G. Robert Dieckmann
April 8, 2006
The other day I was discussing some employee problems at my workplace with the company owner and supervisor.  Problems that at times have become serious.  One employee was fired, then later hired back while others are called on the carpet for violations of company policy time and time again with little results.  On this and other occasions I have asked "why was he hired back?", and "why have they not been fired and replaced?"  The answer is always the same:  "We can't find qualified electricians." 
Those who show up in response to our ads and requests through the Employment Development Dept. turn out usually to be either liars, drunks, or just don't have the knowledge and experience we require.  There appears to be a serious shortage of qualified electricians, at least in California. 
At customer locations, I am frequently witness to substandard work done by other contractors who use illegal aliens who often don't speak English, or simply unqualified people to perform the work.  I see construction workers every day and workers in "skilled labor" jobs speaking to one another in Spanish.  In Los Angeles, too many skilled labor jobs are being filled by unqualified illegal aliens from Mexico at low wages.  Is this what President Bush means by "jobs that Americans won't do"?
Sen. John Edwards loves to talk about the "two Americans", a divide between the rich and the poor.  He says the middle class is disappearing.  In one sense, he may be right but it's 'affirmative action' and government handouts that are largely responsible for it.  The American middle class, traditionally mostly skilled workers in service, business, industry, sales, construction, etc. are rapidly being replaced with low wage earners while those who previously would take those jobs are now led to believe they must have a college education and as such, expect upper class status and pay once they have their degree. 
In recent decades we have seen a huge push for high school students to go on to college.  They are being told "you can't make it in today's economy without a college degree.  The government promotes it, our tax dollars subsidize it, and liberal college administrators and professors profit from it both financially and politically.  The idea that everyone should go to college is draining our society of it's top skilled workers and creating a society of excessive college degreed graduates who then can't find jobs in their chosen profession because there are more applicants than positions or demand.  They consider themselves above doing 'skilled labor' jobs.
Probably the most common college degrees are in "law".  Do we really need 10 million lawyers in this country?  Some are lucky enough to find jobs as prosecutors, some get hired or start their own law firm as trial lawyers and flood our courts with frivolous law suits created by them to justify their law degree.  Still others become business and corporate attorneys.  The rest are usually forced into jobs that don't require a law degree or end up opining and speculating on Fox News. 
Those with the brains, resources, and ability to complete a college education (and many without them, but assisted by government subsidies and lowered standards) then expect to live the life of the upper class after college.  They marry (or don't), buy a house and a couple of SUVs on credit, and find themselves deep in debt and at the mercy of countless loan companies.  The same financial institutions whoes media commercials have created the climate that it's perfectly normal and proper to owe huge sums of money to other people for the rest of your working life.  These college grads of today are the same people who decades ago would have filled the skilled labor market with highly skilled Americans.
The result is that the perceived "middle class" has move up toward what used to be "upper class" leaving a vacuum in the labor market now being filled by illegal aliens and lesser skilled workers.   The 'upper class' now lives in gated communities and mansions and chauffeured around in limos and private jets just to stay ahead of the middle class.  I'm ok with that, we need the upper class to provide jobs, pay taxes, and fuel the economy.  The trouble is that the average standard of living in the US has climbed at a rate not really affordable to the average middle class American wage earner. 
Small businesses are over-taxed and over-regulated and often the owners can't afford to pay wages commensurate with the currently hiked middle class standard of living as they used to do. 
The bottom line for Americans is that we need fewer chiefs, more skilled Indians, and less expectations of upper class luxuries in middle class households.  Edwards' "two Americas" is not so much a gap between the rich and the poor, but between the college 'professionals' and the unskilled or semi-skilled workers trying to do skilled workers jobs. 
The "middle class" needs to be brought back into the middle class income bracket.  Not by redistributing the wealth as Edwards favors, but by more high school students opting to go into trade schools and the skilled labor market rather than adding to the already overfilled colleges and excesses of college grads looking for jobs that don't exist.  There is no shame in starting their careers at the bottom and working their way up instead of trying to start at the top and robbing our country of our highly skilled workers.