One of the things I appreciate about Mike [besides the OBVIOUS], is his commitment to the average working class men and women of this country. Having grown up loving a factory-working dad, I was practically standing up cheering when I listened to Mike speak to Congress . If you’ve never watched the video, please do it. I can’t say enough about Mike’s passionate plea and personal reflections. Which brings me to today’s thoughts:
After visiting Ellis Island earlier this month, I’ve spent a good deal of time considering that what was awaiting immigrants was, overwhelmingly, a hard life filled with more challenges. They may have been free—but most were also staggeringly poor.
Could it be that we are regressing back to such a reality today?
We are seeing more and more families struggling in our current economy. The middle class is shrinking and college grads are both unemployed and shouldering thousands of dollars in student loans they cannot pay. Masses of humanity Occupy Wall Street to plead for fairness and opportunity. The job market is strained; deflated altogether.
So what does this mean for the next generation of workers? For those in this generation who cannot find work?
Have we become too accustomed to a life of luxury and ease? Do we expect a cushy office job with stock options and a travel allowance? Have we become a nation with an entitlement mentality?
Fifty years ago it was respectable to specialize in plumbing or electric. A young man who gained an apprenticeship was celebrated. Going to work with a brick mason promised a lifetime of honest pay.
Now, those careers are viewed, by and large, as “leftovers” for those who don’t go to college or who can’t “cut it” in a “real” job [read: pressed shirt and tie]. We’ve forced our students to choose between Tech center training and AP courses, and for the most part, the reputation of non-AP kids is that they’re heading nowhere.
But is that true?
Should we shrug off dirty jobs and work that requires a shovel and some muscle?
Perhaps it’s time we start changing the way we look at these “consolation prize jobs” as Mike puts it. Perhaps the only way to get America working again is to herald those jobs as real opportunities for a viable paycheck without the burden of student loans.
I believe it will continue to become more and more important for our country, and certainly for our children, not to close any doors to them. Not to pass along the bias of book education over sweat equity.
Just as we welcomed all who were willing to work to pass through Ellis Island at the turn of the century, we should welcome—and applaud—all who are willing to work in the early years of this century.
Let’s re-imagine jobs in 2011 and beyond so that we can all go after our dreams and cross our own Atlantic oceans. Let’s encourage our kids to get dirty—and get America working again.
What do you think about Mike’s speech to Congress? Agree or disagree? Why?