Friday Free For All

From comedian/actor Bill Murray:


“It’s hard to win an argument with a smart person, but it’s damn near impossible to win an argument with a stupid person.”


I would posit that many/most of those in the latter category are guilty of excessive distillation of reality that I mentioned yesterday. I wish I could find the remark, but I seem to remember someone famous saying that the grossest delusions of grandeur (not meant in the clinical sense) come from the most ignorant because they are unaware of how much they don’t know.


Gerald Johnson, GM Executive VP of Global Manufacturing, believes the company’s manufacturing plants will be back to full capacity by mid-June. Whether or not enough people are in the market for a new car by then is another matter, of course. “We have had no transmission of the virus in our facilities. Not in China. Not in South Korea and not in North America,” said Johnson. As inconvenient as it might be, keeping the practices in place that have led to such an accomplishment might be the only way forward, even after a vaccine and effective treatments are developed. The next pathogen is lurking around the corner.

The GM plant in Tonawanda, New York that manufactures Corvette engines is supposed to re-open on Monday, May 18th. Speaking of Corvettes–yes, I speak of them often–Chevrolet spokesman Kevin Kelly stated that 2,700 2020 Corvettes were manufactured before the shutdown and that when the plant resumes operations it will build 2020 model year cars. Supposedly, about 40,000 2020 Corvettes were ordered. Kelly didn’t comment when asked if some customers who ordered 2020 models will get 2021s. Depending on when the plant can be reopened, Chevrolet may not know. From the Corvette Blogger piece, a picture of a 2020 Corvette convertible:



I am still waiting to see my first 2020 Corvette in the wild. Maybe I will see one before the end of the year, after all.


From this piece comes this fact: “…[V]irtually the entire decline (92%) in the US labor force [from the coronavirus] came from workers without a 4-year college degree.” I would never argue that pursuing a college degree is a waste of effort, money and time for everyone. I would still argue, though, that too many people attend college. Remember that only about 53% of students who attend college earn their degree within six years of first enrolling.

<Soapbox> Contrary to the views of many parents in this country, it is not beneath your children to work with their hands. <End Soapbox> Plumbers, welders, auto techs, etc. make good livings and can work a long time.

This country is experiencing an extreme shortage of automobile technicians. Parents seem to fail to understand that working on cars today is not the same as it was when they were growing up. Modern cars are, in many ways, computers on wheels. However, most parents discourage their children from pursuing a career as an automotive tech.

In this podcast Tech Force CEO Jennifer Maher states that the automobile industry needs about 125,000 new technicians a year in large part due to the “tsunami of retirements” by those in the field who are in the Baby Boomer generation. However, only about 57,000 people a year are graduating from trade schools with automotive tech certifications. Maher said that instead of calling automotive techs “blue-collar” workers she calls them “new-collar.”

Sometimes I wish I were young enough to attend an automotive tech program and earn a certification. I would say that most car owners are not equipped to work on their own vehicles, especially if those vehicles were manufactured in this century.


As a Baltimore Ravens fan I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that today is Ray Lewis’ 45th birthday. He was certainly one of the greatest players of all time. Lewis was twice named NFL Defensive Player of the Year, was named to ten All-Pro teams and was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Of course, Lewis’ career was marred by being indicted on charges of murder and aggravated assault stemming from a melee that broke out after a Super Bowl party in Atlanta in January of 2000 in which two people were stabbed to death. After he agreed to testify against the other two defendants, he pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice.

I believe that very few people actually know what happened that night. The Ravens do not have a large national following because they are “blamed” for depriving Cleveland of their NFL franchise, even if for just three seasons. Most football fans assume that Lewis knows what happened and that he shoulders blame. I am not defending him nor am I blaming him. I don’t know what happened.

Not to offend the religious readers of this blog, but I found Lewis’ over-the-top display of his faith to be off-putting. I also find it at least a bit hypocritical as Lewis has six children with four different women, none of whom is his wife.

Almost all of us are shadow and shade, even great athletes. I believe that they are not worthy of hero worship until they act like heroes. In my 20+ years in major league baseball I learned that, except for their ability to play baseball, most baseball players are entirely unremarkable people.








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11 thoughts on “Friday Free For All

  1. “This country is experiencing an extreme shortage of automobile technicians.”

    The country is experiencing a shortage of nearly EVERY blue collar worker. Our company uses millwrights, riggers, welders, industrial mechanics, electricians, and laborers. We will typically go thru 20-30 applicants to find someone with relevant and verifiable experience for the skilled positions. And then half of those turn out to have the work ethic of a sloth. I have taken classes on productivity and learned that if the employer get 75-80% productivity in an 8 hour shift thats about average. I can live with that, but when it gets down to 50-60% is when I raise Cain.

    The bigger problem is finding younger workers. Most, as you noted, are coming up on retirement and the pipeline is barely at a trickle with replacements. A secondary problem is finding younger workers that will use both hands. Seems most have to have a cell phone in one hand almost all day. We have even had to go as far as putting phones in a “lock box” and opening it up at break times.

    Even though we are a non union shop, we don’t pay slave wages, A qualified millwright will start at $27 per hour,and can go as high as $35 per hour, other trades slightly less. Given that we normally work five 10 hour days and 6 hours on Saturday our employees average between $50K and $90K per year. Not PHD level wages, but not bad for someone who didn’t spend $100K on a degree.


    1. Yes, of course you are right in that the country is experiencing shortages of workers in all skilled trades. Tech Force CEO Jennifer Maher made sure to make that point during the podcast. It’s brainwashing that makes parents think their children have to go to college.

      It’s also absurd to think that people should pay nothing out-of-pocket for college. Government subsidization of college is THE BIGGEST SINGLE REASON college costs have exploded. You think college is expensive now? Perish the thought, but wait until it’s “free.” NOTHING is free even if it’s free to you.


  2. Anything that’s “free”, be it an apple or an education, is paid for by someone somewhere. And that someone will also include yourself one way or another.


  3. As far as work training for the trades, Mike Rowe, he of reality TV “Dirty Jobs” fame, has a foundation which provides scholarships for those willing to apply and commit, in writing, to getting a job in the trades. He has become the spokesperson for pushing people into technical trades and to forego college. I took wood shop classes in high school in the early 1960’s which taught me a lot about what it takes to build anything. That experience helped me immensely as a college-educated mechanical engineer working to design and construct power plants and to work with the construction trades who built what I designed. My one regret is not taking a welding class in high school as that particular skill would be a great asset in helping construct my 1948 Ford F-1 Lightning project. Yes, the NEED for technicians of all types far exceeds the supply of those willing to enter into the trades.


  4. Have your lovely wife show you Mike Rowe’s facebook page to enlighten you about his efforts including his work to pay back to those individual volunteers who are giving to to their communities. You will love his Mother and her books.


  5. Looks like you hit a chord with people and your comments on technical vs college education. As a lifetime member of the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and a former technical trades editor, you are certainly preaching to this member of the choir. 🙂

    My favorite question to young people mentioning college is, “Do you know what the NDSU (North Dakota State University) grad says to the NDSCS (North Dakota State College of Science) Grad?”
    “Will that be fries with your order, sir?”
    NDSCS is one of the state’s major technical colleges. Most people are familiar with the NDSU Bison.


    1. LOL!

      Obviously I have nothing against a college education. I have two degrees and the second one, my graduate degree in Economics, opened a lot of doors for me until it didn’t. However, I fervently maintain that too many people attend college and not enough people learn a skilled trade. I also steadfastly maintain that the misguided government policies that excessively subsidize consumption of “higher education” are the single biggest reason college costs have exploded. As the economist in me knows, an exogenous upward shift in the demand curve of a good or service–in this case due to subsidization–combined with a relatively fixed supply (in large part due to universities seeing themselves as a luxury good) means the only variable that can adjust is price and it can only go straight up.

      What’s the solution? I have my own ideas, but in this country of excessive political polarization it is doubtful that anything will get done. In fact, it is likely that the only change will result in the situation getting worse as people almost always choose what they think is the path of least resistance and voting themselves a “free” college education fits that definition. Of course, NOTHING is free even if it’s free to you.

      Liked by 1 person

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