Born to be an engineer, I’ve always been inquisitive about how things worked, and my father was a machinist who could fix anything by replacing a part or creating a replacement part. He let me help him with all repair projects around the house, and even gave me full responsibility for many of them as I acquired skills.
I worked my way toward an engineering degree by working as a Junior Engineering Draftsman for a national company and became an Air Force officer and member of a team of engineers/analysts specially trained to repair any problem with the Minuteman nuclear missile system that no one else could fix.
When my wife and I decided to build our dream house, I worked with the architect to make sure all elements of the design were simple and easily maintained. We’ve lived there for 34 years now, and I’ve only used contractors to replace certain items, such as water heaters, air conditioning systems, or the roof, when they obviously needed replacement. I learned a long time ago that no modern contractor could repair things like I do. Now that I am too old to do some of these maintenance chores myself, I have confirmed that most contractors cause more problems than they solve.
“Skilled Craftsmen” Just Aren’t What They Used to Be
Of course, today’s contractors are not the same skilled craftsman of yore. In the good-old-days, a crew employed by the business owner came out and completed your job professionally. The quality of the work was based on years of experience and reflected on the reputation of the company involved.
Today, almost all businesses or companies are merely 1-800 companies with TV ads and a web page. They have no employee craftsmen and maybe no office in the local area or state. A project gets scheduled and a team of undocumented male subcontractors, who respond to assignments from many other companies, are sent to your home to do the job. I say male because no undocumented females seem to be interested in the feminist mantra equal pay for equal work by becoming roofers or pavers. Their passion seems to be limited to maid service in my area. If something is done incorrectly, another subcontractor is sent out to fix the problem, usually causing yet another issue, until the entire project or system needs replacement.
PBS Addresses the Issue
PBS addresses this shortage of skilled craftsmen in the trades in the new season of the long-running shows “This Old House” and “Ask This Old House.”They responded to the lack of qualified construction workers by initiating an apprenticeship program called Generation Next and joining the Mike Rowe WORKS Foundation in their Work Ethics Scholarship Program.
In the second episode of “Ask This Old House,” they feature a 10-year-old female fan, who is interested in math and tools, and teach her how to build a toolbox. They fill it with tools for the fourth grader to use at home. Maybe she’ll show her father what a screwdriver can do?
The Army Falls Short
The other newsworthy event recently was when the Army announced that they could no longer meet annual recruiting requirements because 87% of people aged 17–24 do not meet the necessary qualifications for military service. I don’t think the skills required just to join the Army even come close to those needed for construction. Of course, those requirements will be ignored when a draft is imposed for the next inevitable war.
Progressive Ideology and Degrees for Everyone
Why is there a shortage of skills in the trades? Perhaps it has something to do with the progressive concept of a college degree for everyone. You get a degree, you get a degree, and you get a degree. Maybe it has to do with the self-esteem movement of the 1970s that convinced teachers to tell their female students that they can do anything. Maybe it was the feminist movement of the 60s that persuaded women that motherhood was not a career. Maybe it was the flood of immigrants of the 80s who were willing to do the work that no one else seemed to want. Maybe it was all of the above.
Ancestral European surnames used to reflect the father’s craft, like Schumacher. But the last two generations of girls imagined themselves as astronauts or presidents, not bricklayers or plumbers. After a generation or two of useless college degrees in Feminist Studies, girls were then told that they should dream about careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Maybe they should have considered working in CEMP (Carpentry, Electrical, Masonry, or Plumbing). Plenty of jobs there.
Barbie: A Reflection of Changing Times, or a Cause?
The most reliable indicator of our society’s manipulation of the female demographic is the Barbie doll. The doll was introduced in 1959 to lure girls away from motherhood and their Betsy Wetsy dolls. The illusion that girls should be slender and attractive, wearing the latest fashions, quickly replaced the chores of changing wet diapers.
In 1974 Barbie’s little sister, Skipper, grew breasts when her arms were twisted. In 1975, Barbie won Olympic Gold. In 1985, career Barbie marketing took control, convincing little girls that they could be doctors, astronauts, pilots, soldiers, and even president – but not a carpenter. In 1992, Barbie was able to say, math class is tough, admitting that girls’ interests tended to avoid STEM. Since 2011, Barbie has drifted into tattoos, racial variations, and Islam, but the mutation in 2016 might be the strangest iteration yet to be seen: Curvy Barbie assures girls that obesity is beautiful and should be celebrated.
The only thing that was missing from the entire evolution of Barbie was the trades – until now. As we go to press, Mattel just announced Builder Barbie, complete with Mega Bloks. Barbie is now dressed as a construction worker, ready for a career in CEMP. Mattel finally recognizes the gap in the trades. Girls can put their Builder Barbie doll in the toolbox they learned to make on “Ask This Old House.”
I don’t think I’ll hold my breath until a skilled female roofer, paver, mason, electrician or plumber responds to my next 1-800 service call. I don’t think boys will now become skilled tradespersons either since their fathers and even grandfathers don’t remember the purpose of any given tool. They are Information Technology specialists. Undocumented males are the only ones interested in becoming skilled tradespersons. And that, my friends, is a sad state of affairs.