I highly approve of Al Franken's new pitch. Minnesota's Hennepin College has run a terrific manufacturing training program for many years: so successful that, before the Great Recession, they used to have job fairs where the roles were reversed, and employers would line up to compete for the favors of graduating students.
I used to be very involved in this sort of enterprise. Then came the Great Recession, and cutbacks, and not for the first time did I discover too late that when thinks get tight, it does not matter how competent or brilliant or hardworking or ingenious or innovative I am. I was out on my ass, with my job held open to provide a soft landing place for someone with clout. My complex, big-budget and highly-visible projects were handed over to some of my less competent former coworkers who could not figure out how to make the little wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round. They called me, in states of increasing panic, asking me what they should do as various components started to fly apart.
Because I was personally invested in these projects -- because I thought they could demonstrate how the wise and properly managed investment of public monies could be of tremendous public benefit -- I took the first five or six calls and gave them my best advice (I also asked what the Hell they done with all the meticulous project notes I had left behind so that future project managers could cope with precisely these situations. I was told, uh, um, er, we...kinda...lost them.)
Because I am not a chump, and because still had dreams of not going broke losing my condo, I put forth the radical idea that they would hire me as a consultant to save them from disaster. They knew I could do it. They knew that probably no one else but me could do it, and for much less than what they were already pissing away on a brace of useless consultants who were being kept around to stroke the boss's ego. Millions of dollars and the organization's reputation was on the line. But bringing me back just to fix what no one else could fix would have meant rubbing the boss's nose in his own incompetence, and so bringing me back became a bridge too far.
And so I got to watch "my" projects crash and burn. The taxpayer lost millions of dollars. People who make a living selling the idea that the public sector can't do shit got another arrow in their quiver. The concept we were trying to prove got a crippling punch to the throat. And six years later my career has not risen from the dead.
So I highly approve of Senator Franken's initiative.
But it is bittersweet.