Friday, April 1, 2016

The Dirty Jobs Guy

Mike Rowe has emerged as this year's "blue collar hero."  It seems that conservatives need one every election cycle to ground the campaign to some largely fictive bedrock on which they build their ideals.  His facebook message "Off the Wall" has been getting a lot of likes and shares as he tees off on Bernie Sanders for promoting free public university education.

If you don't know who Mike Rowe is, he is the guy who made his name doing dirty jobs around the country.  He's a very affable guy who after his show ran its course in 2012, teamed up with Glenn Beck to promote vocational jobs.  The funny part is that he has a college education.  Mike's piece of sheepskin is from Towson University, where he studied communications.  He went into television, starting out on QVC before finding more meaningful work with the Discovery Channel.

Mike seems to think that the answer to all these student loans piling up is to go vocational.  Of course, vocational schools aren't free either, so unless a company is willing to sponsor your education you have to find some way to pay for it, most likely with a loan, as that is the way our world turns.  It might not be as expensive as Harvard, which Glenn Beck poo-poos, but it will set you back just the same and you will have to put in some extra man hours to cover your debt.

Not too many people know this, but Bernie started out as a carpenter, so it is not like he is against trade schools, as Dirty Jobs Mike intones.  Bernie feels that university education should be part of the overall education package and that persons shouldn't have to pay extra for it, unless they want to go to a private school.  To a certain degree, this was the idea behind community colleges, which proliferated in the 1970s as a low-cost alternative to universities.  It was not only a great starter university, if you will, but also offered continuing education for older persons.  Bernie rightly feels all public universities should be this way.  Why should students have to accrue such enormous debts to get a higher education?

Dirty Jobs Mike insists Bernie is demeaning trade schools with his insistence on free college education.  Mike goes so far as to call it a "dangerous idea," promoting his own work ethic scholarships instead.  There is no doubt a need for manual skills, but Mike is the one promoting one at the expense of the other, not Bernie.

This kind of blue collar attitude fits nicely into the conservative ethos, not that the Republican Party is doing very much to actually promote it.  The GOP has consistently voted down jobs bills and retraining programs over the years, but don't tell Mike that.  He seems to have found his fit in the conservative movement, even if he considers himself an apolitical guy not ready to endorse anyone on the campaign trail.  Instead, he assails President Obama, particularly over gun control which appears to be a pet peeve of his.

I liked Mike when he was doing Dirty Jobs, but not since he has become increasingly political in the years afterward.  Whether knowingly or unknowingly he promotes the same anti-intellectual agenda that conservatives have been pushing for decades, even when many of them attended Harvard and Yale.  He wants to pit his blue collar affinity against the white collar world he has personified with such effete liberals as Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders.

He has set up Bernie as a convenient straw man in this year's election cycle, as so many conservatives have, to blast socialism as undermining the American fabric.  He conveniently ignores that co-operatives, a form of socialism, have been set up by ranchers, farmers and fishermen alike to better conserve land and fishing waters so that they can be used by subsequent generations.  Or that trades people form unions to protect their interests, whether it be auto workers or plumbers or carpenters.  In his mind, like that of so many conservatives, it is the individual spirit that drives America, when in actual fact it is the social will of this country that binds us and makes this country strong.

I think Mike is smart enough to know this, but prefers to promote the concept of individual liberty as it plays well to his growing audience on facebook and twitter, with his missives and tweets subsequently picked up by conservative blogs like The Federalist Papers Project, which adds its editorial notes and further distributes Mike's thoughts via the social media, so that Mike has now become a household name among conservatives, much like Joe the Plumber in 2008.  Not bad for a communications major out of Towson University.


  1. He's likely just doing this to get his ratings up.

    1. It seems he's trying to promote his vocational school program.