This speech Mike Rowe gave at a 2008 TED conference is also very, very good, as is this testimony he gave to the House Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in 2011.
From that TED presentation:
We've declared war on work. As a society - all of us. It's a civil war, it's a cold war, really. We didn't set out to do it, and we didn't twist our mustache in some Machiavellian way, but we've done it. And we've waged this war on at least four fronts. Certainly in Hollywood. The way we portray working people on TV? It's laughable. If there's a plumber, he's 300 pounds and he has a giant butt-crack, admit it. You've seen it all the time, that's what plumbers look like, right? We turn 'em into heroes or we turn 'em into punchlines. That's what TV does. We try hard on Dirty Jobs not to do that, which is why I do the work and I don't cheat.
We've waged this war on Madison Avenue. So many of the commercials that come out there in the way of a message, what's really being said? Life would be better if you could work a little less. If you didn't have to work so hard. If you could get home a little earlier, if you could retire a little faster, if you could punch out a little sooner. It's all in there, over and over, again and again.
Washington? I can't even begin to talk about the deals and policies in place that affect the bottom-line reality of the available jobs 'cause I don't really know. I just know that that's a front in this war.
And right here, guys; Silicon Valley. How many people have an iPhone on 'em right now? How many people have their Blackberries? We're plugged in, we're connected. I would never suggest for a second that something bad has come out of the tech revolution. Good grief, not to this crowd. But I would suggest that innovation without imitation is a complete waste of time. And nobody celebrates imitation the way Dirty Jobs guys know it has to be done. Your iPhone without those people making the same interface, the same circuitry, the same board over and over - all that, that's what makes it equally as possible as the genius that goes inside of it.
And so we've got this new tool box. Our tools today don't look like shovels and picks, they look like the stuff we walk around with. And so the collective effect of all of that has been this marginalization of lots and lots of jobs.
I'm a carpenter getting a little long in the tooth and it is hard to find young'uns who are adept at simple manuel tasks let alone challenging skills.
oops, my faux pas hits the nail on the cabeza. If you want someone to do manual tasks it might have to be Manuel (or Jose or Pedro)
The precarious perch of modern civilization sits upon the shoulders of electrical, plumbing, and air engineers. I never want to live in a world without them.
It's why I never go camping.
Putting up Cell phone towers in all kinds of weather? Hard work (a friend of mine used to do that for a living).
Keeping a big coal-fired power plant running? Hard work, in all kinds of seasons.
Repairing power lines after a big storm? In summer, hot exhausting work, with a hard hat and steel toed boots on in 90 or 100 degree weather. In winter, cold and dangerous, up in a bucket truck, 20 feet or more off the ground.
Follow around the guys that pick up your trash. Hard, hot work in the summer. And go visit the landfill that they probably take your trash to. Hard, dirty work managing that. But incredibly necessary to keep a big city halfway sanitary.
And go visit a water waste-treatment plant, another dirty job that can frankly be disgusting, but all too necessary to keep our cities from dying from dysentary and a whole host of diseases.
Well, no wonder. Kids are shackled by the Labor Department from doing anything like actual work, save for bagging groceries. You need a license to babysit for a couple of hours. My kids couldn't even deliver papers until they were 13, and my 4 year old helped deliver papers, she understood the profitability of getting money at 4!
They have all but stopped teaching actual manly skills, forcing the teens into home economics, which is long on preaching fat and sugar free, and short on actual skills in food prep and comparative shopping.
My husband hired my son-in-law and taught him how to paint, hang dry wall, install electronics, run saws, use a trowel and other things that will keep the boy employable for his whole life.
They don't even teach girls how to sew anymore.
It's one of the few things that the fat old fool Lush Rimblow is right about: we've seen the chickification of America.
The Chinese, Brazilians and Russians have not undergone the same enlightenment.
He should turn down the glib a little - and the 'Barack' familiarity jarred (a supporter?;the second kit would never have passed muster when Shari Lewis was extant, either, but otherwise a couple of excellent soliloquies. Wish there was someone in the UK who could imitate his spiel, as it is equally relevant here.
American educrats embrace the notion that when something is failing, what is needed is more of it. When Americans were "the best educated people on earth" (Alexis de Tocqueville) school was part time and work was not. Work is where you learn both why you are getting an education, and what its application is.