My friend Bob wrote a note today and it got me to thinking about a question again that I thought about when I was in Grad School when I worked with the homeless, the mentally ill, and their kids. My question then was, for lack of a better phrase, “What are we going to do with the “dumb” people?”
I hear all the time that the new jobs are going to be in high-tech or computer this-or-that and that all the other jobs are going to be in “service” — or retail. In addition, I hear all the time that a College Degree is required “or you get nowhere”.
But I work with people, or meet people all the time, that simply aren’t intellectual, aren’t good at school, and never will be. What do we do with them? In the old days, if you dropped out of school or weren’t interested in it, you could find work at a factory, or as a mechanic, or at a trade, or as a farmer. And if something happened where you lost your intellect (car accident, health crisis, drug abuse, trauma), what should you do then?
Now there aren’t as many factory jobs, you have to use computers and gizmos to fix a car (screwdrivers and such don’t work anymore), and fewer and fewer people know a trade. So what do we do with these people? We can’t just let them die. We don’t want to pay for them to live. We can’t figure out how to make meaning of their lives. In addition, people are living longer, so now we have a longer time for them to hang around on the planet with nothing to do with their lives.
And if they’re going to do “service” jobs — McDonalds, WalMart, etc, should they HAVE TO work 60 hours per week to feed their kids? Where is the new factory job, the new skill that can be done with the hands, the new craft or trade that gives people something to do all day?
Like all the “smart” people, in my estimation, they (the below-average intelligence people or manual laborers) are created by God and have a mission in life. What that is, however, I don’t have a clue. They also have kids to raise and families to deal with. They, too, want homes to call their own. What will they do with their lives if there’s nothing for them to do?
As our country tries to answer the questions supposedly raised by the electorate, “How do we create jobs?”, I want to also ask, “What jobs can we create for people if we keep raising the standards they need to meet? And I’m not blaming our educational system — better education and more education is not the answer for people who can’t understand or aren’t good at or aren’t inclined to get an education. So now what?
I don’t have an answer, by the way. I only have a question. I would love to have an answer. Any suggestions?