There are currently 43 million people with outstanding student loans totaling $1.6 trillion. I said people because many borrowers are no longer students, and the chances are excellent that these same people are not working. There is a good chance these people wasted thousands of dollars on an education and degree with no future. The ROI on the money they borrowed is poor… very poor.
We have made a grave mistake with the current generation. We pushed the majority of Millennials and Gen-X to go to college. We preached the lie that the only way to a future of prosperity and security was to obtain a college degree. We could not have been more wrong. We neglected and downplayed the trades, which will be a decision that will haunt us for years. If you do not believe me, try to get a plumber, electrician, carpenter, or mechanic. Good luck.
Enter Mike Rowe. I have been a fan of Mike’s for some time. He is not just a celebrity who hosted a TV series for ratings and cash. He had a mission. That mission was to shine a light on the jobs and workers that make America run. He highlighted jobs that none of us think about, but our lives would be far more difficult if people did not do them. Rowe pushed the importance of the trades, and the joke was on most college students or graduates. The tradesmen that Mike highlighted were making six figures doing honest work with their hands and their minds. Those who chose a course different from four years of college made serious money without the six-figure student loan debt.
Mike not only talks the talk, but he backs it up with action. Mike has a foundation, the Mike Rowe Works Foundation. Established in 2008, Mike’s foundation has awarded over $5 million in scholarships to deserving students to help them achieve their dream to become a licensed tradesman. That is $5 million well-invested dollars.
America is lending money it doesn’t have to kids who can’t pay it back to train them for jobs that no longer exist. That’s nuts.” – Mike Rowe.
Mike gets it. Not everyone needs to go to college, and he is promoting a desirable alternative. The trades will always be necessary and provide a good living for those men and women who want to work hard and perform services that will always be in demand. Mike is not a hero but a realist. He has spent time with people who make a living getting their hands dirty.
The younger generation has not failed us. We have failed them. We thought we could create a better economy and society by seeing every one of our children holding a degree in their hands throwing a mortarboard and tassel into the air. The problem is that the scenario satisfied our need to see our children succeed, but it did not put them in place to seize the opportunities in front of them.
There is a wide range of options we all face looking into the future. Some will become brain surgeons, and some will clean up the operating room. Both are integral to the surgery performed, but not everyone is created to fill both positions. The person whose life is moving on due to the miracle performed by the surgeon in the white coat cannot thank the surgeon enough. Nobody ever thinks about the person in the white coat who cleans up after the miracle.
Different levels of study go into each job, but they are both essential, just like the center fielder batting cleanup and the catcher batting ninth. We have different dreams of the place our children will fill. We forgot that there might be glory for the surgeon, but there is dignity for the person pushing the mop. Both are essential to the team.
By Ray Cardello
Ray Cardello is a patriotic, conservative blogger at A Conservative View from New Hampshire who believes America is strong enough to keep us on track but making folks aware of the truth is essential to a successful and prosperous future for us all.
Photo by Next TwentyEight at Flickr.