“A lot of frustrated people are talking really loud past each other”

The title of this post is a quote from an extended interview between Mike Rowe, of “Dirty Jobs” fame, and Ben Shapiro last weekend.  I’ll embed the full interview below, but here’s the exchange that included that comment.

SHAPIRO:  As the country sort of polarizes between the folks who are in the entertainment sphere or the journalism sphere or the sort of “high IQ” is how they would term themselves sphere, and the people who are actually working the jobs that are actually getting things done across the country, that’s a voice that seems to have been lost a lot. Do you think that’s a really serious gap, and do think that’s a bridgeable gap? Or is that gap, sort of, between the people who deem themselves to be smart and the people who deem themselves to be doing the jobs that matter, is that destined to sort of increase as time goes on here?

ROWE:  Well, there’s always been a gap – sometimes it’s wide, sometimes it’s less wide. And we all fall in love with the romantic version of ourselves, right? Whether you’re a journalist, whether you’re an actor – whatever it is you think you are, and whoever it is you think you are, you become the sun in your own solar system. So everything else is just a planet in orbit, right?

So, I think, with regard to the skills gap, and [with] regard to really any gap, it’s all just symptomatic of a series of what I would call “disconnects.” We’ve become slowly and inexorably and profoundly disconnected from a lot of very basic things that, when I grew up, I was really connected to – like where my food comes from, where my energy comes from, basic history, basic curiosity, you know? The things that fundamentally allow us to assume a level of appreciation that, in my view, is the best way to bridge those gaps – if we don’t have appreciation…

If we’re not blown away by the miracle that occurs when we flick the switch and the lights come on; if we’re not gobsmacked by flushing the toilet and seeing all of it go away; when we start losing our appreciation for those things, the gap deepens. And I think the gap right now is extraordinary.

There [are] 6.3 million jobs that are available as we speak. We have 75% of those jobs that don’t require a four-year degree and yet we’re still pushing the four-year degree as the best path for the most people, and it just happens to be the most expensive path. And a lot of people … have enough common sense to realize that $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loans is a version of lending money we don’t have to kids who can’t pay it back to train for jobs that don’t exist anymore, and that’s crazy.

So, you know, I think there’s great common sense that is still alive and well in a lot of people, and I think that as they look at the headlines, they’re frustrated. And, to be fair, I think people on the coasts are coming at it from their own bias, and they’re frustrated. So, a lot of frustrated people are talking really loud past each other and a lot of truths are inconvenient for a lot of people, and so it just gets noisy – which is a long way of saying no, I don’t think that gap will ever close.

Words of wisdom, IMHO.  I don’t know whether we can bridge that gap, but if we can’t, it bodes ill for our future as a nation.

Here’s the full interview.  It’s an hour long, but I think it’s worth watching, if you can spare the time.



  1. Now here's a thing. That trillion and a half in student debt is carried on the books as an asset by the FedGov. That's why it is not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

  2. Student debt satisfaction relies solely on someone's future ability to repay it. At the time the loan is made, there is no collateral pledged. Nor is there even any evaluation of the likelihood of borrower's future ability to repay. Frankly, unless the process has changed dramatically since my kids were of college age, the preferred student borrower is one who has, and/or whose family has, no or limited income and/or assets — just the opposite of "normal" lending practices.

    It would defeat any semblance of common sense to allow debt that was incurred with no pledged collateral and with, shall we say, negative- or reverse-qualification of borrowers, to be discharged in bankruptcy. Where's the incentive to repay?

  3. Student debt was made ineligible for bankruptcy because law students were financing their tuition with loans. Then, the day after they passed the Bar, they would sue for bankruptcy on behalf of themselves.

    I remember. I was in college when this law was passed. It was pushed by almost every law school in the country.

  4. If the people on the coasts (including my neighbors on the Third Coast) ever get what they claim to want, a new appreciation for electric power and indoor plumbing will be only the start of their learning experience.

  5. Student loans should be just as subject to bankruptcy filings as any other form of debt. If that results in lenders refusing to lend to students for fear of the students' filing for bankruptcy…that's not just fine, it's excellent. When cheap, infinite amounts of "invisible money" (aka debt) aren't freely available for anyone who wants to go to college but can't afford the insanely high tuition, colleges will have no choice but to lower their grotesquely inflated tuitions! And until they do, we'll have a generation of people who haven't been indoctrinated by militant Marxists, a generation capable of doing those jobs Mr Rowe talked about. I think that's a wonderful prospect.

  6. Bibliotheca- the difficulty is that the FedGov is the ONLY maker of student loans, and this has been the case for quite some time now.

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