Mike Rowe is a philosopher. Though his thinking often veers toward blue-collar themes, he’s a capable thinker. And when it comes to logic, Rowe is more gifted than most. His rhetorical skills, too, are seldom matched by pop-culture icons and reality TV hosts. Yet people insist on trying to match wits with him. When will they learn?
This is one of those times. Rowe, as always, is gracious with the attack.
“Yesterday,” Rowe writes on Facebook, “I posted an article that dared to question the universal wisdom of pushing everyone toward a four-year degree. The article reached 3 million people, and not everyone was pleased…”
“Dawn Baker wrote, ‘Is it your intent to make those who choose college to feel ashamed, lazy and brainwashed? Our country’s education system is under attack, and you seem to be supplying more ammunition to those attacking it……There’s a reason many of these jobs pay well – they are truly HARD WORK – physically hard. Dangerous hard. Mentally hard. Feel free to send reps to the local unemployment office and brow beat them to send people to these jobs. Whether you mean to or not – your are sending a very bad message to those who want to destroy our higher education system.”
If there’s a sure-fire way to really get someone’s goat, tell them what they’re actually doing. Rowe, though, he knows what he’s doing.
“You’re right – our countries educational system is indeed under attack. But the attack is from within, and the wounds are self-inflicted.”
“Yesterday, they installed a ‘Cry Closet’ at The University of Utah, where students feeling stressed-out over finals can clutch a stuffed animal and bawl their eyes out in private. Last week, Ranga Jarrar, a professor at Fresno State, called Barbara Bush a witch and a racist the day she died, then bragged to the world that her tenured position meant that she could speak without fear of consequence. Meanwhile, Berkley just banned another speaker with views and ideas their students find “objectionable.” Or was it Yale? Hell, who can keep track anymore?”
“Point is, Dawn, the hypocrisy in our educational system is rank, the bias undeniable, the disrespect for our flag ubiquitous, and the entire ‘safe space’ mentality the exact opposite of what life is like in the real world. Higher education has created its own PR nightmare. Is it any wonder parents are trying to figure out if their kids should be sent into such a lopsided environment? Is it any wonder reasonable people are beginning to question the value of a four-year degree?”
“Tuition has increased at two and half times the rate of inflation. Nothing else this important has ever done that. Not real estate, energy, food, even healthcare. The question is why? Is the quality of education two and half times better than it was thirty years ago? No way. Are universities turning out more graduates? Hardly. Fifty percent of those who enroll don’t even graduate. Do people have more disposable income today than they used to? Of course not.”
“No, universities have been able to raise their prices partly because too many parents believe that anything less than a four-year degree will doom their kid to a less productive existence, and partly because we’ve pressured millions of kids to borrow whatever it takes from a bottomless pool of unlimited money that doesn’t really exist. The result? One and a half trillion dollars of student debt, 6.3 million jobs that no one wants to do, and millions of college graduates who can’t find work in their chosen fields – but lack the skill to do the kind of jobs currently available. The kind of jobs you deem, ‘hard work’.”
“To answer your question, Dawn, no – my intent is not to make those who choose college feel ‘ashamed, lazy or brainwashed.’ My intent is to remind people that a university is not the only place to enrich your mind or prepare yourself for the real world. Nor is it necessarily the best place. It’s merely the most expensive. Other options exist, including those offered through my scholarship fund. Please feel free to apply, should your position at Oregon University ever vanish. Or, should you one day conclude that work is not the enemy.”
“PS. This is a short but excellent video from a graduate of Haverford College, who sums it up better that I. Enjoy!”