He claims not to be an expert on anything, but when he talks about the downgrading of vocational education, I think he nails it. That’s why Rowe will have a definite spiritual place in any home-schooling curriculum I personally design. My home-schooling ring will tour factories, visit with plumbers/welders/electricians/etc., and stay connected to local employers because I want my kids and their friends to recognize the societal value of “dirty” jobs. No snobbery will be allowed in my house!
Here’s some more awesome commentary from Mike Rowe. This time, he uses his experiences shooting a rather infamous episode of Dirty Jobs (involving lamb castration) to segue into a discussion of how our popular culture is systematically denigrating vocational work:
Rowe’s message really resonates with me because I know my family heritage. Dad does “brain work,” but his dad before him rose from poverty into the middle class through hard, dirty, physical labor. Indeed, it was Pop-pop (with a little help from his children) who built Dad’s family homestead in Blue Bell, PA. Did Pop-pop ever try to “follow his passion”? Somehow, I doubt it. I think he just had the character necessary to recognize what needed doing in his local community. And while his son is now a “white collar” professional and relatively affluent, Dad has still absorbed the lesson that is his father’s life. That’s why he’s always emphasized to us the importance of having a job – any job – no matter how much it supposedly sucks.
(And you know what? Sometimes those “sucky” jobs aren’t so sucky after all. Years back, I worked a near-minimum-wage job at Kohl’s, and I’d probably go back there again if my arthritis weren’t so advanced. I found the task of cleaning up the racks and hanging up the returns oddly relaxing.)
Rowe’s right to assert that our larger culture has lost the ethic that once built a house from scratch in Blue Bell. As I noted in the comment I appended to the Jay Leno video, we’re all about pushing our kids into college so they can avoid “back-breaking labor.” And ultimately, I think that attitude is profoundly wrong-headed. We still need people who can make things — who can work with their hands.
(Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds, by the way.)
First of all, he’s awesome because he’s willing to make a fool of himself – repeatedly – in order to honor our blue collar work force. I’ve watched quite a few episodes of Dirty Jobs, and Rowe’s sincere respect for the people he interviews always comes through loud and clear. For Mike Rowe, “doing the jobs that make civilization possible for the rest of us” is not just a line. He means it.
Secondly, as it turns out, Rowe’s not all that impressed with Obama — or the public sector unions. Here he is on Obama:
He wants people to see “the rich” as the problem – not him, not spending, not debt, and not some other failed policy. He wants the Rich to be the scapegoat.
And here he is on the unions:
Personally, I find all of those vocations [teacher, bus driver, health care professional in a psychiatric hospital, sanitation worker, policeman, fireman] to be noble in the extreme. And I respect the people who do the work very much. But if you’re asking why public sentiment seemed to turn against them, I would suggest that it had to do with their respective Unions, and their absolute failure to persuade the masses. They took the same sort of aggressive posture that their private counterparts often do with management. In this sort of economy, that just isn’t persuasive to a lot of concerned voters. The entire country is struggling, and the issues facing public servants were old news for people in the private sector. They made a loud, strident, and unproductive case.
More of his commentary can be found here — and it’s all thoughtful and very classy. From all appearances, Rowe has allowed his extensive exposure to Middle America to influence his politics as well as his impression of the working man — and that’s a very good thing as far as I’m concerned.
(Hat tip to John Nolte @ Big Hollywood.)