63 thoughts on “February 5, 2017

  1. The grouch is partially right. There are many options for people to move up in the world that aren’t attached to a college education based job.

    • Pray tell me where? I’m a 44yr old mom working a retail job to supplement my husband’s income and unless I’m willing to be a temp-to-hire in a factory and lose his excellent insurance, I can’t find a darn thing that doesn’t require a degree. I even applied for a RECEPTIONIST job and they wanted a minimum of an Associates Degree plus two years experience.

      • I’d suggest the issue is the lack of jobs. When there’s more applicants than jobs, then the “requirements” goes up. As soon as it goes the other way, we’ll see opportunities for non-college jobs again.

        • And with how much automation has already happened in most work places, I don’t see the more jobs than applicants happening anytime soon, not without a sudden and dramatic drop in the population.

    • Theoretically that may be true but for many, they’re doing all they can just to break even. Where on earth would they get the money and the time needed for education – and I’m not even just thinking college. Even vocational training will cost you.

      To claim that “anybody can do it” is a privileged way of thinking. The time and resources are just not there for everyone.

      • America is just broken like that.

        I’m from Denmark and I am so happy about that. Our ability to start out as a freelancers and work ourselves up in jobs that doesn’t require colleague is so much greater than in America… hell it EXSIST, which is a huge step upwards.
        And I am a Uni student myself within the field of psykology, so it doesn’t even apply to me, but I am so very happy my friends and family has this oppertunity when they don’t feel like becoming an academic.

        It really bloody sucks it can’t be like that in the US when we all feel like it has the ability to be that way, and should be that way, it just isn’t.

  2. Even if all the manufacturing jobs hadn’t been offshored, they would be almost fully automated by now anyway. Look at cars for example. Back in “the good old days” car manufacturing was done by an assembly line of people. Now much of the work is done by an assembly line of robots. Machines do a more consistent job, can work 24/7 without breaks, and they don’t leave empty soda cans inside the doors.

    Let’s say we could wave a magic wand and bring all the manufacturing jobs (and the supply chain to support them) to the US. This does not solve the unskilled labor unemployment problem. Suddenly your $3 toilet brush costs $7. The jobs created aren’t hundreds of unskilled assembly line workers on the floor, they’re supervisors to watch the machines, skilled technicians to keep them maintained, and a few positions for quality control and packaging. The brushes themselves won’t be made any better, either. China will manufacture to any spec you want, but because consumers expect low prices, corners get cut to keep costs low while still maintaining a healthy profit margin for the retailer. (The retailer cretainly won’t take a cut in their profits out of benevolence.)

    The days where you could graduate high school, work at the toilet brush factory for 40 years, and retire with a pension are gone. They’re not coming back. They can’t as long as we’re collectively addicted to our steady supply of cheap big-box store junk. The problem is there are vast swaths of the country where everyone in town relied on the toilet brush factory for their income, and it was a given that it would always be there. But now it’s closed, the toilet brushes all come from the other side of the world, and these folks are stuck. That’s not to say they can’t do anything, they can certainly learn new skills, but rewinding the clock to bring their old jobs back isn’t the solution.

    • And who’s fault was it that the whole town relied on the toilet brush factory for its employment needs?

      The days when uneducated shlunks and yahoos could enjoy lawyer money and bureaucrat job security were an historical fluke.

      They aren’t coming back, and the fact that they existed at all was extraordinary.

      • No, but for the vast majority of recorded history, everyone earned at least enough it live on ( in feudal times, even serfs earned enough it live on, with a little bit extra (we know they earned a little bit extra because there was a version of inheritance tax paid to their lord in those days)) while today, the problem is that people can’t even get paid enough to live on.

        That, and in many ways, the more abusive companies seem to want to return to the days of serfs, except without the obligations to said serfs that the historic lords had.

        • “…the problem is that people can’t even get paid enough to live on.”

          The world economy is worth about $80 trillion. The US alone accounts for a QUARTER of that.


          I’m not a rich man – yet. But I know that if I can’t score a hundred grand a year out of that $20 trillion pie wedge, I’m the one doing something wrong.

          Nobody wants to hear that the reason their lives suck is in the mirror.

          But I know that I’m the reason my life doesn’t look like my daydreams, and I’m not special or different than anyone else.

        • “while today, the problem is that people can’t even get paid enough to live on.”

          Please define “enough to live on”. It may not include cell phones with big data plans, or premium channels on cable TV. There’s a lot of bills that have become “standard” that aren’t required to “live on”. Most of these have come about since the ’70s. And nearly all of the bills are paid to giant corporations.

          • To me to live on means rent, Food, and Health Care. I make $4 above my States minimum wage and I still can’t afford all of those at the same time.

    • And if you can’t afford to do that? And couldn’t despite your best efforts? What then?

      Having a sickening suspicion that I can already guess your preferred reply to such questions…

      • to be fair, it may not be malice as such. It’s a known phenomenon that as you get richer, your idea of “poor” shifts.(the quote of Trump saying he got a “small loan of a million dollars” to start his first business illustrates my point- to him, it IS a small loan.) As such, the richest probably literally don’t understand that it is in fact unaffordable no matter what- or rather that the risk/reward ratio is skewed towards the risk end ( to someone rich, a college education that turns out to be useless is merely annoying. To someone like Cooper, it would be an unmitigated disaster)

      • If you’re a human being with an internet connection, you’ve got what you need to figure the answer out for yourself.

        If your best efforts aren’t working, then maybe Effort isn’t what will fix your problem. Try another course of action.

        • If the problem is that someone isn’t clever enough to find the solution, that’s still a flaw in the system. Some people aren’t clever, you can’t just say “oh, it’s their own fault, they should be cleverer.” They’re still human beings, deserving of a reasonable standard of living.

  3. I work IT support for a Podunk school district while my Engineering Degree languishes. Interestingly enough, there’s a trade school nearby where they are begging for people to learn CNC machining. That was a few years ago, I admit, but I just passed a hiring agency advertising for machinist jobs…

    There are contractors looking for people to lay carpet, tile, set stone. But that is a lot of back work, not for everyone…

    I don’t know. The school I work for is toeing the line for everyone goes to college. But there are some skilled trades out there that pay decent that don’t seem to be getting the bodies needed to fill the slots. Sometimes I wonder if we are shortchanging our students that they should ALL go to college…

    • We totally are. Having a lot of clients in different areas of education I’ve read a lot of the studies and talked to teachers, board members of non-profits across the spectrum, activists, and foundations. I found that there are 2 things that everybody knows and nobody wants to admit publicly. One is that poverty rates and parental involvement are the only factors that really matter and all the other stuff we do while it might be important and valuable is really working on the margins. The other is that the idea that we can and should graduate every student ready for student in any meaningful sense is simply impossible. Politicians and advocates on both sides like to promote it because it sounds good if you don’t think about it and because it’s a great backdoor way to expand social programs or tear down public education and unions. And because it’s a way for corporations to outsource the cost of training programs to their employees and the public.

      • The problem is, though, that if not every student can be prepared for college, how do you pick who? my Secondary School participated in a gifted and talented program- everyone was told about the program, and selected students were nominated by the teachers in secret. My suspicion was that the teacher’s favorites got nominated.(who were also the school bullies- I know, because i was their most frequent victim) and if that meant I was forced inot learning vocational skills, I would be deeply unhappy now. Instead, I am attending university, studying what I am both interested in and actually am good at and am happy.

        • “The problem is, though, that if not every student can be prepared for college, how do you pick who?”

          The right way is self-selection. Some students know that they want to work with their hands rather than sit at a desk.

        • How do you pick? Some combination of self selection and performance requirements. You can believe in increased opportunities and openness and still admit that not everyone is college material and trying to force them to be is just as wrong as forcing minorities and poor kids not to be. Any decent teacher who was around 20-30 years ago will tell you that the old system had it’s problems, but that the new system which has gutted vocational education and devalued many credentials by forcing you to either award them to those who don’t meet the defined standards or screw over hard working students and deny them opportunities they deserve and get punished for it to boot is not the solution.

        • Instead of picking, why not have multiple options available and let the students make some decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. For those saying kids are too young and dumb to make those kind of decisions, educating them on all the options can help alleviate that instead of telling them that they are doomed to fail if they don’t do the academic university track.

    • We are. I was a late 80’s early 90’s high school grad. Well a GED holder since I was not a college bound kid. Learning disability and no money to speak of. So now way to pay for college and my parents made just enough over the financial limits for help even though most of that went to medical bills. We were denied any information on trades since we were all going to college, nothing else was an option. We were told that Mechanics wouldn’t be needed in 20 years since they wouldn’t have to actually fix cars we would be replacing them. We seriously screwed over an entire generation and are continuing to screw over kids this way.

    • Yes, my brother in law has had a terrible time trying to hire a CNC machinist for his shop. He’s willing to train if someone is willing to commit, but the folks around here would rather grow weed than do hard manual labor and show up on time. Meanwhile, he and my sister work 7 days a week, and I moonlight there on the weekends, trying to get the orders out on time.

    • Most people who go to college would really be better off going to a Vo-Tech school to learn HVAC repair or auto mechanics.

      Plumbers, heating & air conditioning repairmen and ASE-certified dealership mechanics can absolutely clean up – mostly because nobody wants to do the work these guys do.

      • Allegedly, the average age of an American locksmith is now 62. There’s still plenty of work, but the last few generations of students just haven’t pursued it.

        Mostly because they don’t realize it still exists, I think.

      • The electoral college did what it was meant to do, ensure that the idiots in California don’t make the decisions for the rest of the country. US elections were never meant to be a popularity contest it’s about representation.

        • donna,
          I’d much rather the idiots in California make the decisions that affect my life rather than the idiot currently occupying the White House.
          I live in Iowa so I have absolutely no illusions about the wisdom of the wisdom of the people who live in “fly-over” country

    • Yeah, Orange Voldemort lost the popular vote. The ghujklkjhgghjk electoral college is what put him in office. I won’t get into other factors because it’s too depressing.

      • And Obama lost the popular vote in the nomination process during his candidacy. Didn’t see you whining about the popular vote then.

    • Let’s get something straight. The people do not elect the president. The states do. That’s by design. Because we’re the “United States” – a collection of states. The states can award their votes any way they choose. The fact that every single state has decided to do it based on polling their population is irrelevant. If you thought it was or should be by popular vote, then you’ve been gas lighted by the media who were too lazy to explain it properly.

  4. Another problem is employers expecting a ton of experience and a degree for jobs that pay just a shade more than minimum wage?

    And the growing shift to “independent contractors” means there are even fewer decent opportunities out there.

    • “Another problem is employers expecting a ton of experience and a degree for jobs that pay just a shade more than minimum wage?”

      Is that a problem, or symptom? I’d suggest it’s a symptom of too many applicants and not enough jobs. Create more jobs, and this will disappear on it’s own.

      • No, it’s a problem that became apparent during the Recession when unemployment was so high. It became an employer’s market, so they could (and still can) afford to put up onerous requirements for entry-level and minimum wage jobs because people would still apply for them on account of there being few other options.

        On the other hand, to keep good/competent employees, a company has to offer good benefits and wages. This means raises and whatnot every year or two. If these don’t happen, or happen infrequently, a person can just get hired on, work there for a couple years to gain experience, and then jump ship for another company in the same field for a 10-20k+ pay increase (this has become more common in recent times). This is one reason a lot of companies don’t do OTJ training anymore–they don’t want to spend money training someone up only to have them leave for better opportunities elsewhere, yet don’t want to take the steps necessary to retain good employees.

  5. The old man is right. What does Cooper expect with only a high school degree? At least he has a secure salary job. He could do a whole lot worse. I’ve known people with Master’s degrees who had to work at gas stations.

  6. As someone who GOT my education, only to have my school go belly up due to fraud, thus basically invalidating my degree to ALL potential employers (they all looked me in the eye and basically told me this), I want to smack the stupid out of that old man. Getting an education is no guarantee, and holds a great deal of risk, since you’re now in debt with no likely prospects until you get two to five plus years of experience first.

    And let’s face it, the only advice you get is to go BACK to school and try again. Well gee I got burned the first time, maybe if I stick my whole arm in there it will be better?!

  7. Start your own business. Be your own boss. Make as much money as you are willing to work to earn. Pick up a squeegee and wash windows. Buy a good lawn mower an mow lawns. Put together a business plan and get funding. Find something you’re passionate about and turn it into a business. Find a problem and solve it (potato chip clips, a flexible smart phone holder, whatever). If you want the “security” of someone handing you a steady paycheck…

    Provide a good or a service and be your own boss and set your own salary. Business courses at community colleges are inexpensive and can give you a great start.

    • Running your own business isn’t for everyone. But I do think we’ve move way too far down the path of “let the company take care of you” mentality. For a country that prides itself in capitalism and entrepreneurship, it sure seems odd that so many small businesses are run by immigrants.

    • That’s great and all, and I’ve given thought to doing just that. However I work to live, I don’t live to work, and I value my free time. I’d rather leave work at work when I go home in the evening.

  8. Love these comments where non retail workers reveal themselves in the comics.

    I can’t help wondering what they get out of reading this comic.

    • Hi. REtail worker here. I am:

      1. Against the minimum wage.
      2. Against the idea that college = MONIES!!!!!
      3. Support trade education.
      4. Condemn public schools for insisting that college is a necessity.
      5. Oppose the idea that a “livable wage” is anything that that also allows you to have a computer, a cell phone with unlimited data, etc. If you’re making the wage of a bottom of the totem pole employee, maybe you should live like it. Historically, low-income people boarded together.

  9. Retail workers don’t deserve a minimum wage hike. No one does, Norm. Also, having a college degree doesn’t mean anything anymore. I have one, in communications, and had a 3.85 GPA to boot. I do freelance work online and I’m lucky if I make $125 doing articles around the web. That’s why I clean toilets for $12/an hour.

    Your comic strip has become so disgustingly liberal that I’m no longer reading it anymore. You should be conservative, since you left your crappy job and pulled yourself up and became a selfmade success story…but here you are, spouting liberal garbage in every comic trip. This isn’t the Boondocks, it’s retail.

    I’m done with you.

    • Even if the life he describes is no longer his own life, is that a reason that he should not have empathy for those people who still live it?

      (A lack of empathy for people not like oneself is arguably the biggest problem with the conservative mindset.)

    • “” You should be conservative, since you left your crappy job and pulled yourself up and became a selfmade success story…but here you are, spouting liberal garbage in every comic trip.””

      Rofl, because being self-made is supposed to make one conservative. And I suppose being in the military automatically makes one conservative as well? (hint: it doesn’t. I became more liberal after my time in service)

  10. The thing most people don’t understand is, money doesn’t mean what you think it means.

    Right now, if you make $50 an hour, you’re doing pretty well. However, that’s only because you can use that $50 to pay for three other people to do an hour’s worth of work for you.

    A soda doesn’t cost 2 bucks. It costs 10 minutes of labor, from the brewing to the transport to the gathering materials. If that labor gets more expensive, so does the soda.

    If minimum wage was $50 an hour, that would have three effects. First, a lot of people who now make more than minimum wage would start making minimum wage, and only be able to afford an hour of work for an hour of work. Someone who makes $16 an hour would see a massive decrease in their quality of life, as if their pay had been cut to minimum wage. As would the guy who makes $25. Second, your grandma’s saved retirement money would be worth a fifth of what it is. Third, we’d all be in a higher tax bracket, and give more money to the government, because moving the poverty line would take Congress ages.

    The numbers on your bills are absolutely meaningless. The only thing that matters, at all, is what you can buy with them.

    • You’re right about what money means, but you’re wrong about how economics works. It’s more complicated than that.
      Increasing wages can cause inflation, it’s true. However, that’s not the only factor in a healthy economy. When people have more money, they spend it. Spending money drives up demand for goods and services, thus creating more jobs and thus more wealth. People also tend to make more long-term purchases like cars and houses when they feel secure in their finances. If people are paying sales tax on those purchases, that means more money is (hopefully) directed to public works, which results in higher quality of life for everyone as well. In your example of the granny, she’s probably living mostly off her pension – which isn’t her savings. Assuming it’s a government pension, like Social Security, that too is paid for by taxes.
      I could go on, but I think you get my point.
      This is not to say that raising the minimum wage wouldn’t have any negative effects. Welcome to the real world, where just about anything you do will cause some problem for somebody somewhere. But that’s a case for proceeding from an informed point of view, not just declaring it’s bad on the face of it.

      • K, I disagree. You may be right is the very short run, but in the long run, Nekops is right. Your pay raise will be meaninglessness once all the prices jump.

        The only place I disagree with Nekops is that assumes that everyone’s wages goes up. In reality, the wages of the Chinese probably won’t. What would probably happens is more jobs goes overseas. Then people can be unemployed at a higher price.

  11. I think it’s funny because Cooper never even mentioned minimum wage. Maybe he doesn’t want minimum wage to go up, maybe he just wants one of those better jobs that disappeared?

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