As our unemployment rate hovers stubbornly over 8%, we are witnessing an America that again seems to be teetering on the verge of economic collapse. The talking heads on the network and cable news and opinion programs tell us that our economy is growing slowly, but those of us living in the real world, witnessing rising gasoline and food prices, know better. Our economy is standing still at best.
Yet, there is work that needs to be done. Time continues to march forward and weather conditions and just plain wear and tear take their toll on roads, homes, and commercial structures. Roads need to be repaired or repaved and homes require interior and exterior maintenance as do commercial buildings. Daily in my neighborhood, I hear the buzz of lawnmowers and string trimmers as landscapers, often not American citizens, work busily. In my infrequent travels throughout my local community, I witness home improvement work being done on homes – not as much as in better economic times. And, as with landscapers, many of those performing the work appear to be foreigners.
Before anyone gets the wrong impression, I am not about to bemoan non-citizens taking the jobs of Americans. In today’s America, virtually all children are lectured on the benefits of higher education. Yet, in our current economic plight, there are too many college graduates, lacking experience and business savvy, vying for too few positions. In a bad job market, employers can and do demand trained, experienced employees to fill their precious openings. And this state of affairs is not likely to change, even should our economy incrementally improve.
The plight of today’s college grads reminds me of a similar situation that existed at the conclusion of World War ll. Too many inexperienced GI’s returned seeking to fill the jobs needed to retool America’s peacetime factories. To develop and trained labor force and employee homecoming GI’s, America’s answer came in the form of the GI Bill enabling the returning heroes to gain a college degree or a trade school diploma.
Today, with the outsourcing of production work to other parts of the world, our once bustling factories lie dormant. The life blood of American Labor has succumbed to corporate profits in a global economy. So, the only jobs remaining for an inexperienced labor force are low paying jobs at or just above minimum wage.
Think about it. At $10 per hour, an employee would earn just $400 in a typical 40-hour work week, hardly enough to raise a family let along pay a mortgage. What is going to happen to our society? Will we become more dependent on government assistance and ultimately become a democratic socialist state like much of Europe? Or, might the desire for economic security lead our society to move toward authoritarianism?
Where will America stand as we near a One World Government Global Society? Will we lose our sovereignty – willingly or unwillingly? These are the unanswered questions that beset all liberty-loving Americans.
Yet, Americans still have a choice. To reclaim our jobs, build a skilled workforce, and revitalize our economy, we need to reorient our thinking on education. The mindset of the American student is to go to college to secure his financial future. Yet, recent college grads are learning the hard lesson that perhaps the lean, mean businesses of today and the foreseeable future have no place for the hundreds of thousands of students graduating with degrees in business and the liberal arts.
Vocational training, long the poor step-sister of American education, may be an answer. If today’s parents had guided their children to learn a trade, many of those young people currently unemployed might have been working, perhaps in businesses of their own. Vocational training need not replace college, although for some it could. Moreover, it has value even for those who never earn a dime from their skills. Most of these people will someday become homeowners and may be able to apply their trades skills in doing work on their own homes.
Many of our nation’s Founding Fathers were Freemasons, who trace their roots to the building of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem in 967 B.C. If enough of our young people learned a trade – in lieu of or in addition to a college education – perhaps that might spawn a new American Revolution, one that will help propel a new sense of economic freedom and security.