I was born in 1930, a time when at best, five percent of Americans actually went to college, and, at best, half of them were high school graduates. We expected to enter an occupation in which one relied extensively upon one’s physical abilities as well as upon our mental. Information came from newspapers, the radio and upon our neighbors and fellow workers. Unions were a source of education, they taught us about the importance of cooperating with fellow workers, and the one thing we all knew is that bosses were only interested in one thing-paying lower wages and making us work longer under whatever conditions cost them the least. We were WORKERS, and we understood that wealthy people WERE NOT! I was raised as a member of the working class, and felt pride in being one.
My pop had a hole-in-the-wall butcher shop and on Thursdays had to hire someone to help mom and him pluck chickens. One day I came to the store to deliver “orders” and discovered, Max, our chicken plucker sitting outside. He told me the Chicken Pluckers Union had called a strike. Pop came out and nodded his head. I then said to pop: “Pop, if Max is on strike, then this is a picket line and I can’t cross it.” Pop looked at me, he needed me to deliver the orders, but said quietly. “So, go home, I’ll get the tailor’s son to deliver.” We respected the rights of fellow workers, and we understood that all were in the same boat-we were exploited members of the working class.
Today, while teaching college classes, I rarely encounter young Americans who have similar feelings. I just completed teaching a class at Wildwood Community College in which just about all students informed me they were “creative thinkers” and they were “critical thinkers” but not a one of them described themselves as members of the “working class!” Americans today fail to understand that most are now members of the “working class” and they will be exploited and abused. The middle class is declining, our minimum wage is lower than such wages in many European nations, but Americans insist we are abusing wealthy folk by taxing them “too high.” After all, Fox News informed them minimum pay laws are “too high!”
So, why are Americans who go to college so dumb?