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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mike Rowe And Skilled Labor: Obama Ignored Him, Romney Embraces The Hard 'Dirty Jobs' Worker

By Susan Duclos

Mike Rowe from a TV show called Dirty Jobs wrote an open letter to Barack Obama in 2009 but never heard back from him and at the beginning of September, he wrote an open letter to Mitt Romney, discussing the same topic,the importance of hard work and skilled labor, and now Mr. Rowe will be joining Romney in Ohio on the campaign trail.

From the letter after introducing himself:

In each case, I shared my theory that most of these “problems” were in fact symptoms of something more fundamental – a change in the way Americans viewed hard work and skilled labor. That’s the essence of what I’ve heard from the hundreds of men and women I’ve worked with on Dirty Jobs. Pig farmers, electricians, plumbers, bridge painters, jam makers, blacksmiths, brewers, coal miners, carpenters, crab fisherman, oil drillers…they all tell me the same thing over and over, again and again – our country has become emotionally disconnected from an essential part of our workforce.  We are no longer impressed with cheap electricity, paved roads, and indoor plumbing. We take our infrastructure for granted, and the people who build it.
Today, we can see the consequences of this disconnect in any number of areas, but none is more obvious than the growing skills gap. Even as unemployment remains sky high, a whole category of vital occupations has fallen out of favor, and companies struggle to find workers with the necessary skills. The causes seem clear. We have embraced a ridiculously narrow view of education. Any kind of training or study that does not come with a four-year degree is now deemed “alternative.” Many viable careers once aspired to are now seen as “vocational consolation prizes,” and many of the jobs this current administration has tried to “create” over the last four years are the same jobs that parents and teachers actively discourage kids from pursuing. (I always thought there was something ill-fated about the promise of three million “shovel ready jobs” made to a society that no longer encourages people to pick up a shovel.)
Which brings me to my purpose in writing. On Labor Day of 2008, the fans of Dirty Jobs helped me launch this website. began as a Trade Resource Center designed to connect kids with careers in the skilled trades. It has since evolved into a non-profit foundation – a kind of PR Campaign for hard work and skilled labor.
Thanks to a number of strategic partnerships, I have been able to promote a dialogue around these issues with a bit more credibility than my previous resume allowed. I’ve spoken to Congress (twice) about the need to confront the underlying stigmas and stereotypes that surround these kinds of jobs. Alabama and Georgia have both used mikeroweWORKS to launch their own statewide technical recruitment campaigns, and I’m proud to be the spokesman for both initiatives. I also work closely with Caterpillar, Ford, Kimberly-Clark, and Master Lock, as well as The Boy Scouts of America and The Future Farmers of America. To date, the mikeroweWORKS Foundation has raised over a million dollars for trade scholarships. It’s modest by many standards, but I think we’re making a difference.
Certainly, we need more jobs, and you were clear about that in Tampa. But the Skills Gap proves that we need something else too.  We need people who see opportunity where opportunity exists. We need enthusiasm for careers that have been overlooked and underappreciated by society at large. We need to have a really big national conversation about what we value in the workforce, and if I can be of help to you in that regard, I am at your service – assuming of course, you find yourself in a new address early next year.
To be clear, mikeroweWORKS has no political agenda. I am not an apologist for Organized Labor or for Management. mikeroweWORKS is concerned only with encouraging a larger appreciation for skilled labor, and supporting those kids who are willing to learn a skill.
Good luck in November. And thanks for your time.
Mike Rowe
PS. In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that I wrote a similar letter to President Obama. Of course, that was four years ago, and since I never heard back, I believe proper etiquette allows me to extend the same offer to you now. I figure if I post it here, the odds are better that someone you know might send it along to your attention.
 By extending the invitation to Mr. Rowe to join him in Ohio, Mitt Romney has shown he understands the value and importance of the message Rowe is trying to generate, the importance of hard work, skilled labor and people who see opportunity where opportunity exists and grab onto it.

By ignoring Mr. Rowe in 2009, Obama has shown he does not.

Via Desert News:

On Sept. 6, Rick Gorka, press secretary for Romney, tweeted a photo of Romney reading the Rowe letter on his iPad, saying, "Gov catching up on news after debate prep, incl. an interesting letter about skilled labor from @MikeRoweWorks."

Rowe responded with a tweeted photo showing him pointing at the photo of Romney, along with the observation, "Holy crap! He read it . . ."

We have all read it now Mr. Rowe. Kudos for writing it and kudos to Romney for reading it and inviting Mr. Rowe onto the national stage with him.

 Jim Treacher at The Daily Caller responds to the letter after the line (I always thought there was something ill-fated about the promise of three million “shovel ready jobs” made to a society that no longer encourages people to pick up a shovel.)

Which is why you have had Occupy children gathering in cities across America, screaming about not being able to get their dream job right out of college, to pay for a degree nobody needs. Which is why so many people think they’re victims who can’t do anything for themselves, and then pretend to be offended when somebody points out that they think they’re victims who can’t do anything for themselves. Which is why Obama is promising you everything under the sun, so you can be just like “Julia.”

There is a class war going on and it is not between  the rich and the poor, it is between those that understand hard work, where ever you can get it, and those that think everything should be offered up on a platter without having to work their butts off to get.