"more welders and less philosophers"

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Senator Marco Rubio really stepped in it during last night's debate:

For the life of me, I don't know why we have stigmatized vocational education. Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.

Driftglass responds:

First, it's "fewer" philosophers, not "less". Dumbass.

Second, the best manufacturers I know do indeed value their welders (who can pass a drug test. It's a thing)...and CNC operators...and mold-makers...who are also lateral thinkers that can evaluate weird, complex problems and work out creative solutions. You can study both. Dumbass.

You know what? It turns out lots of gainfully-employed people you may have heard about have studied philosophy along the way. Lots and lots.

Driftglass names Thomas Jefferson, Peter Thiel, Pope John Paul II, Albert Schweitzer, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Elie Wiesel. No doubt one could easily list many more. For more on Rubio's "massive debate fail," see this Salon piece by Avery Kolers:

Last night, as I listened to the Republican debate, I was surprised to hear my own profession called out by name. I am a professor of philosophy. Accordingly, I was taken aback when I heard Marco Rubio's assertion that welders make more than philosophers. This claim is false.

But even if it were true, it would not show, as Rubio seems to think it does, that our country needs more welders and fewer philosophers. For that supposes that the social worth of a profession tracks the market price it commands in the current economy. And this too is false.

"It is false for at least two reasons," Kolers explains:

First, it is false because current market prices are distorted by a wide range of diseconomies that have funneled virtually all gains from the recovery into the pockets of the wealthiest Americans. The US economy shovels massive externalities - costs and risks that fall on those who don't incur them - onto working people, future generations, and the natural environment, while the wealthy few hoard the benefits.

"But even if we made it so that rich people could not offload costs onto poor people," Kolers continues, "it would still not be the case that the social worth of a profession would be determined by the price its members could command on a market:"

A market economy is a tool for securing human welfare and promoting human freedom. It may or may not be effective at those things, but either way, that's what it is: a tool. Sadly, the contemporary Republican Party has elevated that tool into a religion, bowing before it and disparaging those who don't.

We need some philosophers to scrutinize that religion's dogmas, and we need some welders to help dismantle its gaudy temples.

And we need to pay both the philosophers and the welders a living wage.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on November 11, 2015 10:02 PM.

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