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Subject: What's the answer to blue-collar woe? rss

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Matt Thrower
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So: Trump. I don't want to go there, not least because discussion with a bunch of strangers seems unlikely to be productive.

Whatever your feelings on Trump or Brexit, there seems a solid consensus, with some evidence to back it up, that they're the result of a hollowing out of blue-collar jobs across the West. Work that's either disappeared or been devalued both economically and socially.

Again, whatever you feel about the results, let's be charitable and presume you see their plight as problematic. The misery of poverty applies whatever your gender, race or political belief.

What, then, do we do about this? Trump talked a bunch of moonshine about bringing these sorts of jobs back to America, but in the global age the economy doesn't work like that any more. There's not a lot of coal left to dig up, and no market for it if you do. Companies that went overseas to cut costs aren't going to come running back. Trade tariffs cut both ways.

You could improve pay and conditions by legislation, but wind that crank too much and more businesses are just going to leave. You could borrow and invest in infrastructure - that's always useful - but that's handing more money and power to the banks and other financial institutions who are already calling the shots, and whose greed got us here in the first place.

I don't know much about economics or politics, but I have yet to see anyone, anywhere actually offer concrete solutions to this problem. That's scary, because right now it looks like it has the potential to eat us all whole if we don't so something about it. What?

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Shawn Fox
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I don't think there is a solution. The modern economy requires education and these 50+ year old men who are so bitter they would vote a racist, homophobic, misogynist, near fascist into office are too old to retrain themselves for a new career.

The political solution is to either wait for them to die or bribe them by putting them on the dole. The only jobs most of them are qualified to do is working at mcdonalds or walmart and most of them have too much pride to go that route or accept it as the truth.
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I live in Ohio. I grew up with blue collar kids in high school. Members of my family are in blue collar jobs. So yes, I am very sympathetic.

But the loss of well-paid manufacturing jobs isn't something that can be reversed with a piece of legislation. First, the US is manufacturing more stuff than ever before, so the idea that manufacturing has been hollowed out is incorrect.

However, this stuff is being manufactured with fewer people on the factory floor, thanks to computerization and robotics.

One thing that might have helped a bit would have been stronger unions. But anti-union forces in the country have succeeded in demonizing them to the extent that even many people who would BENEFIT from them oppose them.

I'm a bit at a loss. One thing for sure - Trump's economic policies will end up hurting working class people (many of whom are not white BTW though this seems to get lost in discussions about helping the working class...) and benefiting the wealthy. Tax cuts will accrue to the higher end and social programs that help middle class and poor people will be cut. In this way, Trump is a standard Republican.
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Shawn Fox
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wifwendell wrote:
I live in Ohio. I grew up with blue collar kids in high school. Members of my family are in blue collar jobs. So yes, I am very sympathetic.

But the loss of well-paid manufacturing jobs isn't something that can be reversed with a piece of legislation. First, the US is manufacturing more stuff than ever before, so the idea that manufacturing has been hollowed out is incorrect.

However, this stuff is being manufactured with fewer people on the factory floor, thanks to computerization and robotics.

One thing that might have helped a bit would have been stronger unions. But anti-union forces in the country have succeeded in demonizing them to the extent that even many people who would BENEFIT from them oppose them.

I'm a bit at a loss. One thing for sure - Trump's economic policies will end up hurting working class people (many of whom are not white BTW though this seems to get lost in discussions about helping the working class...) and benefiting the wealthy. Tax cuts will accrue to the higher end and social programs that help middle class and poor people will be cut. In this way, Trump is a standard Republican.

Unions are what made the problem worse. The automobile companies were trying to automate production but the unions fought it, so the automobile companies just opened new factories in Texas, Georgia, etc without the strong union rules. If not for the unions, those jobs will still be in the rust belt. Fewer of them than there used to be obviously, but at least they would have something.
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Wendell
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sfox wrote:

Unions are what made the problem worse. The automobile companies were trying to automate production but the unions fought it, so the automobile companies just opened new factories in Texas, Georgia, etc without the strong union rules. If not for the unions, those jobs will still be in the rust belt. Fewer of them than there used to be obviously, but at least they would have something.


I don't think you can solely blame it on unions. Various manufacturers relocated south because they could get cheaper labor there and (in some instances) it was cheaper to build new plants than refurbish old ones. It's more complicated than solely blaming it on unions.
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Rebecca Carpenter
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Seriously good trade schools.

Combined with employers who take trade schools seriously. Not every Joe and Joanna needs a well-rounded higher education and the debt that goes with it.

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MattDP wrote:
So: Trump. I don't want to go there, not least because discussion with a bunch of strangers seems unlikely to be productive.

Whatever your feelings on Trump or Brexit, there seems a solid consensus, with some evidence to back it up, that they're the result of a hollowing out of blue-collar jobs across the West. Work that's either disappeared or been devalued both economically and socially.

Again, whatever you feel about the results, let's be charitable and presume you see their plight as problematic. The misery of poverty applies whatever your gender, race or political belief.

What, then, do we do about this? Trump talked a bunch of moonshine about bringing these sorts of jobs back to America, but in the global age the economy doesn't work like that any more. There's not a lot of coal left to dig up, and no market for it if you do. Companies that went overseas to cut costs aren't going to come running back. Trade tariffs cut both ways.

You could improve pay and conditions by legislation, but wind that crank too much and more businesses are just going to leave. You could borrow and invest in infrastructure - that's always useful - but that's handing more money and power to the banks and other financial institutions who are already calling the shots, and whose greed got us here in the first place.

I don't know much about economics or politics, but I have yet to see anyone, anywhere actually offer concrete solutions to this problem. That's scary, because right now it looks like it has the potential to eat us all whole if we don't so something about it. What?


People here think I'm a loon, but we need to start by scrapping the old economic theories that are based on the gold standard and replace them with something like MMT [Modern Money Theory]. MMT is formulated by real Profs. of economics. It seems like Republicans use MMT when a Republican is Pers. but go back to the old 'gold standard' economics when a Dem is Pres. So, it seems like they know what is really going on. MMT is pushing a "JP" [jobs program] where the Fed. Gov. hires everyone who wants to work at some wage on the order of $13/hr. and then finds something productive that they can do. The Gov. also can create jobs by spending on infrastructure. This causes comp. to hire workers.

Google MMT and Wray to get to the MMT Primmer and read that. Sir, you asked what can be done? At least look at MMT.

Take a close look at trade barriers or tariffs. Why shouldn't imported shirts be taxed to help pay retired people Soc. Sec. when the jobs making the shirts are no longer held by Americans who pay into SS?

Recently I had a thought. Why not have the Society set goals of what each quartile should earn and have as an average net worth. With the top quintile further divided into 5 more levels. Then set tax policy to move toward those goals.

Here in Thailand (note I was born in Kansas) they have an "equilibrium" in money flow going. Money naturally flows up into the hands of the rich. So, the Gov. taxes a big chunk of it away from the rich and distributes it back into the economy by buying stuff, paying Gov. workers, and direct payments to the old and poor. Then the money flows back up into the hands of the rich, where we started. It goes round and round. Everyone gets a piece of the action.

[If the rich leave, let them go we don't need them. We can replace the cash they have with just some cost in inflation. If they leave they should not be able to keep their assets in the US except T-bills. They would have to find Americans to buy them. If they can't get full value, too bad for them.]

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CoffeeRunner wrote:
Seriously good trade schools.

Combined with employers who take trade schools seriously. Not every Joe and Joanna needs a well-rounded higher education and the debt that goes with it.

That isn't going to fix the problem for the people that voted for Trump. It wasn't the 22 year olds that voted for him, it was the 50+ crowd. when they were young jobs were plentiful for the uneducated man who would show up every day and drive a forklift or turn a wrench on an assembly line. Those jobs are all gone now, replaced by automation or where that isn't possible, moved to areas where the labor rate is far less than needed to live on here in the US.

It really is hopeless for those men, their jobs aren't coming back no matter who the president is. They are not the majority of the voters who showed up this week, but they were the ones who don't usually vote and they kept Trump afloat despite his despicable character. They aren't going to be any happier 4 years from now. It isn't possible for the governmetn to create jobs for them. They are now superfluous and they live in areas of the country that are superfluous.

I'm not saying that as some liberal elitist who doesn't give a shit about them, I'm saying it as a guy who understands the economy and the data. We can't fix it here, they can't fix it in the UK, they can't fix it in Germany. The best we can do is get them jobs in the service industry. Wal-mart, McDonalds, etc. Those are the types of jobs that exist now for the uneducated. We don't need what they've got and they can't go to college for 4 years to learn what the economy needs.

The younger generation, we need to get them into school and teach them trades. That won't solve the problem completely, but it will help. That is what Bernie wanted to do. Free community college education. Plumbers, electricians, police, nurses, etc. We badly need people to do those jobs, but we need them in the cities, not out in rural america. There are no more jobs out there. The support jobs that I talked about above, they only exist in the areas where the educated live, in the cities.

So if these people won't move, if they won't go to school to learn the trades, what are we supposed to do to help? What can we do other than just put them on welfare benefits?
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Rebecca Carpenter
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sfox wrote:
CoffeeRunner wrote:
Seriously good trade schools.

Combined with employers who take trade schools seriously. Not every Joe and Joanna needs a well-rounded higher education and the debt that goes with it.

That isn't going to fix the problem for the people that voted for Trump. It wasn't the 22 year olds that voted for him, it was the 50+ crowd. when they were young jobs were plentiful for the uneducated man who would show up every day and drive a forklift or turn a wrench on an assembly line. Those jobs are all gone now, replaced by automation or where that isn't possible, moved to areas where the labor rate is far less than needed to live on here in the US.

It really is hopeless for those men, their jobs aren't coming back no matter who the president is. They are not the majority of the voters who showed up this week, but they were the ones who don't usually vote and they kept Trump afloat despite his despicable character. They aren't going to be any happier 4 years from now. It isn't possible for the governmetn to create jobs for them. They are now superfluous and they live in areas of the country that are superfluous.

I'm not saying that as some liberal elitist who doesn't give a shit about them, I'm saying it as a guy who understands the economy and the data. We can't fix it here, they can't fix it in the UK, they can't fix it in Germany. The best we can do is get them jobs in the service industry. Wal-mart, McDonalds, etc. Those are the types of jobs that exist now for the uneducated. We don't need what they've got and they can't go to college for 4 years to learn what the economy needs.

The younger generation, we need to get them into school and teach them trades. That won't solve the problem completely, but it will help. That is what Bernie wanted to do. Free community college education. Plumbers, electricians, police, nurses, etc. We badly need people to do those jobs, but we need them in the cities, not out in rural america. There are no more jobs out there. The support jobs that I talked about above, they only exist in the areas where the educated live, in the cities.

So if these people won't move, if they won't go to school to learn the trades, what are we supposed to do to help? What can we do other than just put them on welfare benefits?


Fair points regarding age/location.

Basic income? Negative taxes?
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Rebecca Carpenter
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Actually I think I just figured it out.

We could pay them not to vote.

(Didn't Clinton lose the white educated male vote too though? Can exit polls be trusted?)
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Oliver Dienz
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sfox wrote:
wifwendell wrote:
I live in Ohio. I grew up with blue collar kids in high school. Members of my family are in blue collar jobs. So yes, I am very sympathetic.

But the loss of well-paid manufacturing jobs isn't something that can be reversed with a piece of legislation. First, the US is manufacturing more stuff than ever before, so the idea that manufacturing has been hollowed out is incorrect.

However, this stuff is being manufactured with fewer people on the factory floor, thanks to computerization and robotics.

One thing that might have helped a bit would have been stronger unions. But anti-union forces in the country have succeeded in demonizing them to the extent that even many people who would BENEFIT from them oppose them.

I'm a bit at a loss. One thing for sure - Trump's economic policies will end up hurting working class people (many of whom are not white BTW though this seems to get lost in discussions about helping the working class...) and benefiting the wealthy. Tax cuts will accrue to the higher end and social programs that help middle class and poor people will be cut. In this way, Trump is a standard Republican.

Unions are what made the problem worse. The automobile companies were trying to automate production but the unions fought it, so the automobile companies just opened new factories in Texas, Georgia, etc without the strong union rules. If not for the unions, those jobs will still be in the rust belt. Fewer of them than there used to be obviously, but at least they would have something.

Would that not mean that the jobs would still be in the rust belt but the South would have the unemployment? Not to mention that the constant attack on unions has certainly contributed to the rising inequality.

It is pretty obvious that we can produce tons of stuff and everyone here can have a good living. People are not homeless or hungry because there are not enough houses or food around. The problem is the unequal distribution of that output. We need to get wages more equal, reduce the gains from capital income to improve the labor share, bring trade back into balance, prepare for the future by investing in research while preserving the (limited) resources we have. We can also easily fix and improve our infrastructure. The benefits of the financial sector for society are vastly overstated and therefore it should be curbed (financial transaction tax, state banks etc.).

Some ideas for policy proposals can be found here:
http://cepr.net/documents/Getting-Back-to-Full-Employment_20...
http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2012/04/the-political-pat...
http://www.gpn.org/bp191.html
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/11/stiglitz...
https://www.amazon.com/Getting-Back-Full-Employment-Bargain/...
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CoffeeRunner wrote:
Seriously good trade schools.

Combined with employers who take trade schools seriously. Not every Joe and Joanna needs a well-rounded higher education and the debt that goes with it.



The false belief by everyone, workers and employers alike, that a person needs a college education to be a productive member of society is definitely a contributing factor to our problems.

I say this as a university professor.
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dkearns wrote:
CoffeeRunner wrote:
Seriously good trade schools.

Combined with employers who take trade schools seriously. Not every Joe and Joanna needs a well-rounded higher education and the debt that goes with it.



The false belief by everyone, workers and employers alike, that a person needs a college education to be a productive member of society is definitely a contributing factor to our problems.

I say this as a university professor.


The Imperialist Ruling Classes must not have a monopoly on Higher Education.
Nevertheless, the Blood-sucking Slave-Masters will happily send their brood to College, if only to permit time for "maturation".
 
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CoffeeRunner wrote:
(Didn't Clinton lose the white educated male vote too though? Can exit polls be trusted?)

That vote was pretty close, and I can respect the reasons why many men refuse to vote for the Democrats. The Democrats have spent years blaming the white man for all of the world's problems. No one should find it surprising that a lot of them vote against the Democrats due to that. I get pretty sick of the white man's guilt bullshit myself.

In any case, that divide has always been there, it isn't new. The divide is growing between male/female voting patterns in general (women vote democrat, men vote republican). That is true regardless of education level. Hillary was down 5% in the male vote compared to Obama, but only up 1% in the female vote. I'm pretty sure most of that difference vs 2012 is misogyny. There are a lot of men out there who could never accept a female president. I'm not saying it is true of all men who voted for Trump, just that it was a significant factor for a lot of the men who switched from Democrat to Republican this election, whether they will admit it (or even realize it) or not. I've seen that same attitude in the workplace before, where some men rebel against taking orders or advice from women. Again, not all of them, but I do believe it was factor for enough men to shift the election from Hillary to Trump. All it takes to change the outcome of the election is for 2 or 3% of men to shift their vote based on it.
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dkearns wrote:
CoffeeRunner wrote:
Seriously good trade schools.

Combined with employers who take trade schools seriously. Not every Joe and Joanna needs a well-rounded higher education and the debt that goes with it.



The false belief by everyone, workers and employers alike, that a person needs a college education to be a productive member of society is definitely a contributing factor to our problems.

I say this as a university professor.

I don't disagree with you at all. That said, if an employer is faced with a decision between hiring a guy who dropped out of school and hiring a guy who finished school, the logical choice is to hire the guy that finished. Why would anyone want to hire someone who doesn't have the ability to go to class every day,do their homework, and power through it even if they don't like it?

That is what school really is. It isn't about what you learned, it is proof that you can learn, that you can do things that you don't enjoy because you have to do them. People who drop out of school are, on average, lower quality workers than those who don't.

Hell we have the internet now, you can learn anything you need to know if you are willing and have the discipline. That said, a sheepskin is an easy way to prove to an employer that you know what you are doing.
 
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sfox wrote:
dkearns wrote:
CoffeeRunner wrote:
Seriously good trade schools.

Combined with employers who take trade schools seriously. Not every Joe and Joanna needs a well-rounded higher education and the debt that goes with it.



The false belief by everyone, workers and employers alike, that a person needs a college education to be a productive member of society is definitely a contributing factor to our problems.

I say this as a university professor.

I don't disagree with you at all. That said, if an employer is faced with a decision between hiring a guy who dropped out of school and hiring a guy who finished school, the logical choice is to hire the guy that finished. Why would anyone want to hire someone who doesn't have the ability to go to class every day,do their homework, and power through it even if they don't like it?


FYI, my class is 120 students and only about ~40 (33%) show up to each class.

Also, my University, and many other Universities have all but stopped teaching classes on Fridays. Did you know that?

This is encouraged (tacitly permitted) by the University administration. The goal of the modern business oriented University is to sell diplomas. Here's what sell's diplomas: sports teams, fraternities, and yes, three day weekends. Most professors hate this and do their best every day to educate. Just be aware that the modern purpose of the University is to make money, not education.
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dkearns wrote:
sfox wrote:
dkearns wrote:
CoffeeRunner wrote:
Seriously good trade schools.

Combined with employers who take trade schools seriously. Not every Joe and Joanna needs a well-rounded higher education and the debt that goes with it.



The false belief by everyone, workers and employers alike, that a person needs a college education to be a productive member of society is definitely a contributing factor to our problems.

I say this as a university professor.

I don't disagree with you at all. That said, if an employer is faced with a decision between hiring a guy who dropped out of school and hiring a guy who finished school, the logical choice is to hire the guy that finished. Why would anyone want to hire someone who doesn't have the ability to go to class every day,do their homework, and power through it even if they don't like it?


FYI, my class is 120 students and only about ~40 (33%) show up to each class.

Also, my University, and many other Universities have all but stopped teaching classes on Fridays. Did you know that?

This is encouraged (tacitly permitted) by the University administration. The goal of the modern business oriented University is to sell diplomas. Here's what sell's diplomas: sports teams, fraternities, and yes, three day weekends. Most professors hate this and do their best every day to educate. Just be aware that the modern purpose of the University is to make money, not education.

Some universities are better than others for sure. I hope you don't teach at Indiana University, that used to be a good school. I used to work with a guy that graduated from there, really sharp dude.
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dkearns wrote:
The false belief by everyone, workers and employers alike, that a person needs a college education to be a productive member of society is definitely a contributing factor to our problems.

I say this as a university professor.


I think from an economic perspective this is pretty accurate, because you don't need a college edcation to be a plumber or skilled tradesworker or what have you and be "productive" in an economic sense.

I think from a societal perspective it's mostly wrong, because at this point university is the best tool for teaching people to understand and accept the idea that different life paths/backgrounds/etc. can be valid - to say nothing of the fact that basic civics education at the pre-university level is mostly a nonstarter, and a lack of civics education is one of the major issues with electorates the first world over. These forms of education have to come somewhere and right now university is it, unless you radically rethink primary education.
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dkearns wrote:
FYI, my class is 120 students and only about ~40 (33%) show up to each class.

Although to be honest, I never showed up to class either. I couldn't say how many others did, only how many people were there for the exams, and this was 20 years ago, so that isn't anything new.

Getting a degree still takes a certain amount of persistence (or intelligence). Even if the tests aren't very difficult, you still have to study for them, you still have to be able to keep your shit together long enough to pass. I always felt like the difficult level was set a bit low in most classes. Low enough for the hard working 100 IQ students to make Bs and the 120+ IQ students could get Bs without putting in much effort.
 
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As others have said

Push Trade Schools and embrace those who work with their hands. Hell, one of the smartest things that Trump could do would give Mike Rowe a call and put him on some kind of task force.

Coupled with an education campaign/push in popular culture to glamorize some of the "dirty jobs" rather than hackers, lawyers and doctors (which using my unscientific analysis is 95% of Network Television)
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sfox wrote:

Some universities are better than others for sure. I hope you don't teach at Indiana University, that used to be a good school. I used to work with a guy that graduated from there, really sharp dude.


I do teach at Indiana University and it is a great place to get an education, particularly in my section of Microbiology. What I'm saying is that the motivation of the professorship and the motivation of the administration are different and at odds with one another.

Further, getting an education and getting a college degree are not the same thing.

In my opinion, and in my experience, the students who don't go to class and only study for the exam are typically not educated in that material.

I have no use for an A student who doesn't give a shit.
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A good safety net helps, too. Get rid of the causes of people dropping from making small gains consistently to being wiped out. You want to keep people on that slow rise, so they can see small gains as meaningful rather than focusing on being one extra burden away from penury. I think of single payer health care and paid parental leave much like Social Security--because they don't specifically target the poor or lower middle class, the political scapegoating of those groups won't undermine them, but they'll still make the biggest difference to those people.
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Oliver Dienz
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mightygodking wrote:

I think from a societal perspective it's mostly wrong, because at this point university is the best tool for teaching people to understand and accept the idea that different life paths/backgrounds/etc. can be valid - to say nothing of the fact that basic civics education at the pre-university level is mostly a nonstarter, and a lack of civics education is one of the major issues with electorates the first world over. These forms of education have to come somewhere and right now university is it, unless you radically rethink primary education.

Granted, I am from a different country but I learned those issues in school (and life, of course). University was all about my chosen field in the natural sciences; there were no social/civic studies to speak of.

The problem in US primary education is that many parents only want their children to be educated in civics/social studies that conform to their beliefs. Just a few weeks ago at curriculum night my son's teacher talked about having a class about the election. I recommended that also third party candidates (such as Jill Stein and Gary Johnson) should be included to give the kids the full spectrum of political opinions that are out there. Some parents were looking at me like I am some nutjob. Still, I want that the kids make up their own mind which candidate will move the country forward and improve the livelihood of all citizens even when that includes some fringe ideas. To have an informed citizen you cannot restrict access to information.
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Mike Stiles
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CoffeeRunner wrote:
Seriously good trade schools.

Combined with employers who take trade schools seriously. Not every Joe and Joanna needs a well-rounded higher education and the debt that goes with it.



And kids that don't see trade schools as a stigma.
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