Community College

Friday, October 15, 2004

I watched the presidential debate the other night. Actually, I’ve watched all of them. I keep hoping to see one of those movie moments where someone says or does something and everybody knows that’s it: The tide has turned because of that one moment. Because of that one moment, we will have a clear winner on November 2, not the debacle that occurred last election.

Unfortunately, that never happened. Thank the Commission on Presidential Debates. It’s their job to insure that nothing significant happens at these events. They’re very good at what they do.

However, lost among all the issues was one little statement that really irritated me. When asked what he would say to a worker who lost their job to outsourcing, President Bush responded:

…Here’s some help for you to go to a community college.

What a lovely idea. Why didn’t the 140,000+ white-collar workers who have lost their jobs to outsourcing, most of whom probably already have at least a bachelor’s degree, think of that? They can just go to a community college so they can get a completely different job that makes no use of their current skill set. If they work hard, in 10 years they just might make it up to the same salary they were at … when they took their first job out of college.

Now, I don’t know what should be done about outsourcing, but telling people they just have to start over isn’t a very encouraging answer. And it wasn’t just what he said, it was how he said it. As if professionals should be happy the government will help them throw away all their training and experience and get a lower paying job. Personally, I would prefer a president who offers hope instead of defeatism. Help people keep their current jobs, or get better ones. Instead of sending them to community colleges, pay for education that will advance them in their current career field. Better yet, spend that money on research and development that will create new markets and new jobs. Then, everybody wins.

I debated about writing this (Debated, get it? Oh, well, nevermind then.), because I’m trying really hard not to write about politics. But, since I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere else, I felt it needed to be said.