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Are Factory Workers Mindless Drones Who Need “Smart People” to Tell Them What to Do?

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I recently listened to a podcast that featured an interview with a scientist. The scientist extolled the virtue of education, especially science education. Everyone needs to think like a scientist, the thinking went. If not, they will end up working mindless jobs in factories. Such people don’t think for themselves. They want or need overlords to tell them what to do.

The scientist quickly caught himself, saying “not that working in a factory is bad.” In my mind, that was too little, too late. His statement revealed a bias that is common among “educated” people. Such people typically have no real-world experience with factory work. Had they any experience working the line at a factory, they never would have made such an asinine statement.

Instead of demeaning factory workers, how about valuing the work they do? Without them, our country would come to a standstill. If everyone was a scientist doing “cool” stuff, we would all die and our world would become uninhabitable. Look around your home, car, and businesses you frequent. Imagine what things would look like without factory workers (or other workers lacking college educations).

Polly, along with our oldest and youngest sons, works for a large local manufacturing concern. Both Polly and Jason have worked for the company for over twenty-five years. Jason started in groundskeeping and is now a mid-level manager. Polly is a shift manager for auxiliary services. Both are paid well and have good benefits. None of them works “mindless” jobs. Can factory work be monotonous? Sure, but don’t think for a moment that manufacturing jobs require employees to check their brains at the door. If factory work isn’t your cup of tea, fine. But, don’t demean people who play an essential part in the building and progress of our country.

One interesting side note is the fact that way too many people follow the scientist’s advice. They go to college, graduate with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and enter the workforce, thinking they will easily find a job in their chosen profession. And when they don’t, what do they do? They end up working the very jobs the aforementioned scientist disparaged. Scores of people with associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees work factory jobs. Why? They quickly find out that they can make more money working in a factory than they can working in their chosen professions. This is especially true for people with social science or education degrees. Polly went back to college, thinking she might want to work in a different field. She quickly learned that the jobs that would be available to her upon graduation would pay $6-$8 less an hour than what she was making in the factory at the time.

I see this same kind of thinking when society belittles rural people. We are just a bunch of low-life, uneducated hillbillies. Yet without us — and I gladly own my tribe — those deprecating us would starve. By all means, city folks, grow your own crops, raise your own livestock. 🙂 Let me know how that works out for you. You need us even if you don’t like us.

When you feel that people look down on you and view you as less than, what do you do? You look for people and groups that accept and respect you (even if they do so for political reasons as Trump and the Republicans are doing). Yes, rural people tend to vote against their own interests. What is never asked is WHY? Why has the Democratic Party lost rural America? Perhaps one of the reasons is that rural folks have been listening to what Democratic leaders say about them. “Oh they want our votes, but they think we are stupid hicks, deplorables, or dangerous gun owners.” None of us like to be talked down to, to be demeaned for who and what we are. We have now reached a point where rural people are outraged over how the government in general mistreats them. Sure, some of their outrage is misinformed, but much of it is not. Until Democrats shut the hell up and LISTEN, they will continue to suffer election losses.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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    Amen to that. Good liberals don’t want to hear this. It’s too much fun trading insults with Trumpers who proudly wear insults as badges of honor. My husband’s best friend is very conservative and religious, but not a Trump supporter. He is fed up with both parties. We remain friends because we focus on things other than politics, and agree to disagree. Many of my followers on Twitter refuse to try and get to know their religious and conservative neighbors, condemning them as lost to bigotry.
    Sadly, too many communities are being pushed apart by extreme politics. Liberals are just as guilty.

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    Before I went to college I spent one year working in a factory. That was a very good experience. Everybody needs to know how to work with their hands and build things. I later went to college and became an engineer. I find that my experience in the factory gave me great insights into life.

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    That was a really pompous-ass thing for that scientist to say.

    I am a VP of a company, and throughout my career I have worked in the lab, manufacturing, customer service, sales, product development, QC, regulatory – the only things I haven’t done are accounting and marketing. People need skills to do these jobs; each is important; none is “better than” another (unless you personally hate doing a certain type of job).

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I worked several factory jobs as a young man. Most of them paid well; several were good union jobs. I found the work monotonous, so I looked for jobs that appealed to my Energizer Bunny, Type A personality. That’s why I started managing restaurants. I took a 40% pay cut to do so. 2 years later I was making what I made in the factory.

      To some agree, I still hang on to the Calvinist work ethic. Work is good and we should value and respect the work of others. I despise class warfare (one reason I’m a socialist).

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        Yulya Sevelova

        That scientist in the podcast betrayed his naivete’ and ignorance of the truth that manufacturing drives a country’s economy ! Once our jobs went overseas, our living standards dropped and bored youths didn’t have a job to look forward to if they weren’t skilled in computing or the math- oriented careers. No future but fast food, the military,ad nauseam. Placing people into the cross hairs of Neoliberalism. Wasn’t this first launched around 42 years ago ? Does this egghead really think that America is better off without it’s once- admired manufacturing base ??

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    Karen the rock whisperer

    I am a big fan of learning scientific thinking, it helps immeasurably in life, regardless of what kind of job you do. It is a mindset, and has nothing to do with studying in the sciences. It is a tool for cutting through woo.

    Being partially disabled and finding shopping difficult, my Amazon, UPS, and FedEx drivers are my heroes. So are the folks who package the stuff I buy. So are the hardworking proprietors of the small businesses that can only offer their wares to me because of the internet. I grew up in a small family business, I get it.

    Being able to put food on the table for yourself and your family is way more important in life than being brilliant in anything.

    I got my MS degree late in life, finished in my 50s, and a couple of my professors were pompous jerks. (They were exceptions in the department.) But they were Big Ass Scientists, and their students were peons. They were brilliant at what they did, and I learned a lot in those classes, but still. A PhD is not a sign that someone has figured out how to be a decent human being.

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    MJ Lisbeth

    Until I was about 20, my father worked in a factory. So did most of the men in my family. He discouraged me and my siblings for such work, not because they thought being a white-collar professional was “better,” but they understood how dangerous and monotonous factory work can be. Also, as a general rule, most white-collar work paid better–at least after a few years in the white-collar field. And, in those days, you didn’t have to live a life of servitude to financial services companies in order to go to college. (I had scholarships and the US Army Reserve, so cost was even less of an issue for me.)

    About guns: I’m not keen on them myself. But, having spent some time among rural folks, I understand why they want firearms. For one thing, if they live far outside the city, the police or other first responders might not arrive in time to help. But I also learned that guns help some people who live in the country (or even in “rust belt” cities) keep meat in their freezers during the winter: They shoot deer, squirrels, racoons–any non-human creature, basically. (That is also why many of them fish during the spring and summer.) As much as I love the outdoors, their way of life isn’t my cup of tea–especially since I know that for some, it isn’t a choice.

    What really bothers me, though, is that some so-called educated people are not only ignorant about people who live outside of their bubbles; they want to remain so. And they help to perpetuate the divisive, corrosive politics we have.

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      Karen the rock whisperer

      MJ, your assessment of gun ownership is spot on. Living in suburbia, there no way that there is a need for guns. But Husband and I will retire to a rural area in a couple of years…and it is not a safe place for humans to go hiking without a firearm, because municipalities with part-time residents who are determinedly ignorant of managing living with bear and cougar neighbors have chosen to “rehome” the critters rather than educating the humans. The critters are only a problem because humans have made them so. I will be crushed if a family member needs to use a firearm to deal with a nonhuman neighbor, and so will they. No one will shoot cavalierly. The potential exists.

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    Barbara L. Jackson

    I agree completely. Liberals must start appealing to all types of workers whether they have a “degree” or not. Look at the numbers. If republicans continue to get the non-“degreed” workers there are not enough people to keep democrats in power. We also need more labor unions. I have also seen a lot of “research” saying that people without a college degree will not vote for democrats, and that this is the dividing line in our society because you need a college degree to understand things like climate change. This is ridiculous. I majored in physics the first time I was in college but did not graduate, I did not have the specialized knowledge or the needed algorithm and powerful computer to do that kind of work. When I graduated with a degree in Information Technology (computers) I still did not have that knowledge. We need to show everyone how climate change is happening now or we will fry our civilization.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Most things in life can be learned by reading, study, and practical application. I have often said that I could learn brain surgery if you give me enough people to practice on. 🤣🤣

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Bruce Gerencser