Help Wanted: No Blue Collar Need Apply

Piece by piece, I watched them tear it down. The concrete and brick walls came down with a mighty crash, the machines playing a dance around this relic of a bygone era.

There were some good reasons for this factory to have ceased production. This plant, that sat for decades overlooking the bay, had it’s own dark secrets. For many a year it spewed it’s toxic waste straight out into the cold waters that lapped it’s concrete embankments. The environmental damage was staggering. It would take decades, if not centuries, for the bay to repair itself.

As I stood on the bridge overlooking the demo site other thoughts came into my mind. Here was yet another small town in America that was losing its blue-collar industry. As the baby boomers traipsed across the American landscape looking for “a nice place to retire” any town that happened to be located near open water and hills that overlooked it (white people love views and open water, they’ll do anything they can to have both at once) was fair game.

White collar America wants views and nice parks by the bay. Places to dine and shop while listening to the seagulls cry overhead. And what white collar wants, white collar gets.

It dawned on me, and not for the last time, that the blue-collar worker in America had been outsourced, underpaid and overworked on a consistent basis since the mid 1970’s. Americans had bought the lie that they were too good to work with their hands (but apparently the hands of ten year olds in sweatshops in India were completely acceptable). They began to believe that life would be better if they just had more schooling, so to school they went. And went, and went, and went until their high school diplomas, bachelors degree’s, associates, masters, PhD’s and doctorates meant nothing more than the pieces of paper they were written on.

When my mother and father graduated high school in ’73 they needed nothing more than a high school diploma and a good work ethic to earn a real living wage. Contrast that with the current working environment where you need at least four years of post high school education to even think of applying for a job that will pay you enough to sustain a somewhat decent living.

I take up serious issue with the validity of the many white-collar jobs that have been created in the last twenty years. What does the white-collar worker actually do for the society around them? What tangible things do they have to show for all the “work” they do (besides money and all the shit they can buy with it)? They aren’t building homes, painting houses, repairing cars, growing food or fixing leaks. They don’t (for the most part) mow their own yards, clean their own homes or raise their own kids. So if they’re not doing any of these things than what the hell are they doing? Oh you can find them pushing paper, filing lawsuits, lobbying government, and many other types of activities that I would deem closer to doing nothing (a.k.a. “looking busy”) than actually doing something to directly benefit the society around them.

And this is what four years or more in a university does for many people. It teaches them how to “look busy” and make lots of money while doing it. It is partly because of the “workless” white-collar workers rise to power that the blue-collar worker has seen a decrease in everything from their paycheck to general societal respect. To be blue collar in “modern” day America is to be looked at as someone who was too stupid or too lazy to get a “real”, white collar job.

My mother and I have had an ongoing conversation over the recent state of our failed nation state. America has come upon a time of great reckoning. It may come to pass in this time of reckoning that the “workless” white collar workers will be exposed as the true drain on society that they are.

When the rubber meets the road and the almighty dollar ain’t worth shit you can bet I’ll be turning to the farmer before the stockbroker for help.

Further processing: Only a few short hours after posting this entry I listened to a Bill Moyers podcast that confirmed much of what I had just written on. Here's the broadcast link for anyone interested: Bill Moyers


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