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Will Skilled Hands-On Labor Finally Become More Valuable?

Will Skilled Hands-On Labor Finally Become More Valuable?

The sands beneath what’s scarce and what’s over-abundant are shifting.
On a recent visit to the welding shop where my niece’s husband works, I asked him if they had enough welders for their workload. His answer surprised me: “If you asked every welding shop in the country if they have enough welders, the answer would be no.”
The reasons for this disparity between the economic need and the workforce’s skills aren’t that complicated. Many of the skilled welders are Baby Boomers who are retiring or nearing retirement, and there aren’t enough younger trained welders to meet the need.
Though there appears to be an uptick in the number of young people interested in apprenticing to construction trades, the cultural zeitgeist has largely disdained hands-on, real-world skills in favor of making videos, becoming social-media influencers, joining an investment bank to make bank, working for a tech startup to score a quick million or two in stock options or if no creative way to make it big presents itself, join the cushiest bureaucracy available with lifetime security, or seek out a non-profit doing some virtue-signaling projects to pad your resume.
As for hands-on skills, becoming a chef certainly topped becoming a crane operator, as attaining semi-celebrity has become a core ladder of social mobility. The desirable livelihoods are creative, virtue-signaling, semi-celebrity and perhaps most importantly, clean white-collar (mostly digital) work.
On top of this cultural disdain we can overlay the general surplus of labor globally and the relative scarcity of profitable homes for capital. As I have often mentioned, the twin drivers of wealth for the past 30 years (arguably even longer) have been financialization and globalization, both of which heavily favor capital over labor, with the exception of tech-managerial skills needed to maximize profits in financialized, globalized ventures.

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Technology: Distracting, Disturbing, Deceiving & Deluding Ourselves to Death

TECHNOLOGY: DISTRACTING, DISTURBING, DECEIVING & DELUDING OURSELVES TO DEATH

“What Huxley teaches is that in the age of advanced technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth. 

When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; a culture-death is a clear possibility.” ― Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Image result for huxley amusing ourselves to death

Something as mundane as using the restroom at work sometimes ends up triggering deeper thoughts about technology – its benefits, deficiencies and danger to our culture. I’ve been using the same restroom at work for the last twelve years. They remodeled the restroom a few years ago with the latest technology – automatic flushers, automatic soap dispensers, automatic spigots, and automatic towel dispenser. This technology is supposed to make things better, but from my perspective the technology just added complexity, glitches and unnecessary complications.

First off, these technological “improvements” did not eliminate any humans from the equation. The housekeepers responsible for the restrooms continued to be employed. Prior to the remodel they would fill a metal bin with individual paper towels and fill the soap dispenser with liquid soap. Now they have to insert a roll of paper towels in the electronic dispenser and a cartridge of soap in the electronic soap dispenser.

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Mad World

MAD WORLD

And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very very
Mad world, mad world

Image result for the primal scream

The haunting Gary Jules version of the Tears for Fears’ Mad World speaks to me in these tumultuous mad times. It must speak to many others, as the music video has been viewed over 132 million times. The melancholy video is shot from the top of an urban school building in a decaying decrepit bleak neighborhood with school children creating various figures on the concrete pavement below. The camera pans slowly to Gary Jules singing on the rooftop and captures the concrete jungle of non-descript architecture, identical office towers, gray cookie cutter apartment complexes, and a world devoid of joy and vibrancy.

The song was influenced by Arthur Janov’s theories in his book The Primal Scream. The chorus above about his “dreams of dying were the best he ever had” is representative of letting go of this mad world and being free of the monotony and release from the insanity of this world. Our ego fools us into thinking the madness of this world is actually normal. Day after day we live lives of quiet desperation. Despite all evidence our world is spinning out of control and the madness of the crowds is visible in financial markets, housing markets, politics, social justice, and social media, the level of normalcy bias among the populace has reached astounding levels, as we desperately try to convince ourselves everything will be alright. But it won’t.

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Impotence and Denial: The Desperate Virtue Signaling Voices

IMPOTENCE AND DENIAL: THE DESPERATE VIRTUE SIGNALING VOICES

Regardless of whether we are speaking of individuals or groups, what is not said is often far more important and enlightening than what is. How and why we self censor while conforming to the collective hive mind speaks volumes about whom and what controls, or at least greatly influences, our thinking and beliefs.

While those engaged might argue otherwise, virtue signaling is all about displaying our cognitive compliance to the group think of our adopted tribe or herd. Virtue signaling usually does not require actual activity or productive effort towards whatever we are signaling about, thought it also doesn’t preclude it, only that we inform the clan we are right thinking and obedient to the hive mind. In form and function, it is very similar to the movement of herds of animals and flocks of birds.

On the surface this makes perfect sense, allowing the individual to share in the rewards (physically, emotionally and monetarily) of being a cooperative and accepted member of the group. Even today the opportunity for safety and prosperity rise when we join a group rather than live the solitary life, even if our group is defined as a nation or religion. Living alone in the Outback for example, particularly for those not well adapted, is not conducive to a long healthy life.

But just as the hive mind demands uniformity in speech and thought, so too does it command certain thought and speech to be verboten and not to be broached other than in passing and in a derogatory manner.

It is here we ask that age old question of which comes first, the chicken or the egg. Or in this case, does the group organize before leadership is selected or does leadership gather like-minded followers who then grow the group via assimilation, control and conquest? My money is on the latter and, in my opinion, is a direct outcome of herd mentality and the hive mind.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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