Bill Maher and Mike Rowe Discuss What Dirty Jobs Mean to America

By Chuck Ray | Posted: 06/18/2014 2:24PM

 

Chuck Ray, PennState, Associate Professor of Wood Operations Besides the great comments submitted on the last couple of posts, I had some insightful feedback via email. One especially interesting comment came from Glen in Arkansas, who said...

"The attitude of entitlement projected by so many of the young folks we interview at EFS is an epidemic. It's not, "What can I do for your firm and clients?" it's "What are you going to do for me?"

He went on to describe the reasons he believes this attitude is so common. I know, as the father of seven kids, five who are now teens and twenty-somethings, that their approach to life and values are different than mine were forty years ago. They definitely don't want to get dirty. I thought getting dirty was the fun part of work.

Generational differences, I suppose, have always been so. The important thing is to acknowledge and react to this different culture in a way that produces positive outcomes, those that bring production of goods and services back to its important and respected place in our world.

Quite by accident, I stumbled across this video of a Bill Maher television show from last summer, in which he interviews Mike Rowe, the host of a great show called Dirty Jobs. You may know him better from his Ford commercials. He has become a spokesman for hands-on work, in a way. The video is a funny but spot-on commentary on the jobs gap, and what can be done about it. Turn the volume down some, Maher's language is salty, as usual for him.

One way to re-instill the importance of strong work ethic in our society is to push back against the biases discussed by Rowe and Maher above with the message of pride and satisfaction in a job well done. The National Association of Manufacturers has taken on this task with an excellent short video that accurately reflects this feeling that too few of us seem to relate to these days.

It's a start. The challenge to those of us currently in the wood and forest industries is to make sure our companies offer the kind of work environment that really does allow folks to achieve The American Dream. The Dream changes slightly for every generation...but unless the work gets done, that dream will become very small, indeed.

 

About the Author

Chuck Ray, PennState, Associate Professor of Wood Operations

Chuck Ray

Dr. Charles D. “Chuck” Ray is Associate Professor of Wood Operations Research at Pennsylvania State University. His specialty is in the area of operations research, specifically those operational issues that confront the majority of the wood products sector. He previously spent 15 years in research and quality management for two large building products corporations, Temple-Inland Forest Products and Louisiana-Pacific. Ray is the sixth generation of his family to work in the sawmill industry, the Ray Brothers Lumber Company, established in East Texas before the turn of the last century. He can be reached at cdrpsu@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @ChuckDRay. He maintains an Extension website for Penn State at http://extension.psu.edu/woodpro and also writes a blog on all wood issues called Go Wood which can be found at http://gowood.blogspot.com.

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