Friday, July 13, 2007


Hello, sweeties! Pretty Lady is Home Again, and she is veritably thrilled to say that she does not hate New York in the summertime quite as much as she did formerly. She will still be leaving again at the earliest opportunity, but for the nonce she is quite content to stroll up and down Fifth, sampling the new crop of Bar and Bistro Boutiques with her cute and cuddly friends, and incidentally getting paid to give groups of people common-sense advice. As Charles Murray recommends:

A reality about the job market must eventually begin to affect the valuation of a college education: The spread of wealth at the top of American society has created an explosive increase in the demand for craftsmen. Finding a good lawyer or physician is easy. Finding a good carpenter, painter, electrician, plumber, glazier, mason--the list goes on and on--is difficult, and it is a seller's market. Journeymen craftsmen routinely make incomes in the top half of the income distribution while master craftsmen can make six figures. They have work even in a soft economy. Their jobs cannot be outsourced to India. And the craftsman's job provides wonderful intrinsic rewards that come from mastery of a challenging skill that produces tangible results. How many white-collar jobs provide nearly as much satisfaction?

Even if forgoing college becomes economically attractive, the social cachet of a college degree remains. That will erode only when large numbers of high-status, high-income people do not have a college degree and don't care.
Indeed! Pretty Lady is here to tell you that although she foolishly and ignorantly went ahead and collected a couple of useless college degrees, she doesn't care about them one bit. The degree that is buttering Pretty Lady's bread today is a wholesome, cheap, practical Vocational Certification, attainable by anyone with an IQ of 85 or above, and a modicum of patience and self-discipline. Pretty Lady is here to lend every bit of status she's got to the Vocational School paradigm, and that's firm. Fie on those silly colleges!

Moreover, Pretty Lady has a few choice words to say on the subject of Employment. Whatever is up with this assumption that anyone who works for a living must necessarily have a single, monolithic, authoritarian, all-powerful and all-resented Employer? Are we all children? Must our world-views eternally encompass some sort of Daddy figure on whom to blame our problems? And where are all these Daddies coming from, anyway?

Pretty Lady would like to make the sharp suggestion that anyone with an Authority Problem try employing herself for a year or two. A person learns more about the problems and illusions and inutility of Authority by being one's own boss for six months than one does in five decades of servile Employment.

Meanwhile, Pretty Lady has an Employer arriving any moment now, who will be her boss for the next hour and twenty minutes, so she will leave you all to ponder.


Doom said...

That is fantastic! Really. You excited me and how could I disagree with your logic and the truth? Though, should I do what I really know I want, I will still need a degree or two, but pretty much minus a boss as such. Research and Design, baby, a masters degree (undergrad is too little, masters is too much, for a toy shop of my own). I don't even necessarily want to make specific things, that will just be the trade off for the neat tinker toys I get to play with and questions I get to look at. Perhaps consulting, should the R&D market be dry. But I definitely want to be on my own, or at worst, in a pack of equals.

You reignited my dream machine. Wee! It may, in fact, be too late for my dream, but I can still have it, and do.

Thanks for that. I needed that. Oh, I hope you aren't sore about earlier? Not all was meant grumpily, or meanly, mostly. Only a smidgen of it, sort of. :P

Pretty Lady said...

Never fear, my dear Doom, Pretty Lady is the definition of forgiveness, so long as you desire it, and truly Repent. ;-)

Furthermore, the best way to butter her up is to get wildly excited about one of her throwaway posts. Indeed, she has been Slacking Off her self-employed scribbling job this summer; in her defense, she must point out that the pay is terrible. She made $103.35 off her Google Ads, in two years.

At that sort of pay scale, she's not counting on much from Social Security.

Anonymous said...

Pretty Lady (or anyone else) should probably not count on much from Social Security no matter what the pay scale.

And I am happy your trip was a safe one. Welcome back.

Desert Cat said...

The one thing that working for an employer has going for it is that it is often easier, sometimes far easier than grubbing for one's paycheck one sale or service at a time. (Often not, granted. But if that describes one's lot, then there is no excuse for not striking out on one's own.)

And I am a lazy and security conscious cat in a relatively quite secure position making a relatively nice income with relatively moderate levels of stress. I look out the window at the alley cats with more freedom, but...

It would take a catastrophe to budge me out of this position, and if it did hit, one or more of my back-burner self-employment thingies would probably move front and center. Still I would recommend college for an engineering degree for anyone so inclined, especially civil engineering.

The article does make a very good point however, and one of the frustrating things to me in the whole immigration debate whenever the old canard about how "they're doing jobs Americans refuse to do" comes up, is that a whole lot of those jobs are craftsman jobs. Why *won't* Americans take those jobs? This infatuation with college degree jobs is leaving a whole lot of decent employment on the table and up for grabs.

Doom said...

I hope you do not mind that I pondered this proposal a bit, do you? Seriously. I really took your words into account, and had to think how to respond in a legitimate manner, be true to myself, and then see if that all fits your notions. So, like a good trooper, and when I finally got the other things taken care of and made room for wrestling this, I took a nap. I had been up for a day and a half, in my defense. *sigh* I do try. Well, it is done. (I am not trying to be cute, just expressing my frustrations and foibles in my odd life)

I did have to think about this. I wanted to say as close to exactly what I meant, without stirring another hornet’s nest, rightly or not, in your book or mine. I realize you are “just an internet artist” and I am “just a comic book character”, but I will not believe that as a reality. Cover stories are fine, but their existence does not negate those who live behind them. I know I am real, and I believe you are quite real as well. And further, it could be said I do not know you from Eve. True enough, to some degree. If you believe the art is devoid of the artist, then yes, that would be true. Your words and other works are alive with you. And, from that, through the filter of God, man, and machine, the ticker tape says “buy this stock”. Yes, so I believe you are real and I like you. And, I know we are a bit, and have been more, angry with one another. Rightly? Who’s fault? So, what to do.

I decided to just come clean. I do believe what I believe, for this I cannot proffer an apology. However, what I can apologize for is how I stated my beliefs, how I reacted or over reacted to your statements, my cavalier or snobbish nature, and in general, my offensive ways. If that is enough, if that is what is needed, than I am quite happy to go from there. If not, I understand that too. At times, and really, I am not sure why you all continue to put up with me, or vise versa:P I certainly see my foolishness, and I see also where I get cut a little. I’m not sure what to do for it, but to try to work it out. Oh, yes, and I do regret my words, the hurtful ones. And I seek change, as much as my fallen nature allows.

And, I really did get excited about your essay. It was not just a “fun” thing, it was a solid grouping of notions. I have been hoping for a return to a more segregated by vocation education system. The European model would not be a bad one, to an extent. And, the whole notion of needing a boss and maybe a cubicle was well stated and worth a chuckle and perhaps a harrumph or two.

I really have intentions of writing more succinctly, it just never works and I never am able to see where to cut. I do apologize for that too. It frustrates me to no end.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm new to this site but wanted to respond to this. I love and agree with your point about 4 year college vs. other tracks. I agree with Desert Cat that certainly degrees are great for certain areas and for those who know why they are there or are motivated. But too many of us ended up in college by default.

The end of vocational tracks in high school is a crime. It creates wasted lives, wasted opportunities, more poverty, more young people without direction or enough hope. It creates more dropouts. Children who could have been not only reengaged with school but given a concrete specialty which engaged them, gave them earning power and pride in their skills.

For those who succeeded in high school but weren't meant for college They can join the army, sign up with the peace corp, get jobs or volunteer - see a little. And the junior colleges and other technical schools have plenty of programs. And that last provides the answer to Europe's flaw.

While many European systems succeed in putting kids on the right tracks they have two flaws. Many lead to so much specialization that they are clueless about anything in their field. More importantly they fail to provide any true opportunity for reentry into the college track. Done is done, deal with it.

The U.S. has solved this. We not only accept older students in college now but possess the junior college system. You can go back, fill in the gaps, and learn what you slept through or didn't see why you needed it. (Dumb adults, what did they know!) When you know WHY you want it and have that fire you can go get it. The American blessing. Because of that I am all for more chances to choose tracks other than college prep and college. Hey, plenty will make more than I do! We'll have more job satisfaction, more pride in one's craft, more kids becoming useful and able to support a family, less welfare. And end this nonsense of idiots pouring out of college holding a liberal arts degree and buried in three mountains of debt.

Stepping off the soapbox. Loved your post and the WSJ article.