for the “miracle” of our agreement to occasionally happen. Without getting off too far in the left/right philosophies, I really don’t understand what good thing happens if we have a LOT of people in the semi-skilled or unskilled positions of food service, store clerking, hotel room maintenance, landscaping, janitorial, warehouse, pothole filling, repetitive factory jobs, farm hands and all the similar things if their families financial “ends just don’t meet.”

            I know there is the argument that some of these jobs are temporary way stations and people pass through them on the way to other things in life, but increasingly, as you know, there are fewer “other things” for many people to be going to. If we have large segments of the population that cannot function in any family way without EITC, SNAP, ACA, subsidized housing and other things now in place for the WORKING poor, how do we reduce those subsidies and have the society we know. You can’t have a decent country with more and more homeless people on the streets. You can’t sensibly run health care if large numbers of the patients have no way to pay. You can’t run anything but hell-hole schools if too many of the kids are living in poverty at home. You can’t reduce incarceration if too many people—-men especially—- are frustrated for life.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Once again, we largely agree about the extremely grim future facing most (all?) in the un/semi-skilled segment of the economy. I see no happy ending there, as a combination of overseas competition and automation will inexorably grind them into dust. That is not a happy thing for me to say (and I am NOT saying “let them eat cake”, I truly grieve at this prospect), but I do not pretend that it can be changed. What CAN be changed, however, is to give those who are willing to do so, an opportunity to escape the skills trap, and find more useful (and less vulnerable) employment outside of that trap. We can reform our education system, we can identify more effective avenues of employment, we can discourage dead-end pursuits, but to do that we also have to accept that some failures are going to happen and use them as object lessons for the rest of us. This is what Polanyi called ‘creative destruction’, and since it is inevitable, we had best make good use of it. We are never going to get the percentage of destroyed lives to 0%, but perhaps we can keep it under 10%? It isn’t a happy thing, but perhaps a necessary one…
            Lets stop propping up failed businesses and failed social models, encourage entrepreneurs and new experiments. Accept that we cannot encourage risk taking if we subsidize stasis, that social mobility requires, no DEMANDS the ability to fail as well as welcoming success. Remember that most of those dreaded 1% we are supposed to hate are sole-proprietorship businesses and professionals, not hedge funders and dot-com millionaires. Governments cannot create wealth, they only redistribute poverty, and badly at that. If you want to preserve the (entirely desirable) middle class you need a healthy upper class to fund the process…
            Dignity doesn’t come from above, it comes from within, and if you want more of it, you can provide only opportunities, not results…I share your concerns for the future of many of our fellow citizens, but if they are to be nothing more than wards of the state, that is a dark future indeed.

          • FriendlyGoat

            You won’t get any argument from me against “creative destruction.”
            I do understand the old saw about buggy whip makers and there are thousands of examples of that. But as long as society actually does rely on people working in the services of our food, our hospitality, and the maintenance of all our physical assets which we all ARE USING, it is only poor social choices and poor politics which could cause us to relegate all their futures to the word “grim”. This is why I’m a liberal. We do not HAVE TO ignore the needs of a large segment of people who are actually doing the work upon which the richer half relies. Elections matter. The lower half has no other mechanism to avoid being screwed over—-which is increasingly their plight.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Nobody is suggesting ignoring the needs of anyone. Reread what I said, I pointed out that leaving people in job categories that are unproductive and under pressure from globalization and automation (and if you try to stop one, you will get the other) is the real abandonment, and that if we want to help those people (as we should) we are best advised to help them escape those dead ends. Fast food workers are not going to EVER be worth $15/hr, and no amount of hectoring will change that. We can either help those people escape those jobs or the jobs will escape them as they are automated out of existence. The same thing can be said for almost all of these other positions.
            Propping up zombie businesses, corrupt unions, etc. or ignoring the inevitable march of economic evolution is the real crime, as it ignores peoples needs in the interest of ideological commitments. The ‘lower half’ (your phrase, not mine, though I won’t quibble…) cannot simply be palliated with social and economic diktats from above, they must be offered a road upward…let a rising tide lift all boats. doing away with the various gatekeeper tactics and barriers to entry employed in the blue model (university credentialism is a good example, though there are many, many others) is a vital step.
            You and I often argue because you tend to paint the motives of those on the right in the worst possible light, and I resent this. Nobody suggests ignoring our fellow citizens, but there is a reasonable basis for alternatives to the blunt instrument of government decrees to cope with the troubles of our less fortunate citizens. We may disagree about the means, but largely we agree with the ends. You might want to read the story of King Canute…he had the right answer to those who thought that they could prevent the inevitable by decree….

          • FriendlyGoat

            I would not “paint” your motives or those of any other conservatives in a negative light if I did not always seem to find a considerable distance between conservatives’ prescriptions and how they play out in people’s lives.

            As for there being a “lower half” in America, such a thing always exists. We could find the midpoints of either net worth or annual earnings and look north and south of those to make the half-half headcounts which would define those categories above and below a median. I believe both halves should have their defining dollar amounts increasing at equal rates of growth—–AND—that we should adjust our politics until that happens.

            OF COURSE there will always be rich people and poor people. That is natural and okay, but the systemic failure of the rising tide of the past four decades to actually lift both big “boats” (the two halves) at equal rates is really nothing but political failure.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Without entering into an endless back-and-forth on this, you have been presented by numerous folks on this blog (including myself) with a panoply of conservative options to cope with any number of issues, and you have consistently ignored them and claimed that you weren’t being presented with any policies. Do conservative proposals sometimes come up short? Absolutely, and that is a fair thing to take into account. But the almost uninterrupted record of failure with leftist policy prescriptions is considerably more off-putting, and you tend to ignore that.
            A good example of where we differ is your comment in the second paragraph of your last comment. To be able to ‘adjust our politics until that happens’ (i.e. until growth rates of income/net worth/whathaveyou are equalized) is not only impossible on its face, it is undesirable even if possible. Do you honestly believe that government bureaucrats can simply twist some policy dials and manipulate the economy? Has this EVER worked? Even if it did work, would you really want to hand such power over to the government? The Left has always indulged in the somewhat infantile conceit that it is smart enough and capable enough to control such fantastically complicated phenomena as the economy, and that (moreover) it could be trusted to do so. The consistent record of failure, tyranny, and suffering that follows allowing such power to come into the hands of such ideologues (from Russia to Venezuela, from the Paris Commune to Occupy Wall Street) really should put this sort of silliness to rest.
            As for the differential rates of growth, there is little reason to believe that this is simply a correction from the rather anomalous results of the two world wars, along with the natural (and in some ways sadly normal and expected) impact of technological growth and its impact on the value skilled vs unskilled labor. As a side matter, if we look only at the US (which also has experimented with a policy of encouraging mass immigration from a third world country, further depressing low-skilled wages) we tend to get a distorted view of what is going on world wide. After all, the rich West is doing well, but virtually every continent other than Africa (a special case for many reasons) has done even better. So the suggestion that this is ‘nothing but political failure’ is an assertion unproven and likely incorrect.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Yes, I do believe that government policy can affect the economy, particularly with respect to individuals’ lives, and I understand that the economy is a “big ship” which turns slowly.

            With a parade of high-end tax cuts since 1978, we have steered the ship toward a widening of the wealth divide between the upper half and the lower half. Thirty-seven years of increasingly doing the wrong thing has left the lower half in a growing mess and it should not have happened. It will take a long time to fix the damage.

            It is not acceptable in this country or any other for the value of unskilled labor to just “fall” while we see the kinds of financial asset inflation we have seen over decades with virtually all gains accruing to the shareholder class. I know it never does me any good to tell you this does not make any sense, but I am telling you that anyway.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Government policy can certainly affect the economy…it can damage it. When the government leaves things alone, that is a different matter entirely. As far as the economy being a ‘big ship that turns slowly’, what possible relevance does this have to the topic at hand?
            Your standard obsession with high-end tax cuts (did a rich person run over your dog?…seriously…) is a charmingly fact free assertion, but you have never provided any fact-based chain of events to support this argument. No, coincidental associations (correlation) doesn’t count….an explanation of causation with some actual data might be convincing. You fixate on a single variable (tax rates) ignoring virtually every other government policy during this period (immigration, regulation, demographics, etc.), and seem to pretend that none of these could possibly have any impact.
            As far as the value of unskilled labor, it isn’t an option for this country (or any other) to stop its fall. Technology and infrastructure have led to this the same way that they provided the basis for eliminating slavery 150 years ago. Unskilled and semi-skilled labor isn’t going to recover value because it simply doesn’t produce any, and while I don’t have any great joy over that (those are real people whose labor is losing value), the best we can hope for is to help them find a way to escape the sinking ship that they are in, not to pretend that we can make it float by decree.
            As for financial asset inflation, ironically it is too much state intervention that facilitates this, not too little. Banks, for instance, consolidate because of overly complex banking regulations that encourage such consolidation. In a truly open market, large accumulations of capital become targets for predators, in a crony system, they develop defenses based upon the state. Take a look at how asset inflation worked in most communist countries, and the neo-socialist mess that is Venezuela today. For that matter, you might want to examine how the Chinese (in fact most of the state-heavy economies in Asia, including Japan) have made a mess with too much regulation supporting the inflation of bubbles.
            As far as something ‘not making any sense’, that seems to be goatspeak for ‘I really don’t like this outcome’….guess what, I am not fond of some of these outcomes either, but adults learn that things we don’t like, often make a heck of a lot of sense. If you want to alter the outcomes, you first must understand the dynamics of the systems that you are examining, not just pretend that you can change them by fiat.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Flb, we’re back to the same problem we always have. You devolve to insults and then say absolutely CRAZY things—-insisting I believe them. The ideas that you feel sorry for the people whose unskilled labor MUST, according to you, fall in value and that unskilled and semi-skilled labor does not produce any value are both pure Bullsh*t. Yes, your economic talk is Bullsh*t and so are your motives. Sorry I have to say it again but your obnoxious preaching at me has its limits. You have hit them again.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Assertions without evidence again. Your economic theory seems to be that you can demand something will have value, merely because you want it to be so. Sad to say, the tides will come in whether or not you like it, and if you truly care about those you shed crocodile tears for, you would be best advised to find a way to help them besides denying reality. Unskilled and semi-skilled labor does not produce NO value, but it produces less value over time as technology and trade displace it. A farmer pulling a plow was displaced by draft animals, who were in turn displaced by tractors….is this so very difficult to understand? Factories which once requires hundreds, or even thousands of workers produce the same (or more) with a few dozen or less. There will always be a few exceptions, but those exceptions are just that…and they are growing rarer over time.
            If you disagree, provide some argument, some facts….but if the best you can do is to insult motives and rage in impotent frustration, that is your problem, not mine. The lot of the poor isn’t going to be improved by pretending (and make no mistake, what you are doing is pretending) that the clock can be turned back or that a convenient boogey-man can be found to take the blame.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Here are six occupations which are very poorly paid, which are not really “unskilled”, on which MANY much richer people depend and which are not being displaced by technology. They are Certified Nursing Assistant, Child Care Provider, Emergency Medical Technician, Automotive Service Technician, Income Tax Preparer and those working in Recreational Protective Services.

            http://smallbusiness.chron.com/list-minimum-wage-jobs-2571.html

            There is nothing about either these occupations or the people working in them that is stupid, unnecessary or indicative of poor ambition in the people doing the work. They are poorly paid because we inadequately tax the incomes of the people making money off of them and because we have neglected to require sensible minimum wages by legally equating the output of these people to those who might be picking up trash in a park. Many countries have minimum wage ideas which are not “one size fits all” and we should too, along with having very low minimums for teenagers and higher minimums for adults. The present problem for low-wage workers of many kinds is just political failure—–as I already told you. Now you are looking at the “facts” you require.

          • f1b0nacc1

            You concede that these positions are not ‘unskilled’, and then you use them to dispute my point about unskilled labor? Rather bizarre, don’t you think? The notion that an EMT, for instance, isn’t highly skilled (trained, professional, etc.) says a great deal about how you define skills…
            Now, we pay these people poorly (and who is ‘we’?…most of these people are paid by other people, not by some omniscient, omnipresent ‘we’) because we don’t tax others enough? Why would a McDonald’s, for instance, pay its servers more if they were taxed more heavily? Why would a Child Care Provider (the overwhelming majority of whom a privately employed) be paid more if marginal taxes on the wealthy were higher? What is the mechanism at work here? We pay child care workers a pittance, for instance, because there are a great many of them available at the price point offered. Like it or not, most consumers of these services (parents) simply do not (for any number of reasons, some good, some less so) wish to pay more for those services, and there are sufficient individuals willing to do the work at that price. You may not approve of this (quite frankly, I think it is regrettable in this case myself, but it is not for me to decide, nor for you), but if child care providers did not wish to perform their work at the price offered, they would not, and consumers would either pay more or go without. This is microeconomics 101, and doesn’t require higher marginal tax rates to work. This is the same reason that water is priceless in the desert and worthless in the middle of a lake…supply and demand.
            Ah, but now you want to introduce ‘sensible minimum wages’,….who creates those? just how do we set those values? Do we reward work that some bureaucrat deems useful? Or do we hold referendums on the subject. Have you considered that allowing prices to be set by the state has been tried before? The results are on display in Venezuela, Cuba, and any number of Third World pestholes. And once again, how are marginal tax rates even remotely involved in this?
            Finally, you ignore the consequences of the ‘sensible minimum wages’. If we artificially set wages too high, why would a business (which is after all, in the pursuit of profitability) pay those wages? Do you honestly believe that if ‘we’ decided that any of those jobs you list above were to be paid, say $20/hr (just as an example, pick your own number) that we might not see businesses start investigating other options to reduce their labor demands? If you do NOT believe this, how can you explain the large capital investments that those very businesses have been making to do just that? The first automated teller machines in the 1970s were a response to the increased cost of bank tellers, and in a similar fashion, we are seeing aggressive moves by fast food restaurants to eliminate workers through automation. Do you expect to ban automation? Or perhaps you would just choose to throw shoes into the looms?
            Interestingly enough, I completely agree with your suggestion that we consider a ‘subminimum wage’ for teenagers (there is that stopped clock again!), but it won’t accomplish a great deal. After all, we are aggressively importing immigrants who will work even more cheaply than that, which seriously depresses wages for the low-skilled and unskilled beyond anything teenagers do. As a side point, the very unions that you so ardently defend are vehemently opposed to such subminimum wages, as well they would be, since it reduces their own bargaining leverage. Fact is that the political failure you are referring to here is on the Left, not the Right.
            You provided no facts, just a list of jobs that aren’t paid well. You even conceded that most of those jobs were NOT unskilled (though some of the job titles were quite amusing!), which weakened your argument still further. Nothing you have described would help the middle class (in fact it would do a great deal of damage by destroying the profitability of many small businesses which are the largest employers of low-end labor) in anything but the shortest of short terms.
            Come now, you can surely do better than this…

          • FriendlyGoat

            Your point (more like a desire, really) that unskilled labor should be very poorly paid does not support the market effect of similar poor pay for the six occupations I just highlighted. My theory of political failure is actually a far better explanation for why your average starting EMT is not compensated in a manner that supports a family.

            As for child care workers, we do not have an over-supply of them. We rather have a shortage of other more-promising jobs for people now caring for children on the cheap. In any event, there is a huge political problem if the owners of temp agencies are making significantly more than the workers actually in hands-on contact with the children. The answer to that—-along with nearly everything else—is moderate taxation on owners of temp agencies making moderate income and HIGH taxation of owners making HIGH income from hiring temps on the cheap.

            We are not so inept as a society that all of us together cannot calculate reasonable minimum wages by both age and job types.
            The problem is organized opposition from the Chamber of Commerce types to any such effort. That is the singular problem, not that calculation is “too hard” for us.

            As for being amused by the job titles, I don’t laugh at the young men and women who have changed the oil in my cars. Neither would I laugh at a pool lifeguard, a ski patrol worker or even an employee of H&R Block. I don’t know why you have to mention how amused you are—-or, then again, maybe I do.

          • f1b0nacc1

            A desire that unskilled labor be paid poorly? Indifference perhaps….if they provide a service that attracts a willing buy, of course…they should be paid what the buyer wishes to pay and what they agree to. If those two conditions are met, I cannot imagine what business It is of mine to dispute it. The occupations you cited are poorly paid because they do not provide sufficient value for individuals willing to pay more for them, what could be simpler? There is no entitlement to an income in any profession, much less a demand that they are compensated in a manner that supports a family. That sounds nice in principle, but someone has to pay for it. Do you volunteer?
            Your discussion of child-care workers is bother economically illiterate (no real surprise there, I confess), but to suggest that it is the result of a shortage of more promising jobs reveals a startling, even for you, lack of insight and self awareness. Just what is stopping the creation of these ‘more promising’ jobs? After all, you posit that there is a vast pool of wiling labor….surely these jobs will spring into being like Athena from the head of Zeus? Perhaps the systematic discouragement of job creators in your next two sentences might have something to do with this? Those businessmen who create jobs and wealth (and take substantial risks in doing so) aren’t going to continue to do so if you decide to confiscate their profits in order to pay workers more than they believe they have to. If those workers don’t believe they are being compensated fairly, they merely need to stop taking jobs….that is how free markets work, and it is in fact easily observed when one looks at how skilled workers set salaries. Sadly those with limited skills have limited options, which is precisely why we want to improve their situation with more skills, not simply cosset them at our sufferance.
            Do you honestly believe that punishing (and lets be honest, the tone of your suggestion regarding taxation of temp owners and employers makes it clear that this is your intent) those who employ temps and facilitate their hiring is going to make things better for those workers? You seem more fixated on punishing your ideological enemies than actually helping anyone. Make hiring temps and directing those temps to willing employers expensive and you will discourage the process. You won’t create more jobs (and by the way, unskilled and semi-skilled laborers are far less likely to be temps, typically that is a skilled worker route to income), you will only encourage those potential employers to find new and more creative ways to reduce their need for labor. If the last 100 years shows anything at all, it shows that.
            And of course…we will as a society calculate reasonable wages! How has that worked out anywhere else in the world that it has been tried? If you set the price of labor too high, people consume less of it, and it doesn’t matter how much ‘society’ thinks otherwise. If you set it too low, you get labor shortages as workers don’t choose to accept the low price. Once again….look at the world around you and you see this all the time. Pretending that sufficient political will can change that is nonsense. Once you start setting wages, you provide an immediate temptation for regulatory capture both by businesses and labor organizations, which would undermine your whole plan even if it were possible to come up with some utopian system.
            The job titles are funny, not the jobs….and most of the men and women (young and otherwise) in those fields find them funny as well, if you care to talk with them and not patronize them with your pity. A lifeguard being referred to in such exalted terms knows he is being conned, and the guy who changes my oil (funny, I just had that done today) knows what he does without being given a title to disguise it. These are PEOPLE not children you can buy off with words and empty promises…
            You are right, you are not amusing, merely pathetic….perhaps you cannot do better after all?

          • FriendlyGoat

            Once again, you have expended about 500 words or more to reinforce my understanding of why I am a liberal and why you’re not. We knew these things about each other probably a year ago.

            As for an oil change worker who would laugh at being called an Automotive Service Technician, dear Lord, please help me keep my cars far away from such a person. The careful ones love a respectable title and they love their pictures on the walls as having completed certain training courses, even those sponsored by no greater an auto “society” than Walmart. If they were given training pins, as was the custom for years for employees at Outback Steakhouse, they would wear them just as the Outbackers did.

          • Anthony
          • f1b0nacc1

            Given Greenberg’s long history as a Democratic pollster, this isn’t exactly a surprise opinion, is it?

          • Anthony

            Information can be impartial and let’s end it there. Thanks.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Actually in some cases yes, they do take great (and often) deserved pride in what they have accomplished, but titles aren’t about that…they are the adult equivalent of ‘participation trophies’ that we insult children with just for showing up. There is a huge difference between calling a janitor a ‘maintenance engineer’, and acknowledging that same janitor’s achievement in completing a training program. The former is condescension, the latter is recognition…

          • FriendlyGoat

            Except that none of the job titles brought up to us by the link I gave you to the Houston Chronicle called a janitor an engineer or any such silly thing.

          • f1b0nacc1

            “Recreational Protective Services” for lifeguards?
            “Automotive Service Technicians” for mechanics?
            Lets be honest, these are patronizing and condescending at best. I am NOT accusing you of making these up, I saw them in the article too….I merely cite them as examples of our deteriorating culture of ‘participation trophies’

  • Jim__L

    Vocational programs were abandoned at my high school as being too expensive.

    I wonder though, at this point how do those programs compare in costs to modern full-on College Resorts?

    Junior colleges still have budget headaches when it comes to supporting nursing programs, but those JC’s are supposed to be at the low end of the price range.

    • J K Brown

      Depends on whether those programs are job-specific training programs or vocational training that emphasizes teaching tool skills and basic mechanics, electricity, etc. The problem is when people promote vocational education, they tend to be thinking mindless job-specific training rather than teaching all students generalized tool skills and basic facts that would prepare them to do well in job training or if they go more academic, to do household repairs and hobbies.

      In the light of this analysis Carlyle’s rhapsody on tools becomes a prosaic fact, and his conclusion—that man without tools is nothing, with tools all—points the way to the discovery of the philosopher’s stone in education. For if man without tools is nothing, to be unable to use tools is to be destitute of power; and if with tools he is all, to be able to use tools is to be all-powerful. And this power in the concrete, the power to do some useful thing for man—this is the last analysis of educational truth.
      —Charles H. Ham, Mind and Hand: manual training, the chief factor in education (1900)

  • J K Brown

    The passionate endeavors to eliminate the classical studies from the curriculum of the liberal education and thus virtually to destroy its very character were one of the major manifestations of the revival of the servile ideology.
    —Mises, Ludwig von, The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality, 1956

    Does anyone really believe the liberal education has improved since Mises wrote that? Or has it moved further to revive the servile (anti-(classical liberalism) ideology? Let use look at the cattle graduating from our finest liberal arts indoctrination centers…

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