In terms of actual number of days spent in a classroom, I have probably had less formal education than anyone I know. For the most part, this hasn’t kept me from earning a living; I have occasionally bounced off the bottom of the barrel, but geometry (which was my best subject back in ninth grade, or was it tenth?) tells us that the bounce is, of necessity, upward.
That said, I admit to a smidgen of sympathy for the perennial students, who dare not emerge from academia, lest they face this:
The American economy in our time has proved unable to absorb as many college graduates as our colleges and universities are turning out. This is partly because of the economy’s overall weakness, of course, but it also stems from the disinclination of a young adult with a degree to “work with his hands:” i.e., to enter the labor force as a tradesman, a factory hand, or some other variety of manual laborer. The college experience prejudices the graduate against “menial” labor in several obvious ways and in one not-so-obvious one: the cost of four or more years earning a degree can seldom be defrayed on a blue-collar income.
Yet the skilled trades are precisely where the economy lacks sufficient participants. Who among us has not quailed at the sight of a plumber’s or electrician’s invoice? No, they don’t get rich even at the rates we experience today; they’re not busy enough for that. But skilled tradesmen do well enough to support themselves and their families in acceptable comfort. More, as they tend to be self-employed, few of them worry about “being let go.”
I have never quite determined the color of my collar: it’s not white, exactly, but it doesn’t seem all that blue either. Then again, I usually wear a T-shirt (with a pocket) to work, making collar consideration largely irrelevant.
And anyway, “Weird Al” Yankovic predicted all this thirty years ago, when he tangled with “a plumber and an architect, both with a Ph.D.”