Coffee heat rising

Your Taxpayer Dollars at…uhm… Work?

Oh, for heaven’s sake. Did you see PBS Newshour’s report on this astonishing proposal?

Okay, admittedly I read it very fast and maybe I’m missing something. But it looks like we’re talking about a gigantic welfare system that will give pretend jobs to the vast number of Americans who find themselves in an underclass that exists because jobs for the illiterate, the disadvantaged, and those who suffer from less innocent shortcomings have gone away and are not coming back. We imagine that the experience gained in this vocational welfare scheme will magically make participants more attractive to real-world employers.

The junior-college students who come shuffling into my classrooms — about 80 percent of whom are not there because they’re smart enough to have figured out how to keep their university loan burden down by taking core courses at low-rent institutions — those folks are on the high end of the body of Americans who can’t get jobs. This country has a huge underclass of people who simply are not qualified, for a variety of reasons, to get hired. Meet the best of this group, the ones who show up in my JC classes, and you’ll have an idea why.

Look. One in four Army applicants fails the entrance exams! And, my friends, that ain’t the half of it. Three in four are rejected because of physical unfitness, a criminal record, failure to graduate from high school, and the widespread chronic use of drugs like Ritalin for diagnosed ADHD.

Do you understand what that means? Typical word questions on the Army aptitude test look like this:

Function most nearly means:

(A) calculate
(B) exist
(C) operate

 It was a sturdy table.

(A) well-built
(B) ugly
(C) thick

That’s pretty hard. How about arithmetic, an even scarier subect?

If 1/3 of a 12-foot board is sawed off, how much is left?

(A) 4 feet
(B) 3 feet
(C) 8 feet
(D) 6 feet

At a cost of $1.25 per gallon, 15 gallons of gas will cost:

(A) $20.00
(B) $18.75
(C) $12.50
(D) $19.25

Hm. Pretty tough. Maybe we’ll do better on the science section, ’cause we read a lot of sci-fi comics… Okay, we don’t exactly read them, but we love to look at the pictures!

The earth completes one trip around the sun approximately every:

(A) 7 days
(B) 365 days
(C) 30 days
(D) 30 weeks

The ovaries produce:

(A) androgen
(B) estrogen
(C) adrenaline
(D) growth hormone

Would you trust your kids to a day-care center staffed by people who couldn’t answer questions like these? How about hiring a guy who can’t answer one of those math questions to run a table saw at your shop or heavy equipment at your construction site?

I have students — a lot of them — who could not pass a general science exam that contained ten questions like those you see here. And they’re the ones who probably could qualify for Army recruitment: most of them have finished high school, and, although they’re not good at readin’, writin’, and ’rithmetic, most of them can parse out the instructions on a bottle of aspirin. More or less.

That 75 percent of military applicants who are rejected are folks on the lower end, academically and socioeconomically, of student bodies in schools that ranked 14th out of 34 in reading among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, 17th in science, and 25th in mathematics.

 Indulge me while I repeat what I posted at the Newshour site:

When you neglect education for everyone and you also cultivate a large and growing underclass, what you can expect is what we have right now. Providing fake jobs for people who are unqualified for real paying work of any kind is not going to solve the problem.

{Pardon me for yelling, but I don’t think anyone is listening.}

What’s needed is a national education corps, with a competent leadership and a staff of teachers, master craftsmen, and trainers who know how (to the extent it’s possible) to meet the needs of this unemployed and unemployable group; and then to engage that corps a massive education campaign for low-SES youth and adults to build literacy, job skills, physical fitness, and social values among those who presently don’t qualify for employment.

An education system that could do those things would look like…what?

It would de-emphasize social work and re-emphasize the teaching of reading and fundamental math in the lower grades.

It would de-emphasize political correctness and re-emphasize social and moral values, possibly even hiring clergy in an effort to engage children, youth, and lost adults in concepts of basic decency (you remember: the Ten Commandments and all that?)

It would engage master craftsmen in the training of future workers for the trades, beginning at the middle-school level (anyone remember shop class?).

It would provide at least an hour a day of physical activity of the sort that appeals to and runs energy off of boys and young men; and, in addition to that hour, it would provide several 15- to 20-minute recess periods throughout the school day; and it would include an hour-long lunch break. Students at all grade levels would attend school no less than seven hours a day, five days a week. Adults undergoing vocational training would attend eight to ten hours a day.

It would include apprenticeships and internships in a wide variety of occupations.

It would include frequent, random drug testing and intensive therapy for those found to be using.

It would provide birth control for girls; education explaining how and why to use birth control; and frank indoctrination in a value system that discourages early pregnancy, trains girls to recognize desirable and undesirable characteristics in boys and men, and urges girls to build job skills and spend some time using them before spawning babies.

It would provide day care for parents in vocational training programs, and transportation for school-age children to and from their grade schools to the day care.

It would include a system to redeem and expunge a record of lesser criminal offenses in exchange for demonstrated mastery of specific literacy standards and job skills.

It would provide safe housing to shelter families living in violence-prone slums, with the requirement that residents abide by specific, strict guidelines of maintenance and behavior — sort of like an HOA. 😉

It would require university students to complete two years of vocational training before launching into their major course of undergraduate study.

Once we had a nominally educated potential workforce, we’d have to provide decently paying jobs for these workers. And yeah: those could be government and military jobs, if the private market couldn’t absorb that many low-end workers.

But let’s not put the cart before the horse.

7 thoughts on “Your Taxpayer Dollars at…uhm… Work?”

  1. I’d add a few things to this list.

    Health care (including mental health care and dental) — people who are ill or in pain due to physical, mental, or dental issues aren’t going to be productive.

    Training on sexual health and birth control practices should extend to boys and men, too. It takes both a male and a female to make a baby, and improper use of birth control happens with both partners. A woman may not be using her birth control effectively, for example, but if the male partner insisted on using a condom and knew how to do it properly, that drops the risk of unintended pregnancy significantly.

    Also, what is commonly called “the Golden Rule” covers as much moral territory as the ten commandments, and it is more culturally neutral than a Judeo-Christian story.

    • I like those suggestions. All of them. Especially the Golden Rule one.

      Studies show that one thing that keeps a specific population in poverty is a large number of households headed by unmarried mothers. In some US subcultures — not all of the same color, BTW — young girls actually aspire to become pregnant. They have no intention of marrying the men who sire their children, recognizing that few or none of said men can make a decent living. They don’t wanna be married; they just wanna have kids. In many cases, they want to have a family, but they don’t see the man as part of the family. And in many instances, they have good reason for that.

      We need to change that a) by convincing them otherwise; b) by training them in the several ways to subvert pregnancy; c) making those neglected young men marriageable.

      Amen to the health-care observation!

  2. I’d like to comment on the military first.
    Where do you get your facts from?
    This has been an all voluntary military since 1973 when the draft ended.

    Since that date, if you were there you wanted to be there, swimming in 50 degree water and crawling thru mud and blood.

    Your students are the products of the NEA, yeah that union that all these lousy teachers belong to.
    The junior-college students who come shuffling into my classrooms — about 80 percent of whom are not there because they’re smart enough to have figured out how to keep their university loan burden down by taking core courses at low-rent institutions

    Why, because their high school education failed them, they just passed them on until they graduated, then it was no longer their problem.

    Three members of my family have been educators, and I can’t tell you how well they were when they were educating our youths, but now they are enjoying or reaping the fruits of that retirement benefit.

    After high school and the NAVY I attended Regis.
    Regis is tough, they make you work any grade you get is a true grade.

    I can only say that the NEA only wants more money for their payroll
    and their retirement plan
    and they don’t a rats’s ass about the kid’s they are teaching.

    • Hi, George! Sorry I didn’t get back to the exchange in that earlier post…kinda lost track of things after the salad bug struck.

      Arizona is a right-to-work state. Teachers here are not unionized. If they tried to go on strike, they’d all be canned.

      Interestingly, in an Arizona university you can tell the difference between students who have gone through high school in the Midwest, where indeed schools are unionized, and those who spent 12 years in our state’s schools. A kid who went to school in, say, Ohio typically has much stronger skills in English and math.

      Arizona has historically neglected education, and the results are noticeable.

      Those Jesuits are great! My son went to a Jesuit high school; they did a pretty darned good job of eddycating him.

      My guess would be that back when we had a draft, a fair number of inductees were just as bat-brained as the ones who don’t get in today — the military had to accept them in those days, unless the person had a demonstrable mental problem or learning deficiency. But the services — especially ones like the Navy and the Air Force, where people would enlist to avoid being drafted into the Army infantry — were also taking in the best of our young men, ones who had graduated from universities or who were bright enough for sophisticated training to develop specific, much-needed skills.

  3. I have one more comment, those 75% OF MILITARY people you speak about are living in a two horse shit hole in Afghanistan ducking bullets every day, now who are you to even question what they do.

  4. When I got inducted in 1968 some of the people on that charted plane from Boston the Chicago (Great lakes Naval Training Center) were not normal, they were in fact mental defectives and crazy as loons.

    The flight was delayed due to weather, blizzard so they stuffed us into hotel rooms.

    The first thing that happened was finding out who was over 21 and could by some beer or yet some vodka. So money went into someones hat and a few guys traipsed down the stairs to find the nearest place to buy some alcohol.
    Half an hour later they came back, 8 cases of beer and 4 bottles of vodka. It was a hoot and a drunken discovery of man.
    We had people doing really crazy stuff, like spitting vodka from their mouths and trying to light with a match.

    One guy was so drunk he fell backwards out a 13 floor window and hit the ground like a hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

    My initiation with these mongrels was not going well.

    They were thinking ‘Country Joe and the Fish’
    Yeah, come on all of you, big strong men,
    Uncle Sam needs your help again.
    He’s got himself in a terrible jam
    Way down yonder in Vietnam
    So put down your books and pick up a gun,
    We’re gonna have a whole lotta fun.
    And it’s one, two, three,
    What are we fighting for ?
    Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
    Next stop is Vietnam;
    And it’s five, six, seven,
    Open up the pearly gates,
    Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
    Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.
    Well, come on generals, let’s move fast;
    Your big chance has come at last.
    Gotta go out and get those reds —
    The only good commie is the one who’s dead
    And you know that peace can only be won
    When we’ve blown ’em all to kingdom come.
    And it’s one, two, three,
    What are we fighting for ?
    Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
    Next stop is Vietnam;
    And it’s five, six, seven,
    Open up the pearly gates,
    Well there ain’t no time to wonder why
    Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.
    Well, come on Wall Street, don’t move slow,
    Why man, this is war au-go-go.
    There’s plenty good money to be made
    By supplying the Army with the tools of the trade,
    Just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
    They drop it on the Viet Cong.
    And it’s one, two, three,
    What are we fighting for ?
    Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
    Next stop is Vietnam.
    And it’s five, six, seven,
    Open up the pearly gates,
    Well there ain’t no time to wonder why
    Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.
    Well, come on mothers throughout the land,
    Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
    Come on fathers, don’t hesitate,
    Send ’em off before it’s too late.
    Be the first one on your block
    To have your boy come home in a box.
    And it’s one, two, three
    What are we fighting for ?
    Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
    Next stop is Vietnam.
    And it’s five, six, seven,
    Open up the pearly gates,
    Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
    Whoopee! we’re all gonna die

    I have been thinking about writing a book about 7 1/2 years in the NAVY or maybe a few hours on the phone with Robert Ludlum.

    I don’t know but, there is a reason I live in Pahrump Nevada, 60 miles from nowhere and 6 feet from Hell.

    Some people when they die got to heaven, others go to hell.

    I’ve already been to Hell and I can tell you, don’t go there.

    Good night Funny.

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