Rubio Was Right: Welders do make more than Philosophers
Jay W. Cobb

Oh, I really think this is a false binary. Followed by a truly meaningless metric.

Leave us take the case of my great-grandfather. A giant of a man and a typical European peasant farmer. Also an independent-minded Mennonite. Some years ago I had a look at his diaries. After pages of weather, planting schedules, and the like came pages filled with his theological musings. Not parroted from the last sermon, but subtle and well reasoned thoughts based on the tenets of his faith an his own reading of the bible. He was both philosopher and welder.

My grandfather, seeing me reading about the Soviet Union, sat down and talked to me about his participation in the revolution in 1917–18, and how his faith and experiences as a peasant under the Czar informed his politics. Philosopher and welder.

I pursued a honours degree in English lit, then went to technical college to become a trained furniture maker, ending up, like 15000 years of my family before me, as a farmer. This lead to me being described, at a luncheon hosted by the Centre for Co-Operative and Community-based Economies, as “a Gramscian public intellectual.” A label I wear with pride.

A friend from uni completed his BA in science before becoming a cab driver. Another is a monster musician and a librarian. Life is not binary. You can be an intellectual and a person who works with their hands, and each informs the other. Maybe only 10 percent of people who pursue post-grad studies end up teaching in their chosen field at a university. That does not make them any less successful. It makes them better at what they eventually do. Just as becoming a welder does not make a person stupid. Each is informed by both practical and intellectual training. It is the forced streaming into narrow specialties that leads to this false hierarchy. And using pay as a metric is just stupid. My uncle, a plumber and gas fitter, worked a union job and made over 150k one year. Untrained labourers in the Alberta oil sand could make similar amounts. This didn’t make them better or worse than university professors or rocket scientists, but rather reflected an unusual set of economic circumstances that had nothing to do with either of them.

There’s a lot of time to think about the relationship between God and man when you’re looking at the south end of a horse going north. Just like there’s a lot of time to consider the relationship between capital and labour when you’re working an assembly line. This binary is an imposed one, meant to separate us, meant to keep us from finding common ground. The fear is that theory and practice will find their common ground and create change.

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