Thursday, November 02, 2017

We Don't Need No Education

A sad, perfect little story about how the mind of a Trump supporter works, and why there is very little point in pretending that we will ever be able to sit and reason together:
Awaiting Trump's coal comeback, miners reject retraining

WAYNESBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - When Mike Sylvester entered a career training center earlier this year in southwestern Pennsylvania, he found more than one hundred federally funded courses covering everything from computer programming to nursing.

He settled instead on something familiar: a coal mining course.

”I think there is a coal comeback,” said the 33-year-old son of a miner.

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

And the punch line.
“I have a lot of faith in President Trump,” Sylvester said.
By the way, in case you missed it, those are your tax dollars being pissed away to prop up Mr. Sylverster's fantasies about the Second Coming of Anthracite. 

Very, very scarce federal dollars. 

I ought to know.  Before being laid off into the teeth of the Great Recession, I spent a decade helping to invest tens of millions those very, very scarce federal dollars as creatively and efficiently as possible to help put thousands and thousands of unemployed and dislocated Americans back to work.  I was damn good at my job, and before being laid off (and seeing my projects collapse for lack of decent management, and eventually my entire former department disappear completely) I helped set up a high school, a couple of workforce centers and a whole lot of programs to train/re-train people.

And because the supply of those very, very scarce federal training dollars was always outstripped by the need for those dollars by a factor of 20-or-30-to-1 (and because those dollars came with very severe performance and outcome requirements) I and my little team had to be both extremely creative and extremely disciplined about our work.   We funded or directly operated programs in women's shelters, ex-offender programs, summer youth programs, ESL training for restaurant workers, manufacturing training and placement programs and on and on.   And in every case we always tried to make sure that what we were spending your tax dollars on was a sound investment one of your fellow citizens. 

Does the program train towards portable, widely-recognized industry skill certification?  Does it have a good record of placements?  Do people who find a job, keep that job?  If not, what can we do to  help them keep it?  If they had been laid off, is their new salary likely to be close-to-comparable to what they used to make?  Can we beat the bushes to fund enough complementary grant money to help gap-fund critical program elements that our main funder won't pay for?  If we need to spend a lot more on programs for the hard-to-serve (ex-offenders or the homeless, for example) where can we shift money from other, underfunded programs without crashing the whole system?  Oh, and the mayor's got a bug up his ass about recycling and bike paths and the "digital divide"?  Great!  Can we fold any of those into anything we're doing to cadge a few more dollars from city hall (turns out, Yes We Could!)

We were always juggling all those variable (and many, many more) to find the elusive, constantly shifting sweet spot which would allow us to help as many people as possible, as effectively and efficiently as possible, while not ignoring those who needed the most help and were the hardest to serve. 

Anyway, in that environment, the single stupidest and most indefensible thing a workforce system could possibly do with those very, very scarce federal dollars is to piss them away on training people for jobs that do not exist and will never come back within rapidly and irreversibly declining economic sector.

It is sad but understandable that Mr. Sylvester's would want to cling to his dream of landing a non-existent job in dying industry from a bygone era.  Hell, I still want to be a cowboy or open a string of successful gondola-rental agency along the canals or Mars. 

But it is fucking unconscionable that anyone would use your tax dollars to pander to Mr. Sylvester's delusions and string him along this dead-end folly. 

But then, what isn't fucking unconscionable these days?

Behold, a Tip Jar!


Dave McCarthy said...

All in all it's just a
nother kick in the balls

wibble said...

...Sigh. ~:(

charlesburchfield said...

I read this today on slacktivist blog:
"The presumption of good faith has thus been weaponized and turned against itself."

Unknown said...

Why coal mining and not buggy whip manufacturing? Typewriter repair? Telegraph operator?

Mr. Sylvester has blinders on - lots of good obsolete technology he could be training for to never ever use.

trgahan said...

It is the perfect case study about why Democrats need not follow Republicans and the media in fetishizing the much vaunted Abandoned White Working Class.

Democrats could do all but push in Mr. Sylvester's chair on a new non-coal middle class income job and he will NEVER give them credit for it, much less his vote. He'd probably rather die than admit to his PA neighbors the Government (much less that liberal Muslim N#@$#) helped him, but he'll freely admit to a reporter staking his future on his Glorious Leader saving him regardless of the avalanche of non-partisan data saying otherwise.

Most importantly, guess who Mr. Sylvester will blame when coal continues its forecasted fall?

Tanbark said...

Rank and file coal miners have been one of the most dangerous, most shat upon, jobs in the country, and their fight for fair wages and safer working conditions is an American labor saga, but the fact is, that the Dollar General chain of stores employs more people than the coal mining industry.

bulletholes said...

“The Stone Age didn’t end from a lack of stone. And the oil age will end long before the world runs out of oil.”
Some kid on a skateboard at the Mall