Sunday, December 4, 2011

More Reading - and More Information

Kerodin over at III Percent Patriots puts up an excellent Open Letter to Occupy that I want to link to and enlarge a little.

Yesterday's chores included a stop at a Harbor Freight store here in town.  Harbor Freight (known to precision metalworkers as Horrible Freight) is a seller of all manner of Chinese and third world tools made of questionable metals with questionable capability, durability and quality.  To be fair, much of their stuff is quite serviceable, and will get a job done right: jackstands, paint brushes, carts, and other tools just aren't that hard to get right.  The point is that the store had a large Help Wanted sign in the window and is working hard to staff a retail store in this wretched economy.

How this relates to Kerodin's piece is that there are real opportunities out there for people who are willing to work.  If you're willing to do hard work, there are many more.  The November 17th edition of Machine Design reports a study by Manpower Group, which says 52% of American companies are having trouble filling job openings.  The ManpowerGroup study backs another study, this from Georgetown University, that says workers in "STEM" (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) can expect to earn rising wages.  The reason is really quite simple: the hard sciences are, well, hard, and over a third of the students who start into college in STEM fields don't make it. 

Georgetown says that by 2018, about 35% of the STEM workforce will be people with Community College degrees at most.  They predict a need for 1 million workers with STEM associate's degrees and another 3/4 of a million with certificate programs.  Further, from the high school student with STEM emphasis through BS degrees, most workers in STEM fields do better than their non-STEM classmates.

Despite the rantings of the left, mathematics is not a secret subject that is only taught to empower white people (I swear I heard this); not only are the books available to everyone, learning basic math is required to graduate high school.  It's the ultimate meritocracy; if you can do the work, you get the job.  STEM training is a national priority!

So, at the risk of sounding like a heartless old white dude, instead of taking out that $100,000 in student debt to study any of the Offended Minority Studies programs, the Occupy Whatever folks should go get a certificate in welding, or learn to program a CNC center, become an electronics technician, a medical technician of some kind or any number of other STEM jobs. 


  1. In my undergraduate engineering program nearly 35 years ago, we lost 1/2 the first year, another 1/2 the second year, and another 1/2 the third year. That is, only 1/8th of those starting as freshmen made it to the start of the senior year. Of those starting the senior year, almost everyone graduated that school year, with only a couple of students going into the summer or fall before graduating. In my more recent checks, the numbers washing out these days is about half what it was back then. That said, current engineering curricula are still noticeably harder than, say, ethnic studies. The pay is much better for STEM grads, in general, too.

    -- GB

  2. "Math can solve its own problems without my help."

    I wonder if the reason the numbers graduating are higher is due to more students from India/Asia entering the sciences, engineering, etc.? Hate to say it, but back in 1998 when I returned to school to get my RN, most students at our school were white, and their rallying cry was "I don't want to know anything but what is gonna be on the test!" This was less the case in nursing, but in most of the other programs and non-health science classes, it prevailed.

    Trivia: I carried every day of nursing school. It was legal in OR if you had a CCW permit, but I would have been summarily dismissed and banned from school if the instructors or administration had discovered this fact. Sat right up front, I did ;-)

  3. Reg - the "is this on the test?" thing is everywhere, including the limited grad school work I did (long story - some other time). Thankfully, once we get them into work, they seem to understand it's all important, and that making mistakes will kill people.

    Side note - I worked in an electronics field where mistakes were just expensive and not life threatening only once in my career. That hand written sign means a lot to me.

    Mrs. Graybeard used to work on the Space Shuttle, and says she'd wake up at night with the "did you do the _____ right??" nightmare.

  4. TJ - wasn't there a Barbie doll that said that?

  5. Speaking of math and Barbie dolls, have you seen this? I have no idea if it is real or a spoof. I'm praying it was a spoof. (Miss USA 2011)

  6. Reg - that video is a spoof, thankfully, but the fact that we think it might be true is an indictment of the educational system.

    The spoof video is credited at: Huffington Post