20 July 2013

Taxation via sales

Arthur B. Laffer, of the famous Laffer Curve, puts forth that e-commerce sales taxes could be used to cut income taxes in a 17 JUL 2013 USA Today article.  But this brings up the question of not only is this a smart thing to do (and there is no guarantee that governments will curb spending so as to allow for a cutting of income tax to do this) but if it is Constitutional.  In Art I, Sec. 8 is part of the answer to the Constitutional question:

Section. 8.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

That would apparently be it, right?

An interesting case sheds some light on this, and that is National Bellas Hess v. Dept. of Revenue – 386 US 752 (1967) (Source: Justia) that involved a mail order house in MO getting charged for taxes to be collected in IL by their Dept. of Revenue.  In the conclusion there was this:

Held: The Commerce Clause prohibits a State from imposing the duty of use tax collection and payment upon a seller whose only connection with customers in the State is by common carrier or by mail. Pp. 386 U. S. 756-760.

And going to the referenced section, the support for this is as follows:

National argues that the liabilities which Illinois has thus imposed violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and create an unconstitutional burden upon interstate commerce. These two claims are closely related. For the test whether a particular state exaction is such as to invade the exclusive authority of Congress to regulate trade between the States, and the test for a State's compliance with the requirements of due process in this area are similar. See Central R. Co. v. Pennsylvania, 370 U. S. 607, 370 U. S. 621-622 (concurring opinion of MR. JUSTICE BLACK). As to the former, the Court has held that

"State taxation falling on interstate commerce . . . can only be justified as designed to make such commerce bear a fair share of the cost of the local government whose protection it enjoys."

Freeman v. Hewit, 329 U. S. 249, 329 U. S. 253. See also Greyhound Lines v. Mealey, 334 U. S. 653, 334 U. S. 663; Northwestern Cement Co. v. Minnesota, 358 U. S. 450, 358 U. S. 462. And, in determining whether a state tax falls within the confines of the Due Process Clause, the Court has said that the "simple but controlling question is whether the state has given anything for which it can ask return." Wisconsin v. J. C. Penney Co., 311 U. S. 435, 311 U. S. 444. See also Standard Oil Co. v. Peck, 342 U. S. 382; Ott v. Mississippi Barge Line, 336 U. S. 169, 336 U. S. 174. The same principles have been held applicable in determining the power of a State to impose the burdens of collecting use taxes upon interstate sales. Here too, the Constitution requires "some definite link, some minimum connection, between a state and the person, property or transaction it seeks to tax." Miller Bros. Co. v. Maryland, 347 U. S. 340, 347 U. S. 31 345; Scripto,

Page 386 U. S. 757

Inc. v. Carson, 362 U. S. 207, 362 U. S. 210-211. [Footnote 9] See also American Oil Co. v. Neill, 380 U. S. 451, 380 U. S. 458.

In applying these principles, the Court has upheld the power of a State to impose liability upon an out-of-state seller to collect a local use tax in a variety of circumstances. Where the sales were arranged by local agents in the taxing State, we have upheld such power. Felt & Tarrant Co. v. Gallagher, 306 U. S. 62; General Trading Co. v. Tax Comm'n, 322 U. S. 335. We have reached the same result where the mail order seller maintained local retail stores. Nelson v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 312 U. S. 359; Nelson v. Montgomery Ward, 312 U. S. 373. [Footnote 10] In those situations, the out-of-state seller was plainly accorded the protection and services of the taxing State. The case in this Court which represents the furthest constitutional reach to date of a State's power to deputize an out-of-state retailer as its collection agent for a use tax is Scripto, Inc. v. Carson, 362 U. S. 207. There, we held that Florida could constitutionally impose upon a Georgia seller the duty of collecting a state use tax upon the sale of goods shipped to customers in Florida. In that case, the seller had

"10 wholesalers, jobbers, or 'salesmen' conducting continuous local solicitation in Florida and forwarding the resulting orders

Page 386 U. S. 758

from that State to Atlanta for shipment of the ordered goods."

362 U.S. at 362 U. S. 211.

But the Court has never held that a State may impose the duty of use tax collection and payment upon a seller whose only connection with customers in the State is by common carrier or the United States mail. Indeed, in the Sears, Roebuck case, the Court sharply differentiated such a situation from one where the seller had local retail outlets, pointing out that "those other concerns . . . are not receiving benefits from Iowa for which it has the power to exact a price." 312 U.S. at 312 U. S. 365. And in Miller Bros. Co. v. Maryland, 347 U. S. 340, the Court held that Maryland could not constitutionally impose a use tax obligation upon a Delaware seller who had no retail outlets or sales solicitors in Maryland. There, the seller advertised its wares to Maryland residents through newspaper and radio advertising, in addition to mailing circulars four times a year. As a result, it made substantial sales to Maryland customers, and made deliveries to them by its own trucks and drivers.

In order to uphold the power of Illinois to impose use tax burdens on National in this case, we would have to repudiate totally the sharp distinction which these and other decisions have drawn between mail order sellers with retail outlets, solicitors, or property within a State and those who do no more than communicate with customers in the State by mail or common carrier as part of a general interstate business. But this basic distinction, which, until now, has been generally recognized by the state taxing authorities, [Footnote 11] is a valid one, and we decline to obliterate it.

Page 386 U. S. 759

We need not rest on the broad foundation of all that was said in the Miller Bros. opinion, for here there was neither local advertising nor local household deliveries, upon which the dissenters in Miller Bros. so largely relied. 347 U.S. at 347 U. S. 358. Indeed, it is difficult to conceive of commercial transactions more exclusively interstate in character than the mail order transactions here involved. And if the power of Illinois to impose use tax burdens upon National were upheld, the resulting impediments upon the free conduct of its interstate business would be neither imaginary nor remote. For if Illinois can impose such burdens, so can every other State, and so, indeed, can every municipality, every school district, and every other political subdivision throughout the Nation with power to impose sales and use taxes. [Footnote 12] The many variations in rates of tax, [Footnote 13] in allowable exemptions, and in administrative and recordkeeping requirements [Footnote 14] could entangle National's interstate

Page 386 U. S. 760

business in a virtual welter of complicated obligations to local jurisdictions with no legitimate claim to impose "a fair share of the cost of the local government."

The very purpose of the Commerce Clause was to ensure a national economy free from such unjustifiable local entanglements. Under the Constitution, this is a domain where Congress alone has the power of regulation and control. [Footnote 15]

The judgment is


Yes you really do need that entire section although it comes to a sweet and easy conclusion, the justification of it is important.  The SCOTUS is reversing itself within the entire thing, and invalidating a system that it held to be Constitutional at one point.  Thus the US Congress could impose a separate sales tax, not based on local sales taxes due to the undue burden trying to comprehend the vagaries of local sales taxes entails.  This rests upon the power domain of Congress in the realm of Interstate Taxes and the requirement of due process for collection.

What the SCOTUS has invalidated is the 'fair share' of taxes by local governments for the protection of commerce that the interstate commerce goes through.  You can't do that as a local or State government, and attempting to impose that from the federal level incurs the exact, same problems of domain and due process.  The power domain to capture any such taxes from direct Interstate Trade is due to the federal government alone.  And the same conditions for catalog sales are directly analogous to Internet sales: it takes place via common carrier, there is no physically present operation of the seller in the buyer's State or jurisdiction unless it is within the State, then all State laws apply, and there can be no taxation to help support coverage of the infrastructure by a State or local government.

Thus via the Constitution the Congress would be able to impose a separate sales tax, applicable only to interstate commerce which would then flow into the federal coffers.  This would put the US federal government as having an interest in the transactions involved and would allow the full power of the federal government to get information from such transactions.  The actual wisdom of that, given what the NSA, DoJ and IRS are doing at present is questionable, at best.

Now in 15 USC 10B there is Sec. 381 that looks at State net income tax for those people doing interstate commerce and stops the State from doing that.  That would be a roundabout way to get a State 'sales tax' via the interstate derived income put under the guise of an income tax, and you can't do that.  This protects those who are not incorporated and acting as individuals from getting socked by this sort of thing by the States.

Going on to Sec. 391, you come to an actual interstate sales item: electricity.  And States can't tax out of State producers of that commodity, either.

There is a problem with 15 USC, just at a glance.  There are 110 Chapters to it covering everything from Armored Car Industry Reciprocity (Ch. 85) to Sports Agent Responsibility And Trust (Ch. 104) to Pool And Spa Safety (Ch. 106) to Hobby Protection (Ch.48).  If you want to know about Interstate Horseracing, Switchblades and Global Change Research, you can find Chapters for them, too.  You would think that something like business taxation would be held under it, wouldn't you?  No that's under 26 USC, with the taxation stuff... but if you want an exemption, give-away, freebie or other such stuff then you gotta be in 15 USC, apparently.  And, yes, since everyone who tries to make an interstate sale will then have an interest in getting an exemption for this or that, you can expect 15 USC to explode in size.  It used to go to 19 Misc., but we passed that ages ago.  If Mr. Laffer thinks you can get an equal code to apply to all people without some trying to get special carve-outs, then he is living in a different dimension on a different world and one that is, apparently, altruistic in nature.

In 26 USC 1, Section 11 you can find Taxes on Corporations.

Now how do corporations get their money?  Do they find it buried under trees in their back yards?  Do they suddenly come upon oodles of cash laying on their doorstep every morning?  Or do they get it through, oh, the sales of goods and services?

Hands up if you answer anything other than sales, unless you are thinking of charities, certain non-profits with their hats out, religious institutions, or that ex-Governor of New Jersey who fleeced people and has never been charged with anything for it.

Now they can get revenue from other sources and those are covered as well:

(2) Certain personal service corporations not eligible for graduated rates

Notwithstanding paragraph (1), the amount of the tax imposed by subsection (a) on the taxable income of a qualified personal service corporation (as defined in section 448(d)(2)) shall be equal to 35 percent of the taxable income.

(c) Exceptions

Subsection (a) shall not apply to a corporation subject to a tax imposed by—

(1) section 594 (relating to mutual savings banks conducting life insurance business),

(2) subchapter L (sec. 801 and following, relating to insurance companies), or

(3) subchapter M (sec. 851 and following, relating to regulated investment companies and real estate investment trusts).

Yes, that is starting to leave you with that goods and services stuff.

You can have a sales tax run by Congress or you can have a sales tax run by Congress.  If you are very, very unlucky you will get both, because, according to the US Constitution, Congress can tax you on sales and income if you are a corporation and I bet that these regulations will go down to individuals on EBay as well.

Isn't it swell that Mr. Laffer thinks that business income taxes would go down if you get a sales tax in interstate commerce?

Is there a problem with this?

Oh, yes, there is.

First – Just on the Income Tax as a proposition and I'll give you its Amendment:


Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913.

Note: Article I, section 9, of the Constitution was modified by amendment 16.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Where is a progressive income tax allowed in this?  That is to say: where is Congress allowed to treat different amount of earnings differently encapsulated in this Amendment?  It speaks to source and getting it without the old apportionment via population bit that was used up to 1919, but where does it allow Congress to put in different and graduated tax rates?  Because, you know, it doesn't, and via the prior texts all citizens are to get equal treatment under the law.  No favorites.  No scapegoats.  I'm starting to think that there is a test case in all of this.  And, via Instapundit, James Huffman seems to have an idea on this.

Secondly there is Art I, Sec. 9, in part:


No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

Hmmm... well that is interstate trade, now, isn't it?  And if you are trying to tax the sales of something being exported from a State, which is what interstate trade is, then no Tax or Duty may be laid upon it.  Period.  By any government.  This would include Impost Taxes, which Congress gets as well, which are normally considered for foreign trade and Excise Taxes, which are for inland trade.

As the US already had VT and NH, which had some trade with Canada but no ports to speak of, the Framers knew about the idea of inland trade and appear to have put a stop to trying to tax it by anyone.  There are fees for interstate transportation and inspections which are allowed, yes, but not a tax on the actual trade itself beyond those tolls, fees and other sorts of things necessary to ensure trade amongst the several States.  Excise taxes are commonly placed on commodities, like gasoline and its tax, which is done per gallon, not per amount of sales.  Similarly tobacco and alcohol can get an Excise Tax based on per unit or per volume distribution that is a set amount and not variable by the actual cost of the item involved.  As each of these taxes are for items by type, not by cost, and are regulated by graduation for that item (gallon, per number, or similar) and used to specific purposes for that Excise Tax that is not general revenue, they are allowable.  It is not a sales tax, as such, but one on the amount of a commodity purchased to cover the cost of its transportation, safety, or other clearly defined public problem to which it contributes.

Impost Taxes usually are put into the customs and trade realm, where a percent of the value brought into a Nation is then levied against the goods, and that levy must be paid so they can be accepted into the trade of a Nation.  This is a tax to support the overhead of government to run the Nation from foreign trade and used to be a major way the US government generated revenue before the era of Free Trade.

Third – The major sticking point is that the federal government is already collecting a form of sales tax on the total revenue of a corporation.  It is covered with that, by definition, and since Congress has made that a part of the definition of 'income' it can decide if it wants to tax total corporate income or only interstate trade sales income as a separate item.  Individuals selling to individuals, however, might suddenly find themselves with a State exemption for interstate income, but suddenly liable for a federal tax on them via this, if it isn't already considered a part of normal income.  You'll need to consult 26 USC 1 Ch.1 on that.

So would a NST be viable?  Not really, particularly the Art. I, Sec. 9 piece that specifically prohibits it from State exports.  States are prohibited from taxing them as well save for inspections and such in a part of Art I, Sec 10 that I don't use that often:

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

So no one can tax sales between the States, as such, save to count it as income for corporations.  That 'No tax or duty...' is a passive clause of the US Constitution and by not specifying who it applies to in the realm of power domains (federal or State legislative, judicial, executive) it then applies to all of them without exception.  This is not a 'Congress shall not...' sort of deal, but a full and broad prohibition that was absolutely intentional by the Framers.

Alexander Hamilton put it like this in Federalist #12:

In America, it is evident that we must a long time depend for the means of revenue chiefly on such duties. In most parts of it, excises must be confined within a narrow compass. The genius of the people will ill brook the inquisitive and peremptory spirit of excise laws. The pockets of the farmers, on the other hand, will reluctantly yield but scanty supplies, in the unwelcome shape of impositions on their houses and lands; and personal property is too precarious and invisible a fund to be laid hold of in any other way than by the inperceptible agency of taxes on consumption.

If these remarks have any foundation, that state of things which will best enable us to improve and extend so valuable a resource must be best adapted to our political welfare. And it cannot admit of a serious doubt, that this state of things must rest on the basis of a general Union. As far as this would be conducive to the interests of commerce, so far it must tend to the extension of the revenue to be drawn from that source. As far as it would contribute to rendering regulations for the collection of the duties more simple and efficacious, so far it must serve to answer the purposes of making the same rate of duties more productive, and of putting it into the power of the government to increase the rate without prejudice to trade.

The relative situation of these States; the number of rivers with which they are intersected, and of bays that wash there shores; the facility of communication in every direction; the affinity of language and manners; the familiar habits of intercourse; -- all these are circumstances that would conspire to render an illicit trade between them a matter of little difficulty, and would insure frequent evasions of the commercial regulations of each other. The separate States or confederacies would be necessitated by mutual jealousy to avoid the temptations to that kind of trade by the lowness of their duties. The temper of our governments, for a long time to come, would not permit those rigorous precautions by which the European nations guard the avenues into their respective countries, as well by land as by water; and which, even there, are found insufficient obstacles to the adventurous stratagems of avarice.

And then they put in the things to make it difficult to exact a price for that trade in personal property that governments will seek because their hunger knows no limits, and thus it must be limited at the start.

You want an NST?

Do you really want to let the IRS have that sort of information about who buys what and when, how much was paid and so on?  Because it will want an itemized list, you know?  Just to make sure.  And the IRS is so safe and secure, non-threatening and non-partisan, right?

In any event the Framers gave us Art I, Sec 9 to deal with the question.

We don't need another tax.

We need a smaller government that can be held accountable to the TAXPAYER.

We don't have that now.

And an NST doesn't get you there, either.

01 July 2013

Jobs that don't go away

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.  - Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love.

I do appreciate the sentiment of the quote, but there is a problem with it, for me, in that I grew up in a socialist household and it was preached at me that an hour's work is worth an hour's work, no matter what you do.  That came from the conception of communism and collectivism that put forward a bucolic view that all work was equal and that a man should have equal results from spending a day where he fished for a couple of hours, then tended his garden, mended his clothes, shoed his horse and then went and did an hour of real work and yet would receive recompense for the entire day doing things.  Karl Marx railed against the breaking down of work into smaller processes that could be specialized and each sub-process done quickly by an individual who only had to learn one skill to work for a wage.  This is called a 'division of labor' and Marx hated it as it divorced humans from the world where they should be able to do anything they wanted and have equal recognition for that work.  As much as a number of people adore Heinlein, I hate that quote as it speaks to the division of labor and what it has allowed the world to accomplish.  It has a mistaken belief behind it that any human can turn their hand to any task and be equal in performance, results and pay.

And yet that is just not the case, is it?  You should be able to turn your hand at various things in your life, yes, but your results will vary. 

I'm a generalist, believe me on that.  Being able to turn your hand to any task requires a mindset, an attitude and an aptitude to accept failure and that failure is an indictment of lack of skill, by and large, not a lack of trying.  You don't get paid for trying, you get paid for doing.

In America, today, we have an unemployment problem and it has nothing to do about unemployment and lots to do about how our society has changed its evaluation of work.  Since the start of the Progressive Era, the one that would try to make those who went through school as unlike their parents as possible, there has been an inculcation of the meme that 'to get ahead you need a diploma' or that 'a college degree means you will make more at any job you do'.

These are lies.

I saw that directly as I took up geology in university and the US had just hit the 'oil patch': the place where geologists from the small oil companies, some with multiple degrees under their belts, were flipping burgers just to get by.  A degree, higher education as a pathway to a good job are lies.  At the same time as I was getting a degree in geology, I was putting enough course work in to nearly minor in computer science, my second early love, and that proved to be a rewarding combination.  Note that these are not areas in the 'humanities' or ones that have a racial or ethnic or gender hyphen to them: math is required.

So are labs.

The lab work is that extra credit hour that goes with the main course and without which you don't get a grade.  A putative one hour lab never lasts one hour... and it doesn't matter if they only get the room for one hour or not unless it is the strictest form of lab where you must hand in your observations and results right there at the end of one hour.  I had, exactly, one of those.  Physics, of course, show all work and hand it in as far as you can process it through because methodology means more than results: do the right method and the results should follow.  A lab for seismic prospect, however, could eat up the minimal lab time and then, as you got to keep the results to keep on working at them, you could spend untold hours after the actual lab to get results.  There, in the drilling for oil and gas realm, results matter and your methodology better be correct.  Those labs are ones where you could easily spend ten or twenty hours and be working right up to the hand-in time... and only then find out the professor didn't give out enough information at the start... yet, even for the wasted time, you learned a lot.  Ditto the chemistry labs and labs on things like sedimentation where you could get one wrong sieve in place and lose a week's worth of work that you just don't have time to go back and complete because time and gravity determines how quickly sediment settles.

You can't BS your way to lab results.  Period.  And yet lab work is just a reflection of how gathered material and information are examined, and in geology that means you get field work to do the initial gathering.  Gathering data by something other than remote sensing and actually doing 'ground truthing' can lead to jobs that take you to the middle of absolute nowhere and then involve mucking around in soils, sediment, rock, rivers and streams, and then know that the tent you brought with you is your only real form of life support and comfort.  At the end of every long, winding dirt road is something a geologist wants to look at... or at least that is the way it seemed during field camp.

What you get from the sciences, engineering, technology and machinist world is one in which your political viewpoint doesn't get results.  Results are done through procedure, process, verification and testing.  If you think just because you are of some race, gender, ethnicity or that you are 'special' in any way, shape or form: try doing some work in the fields where education only matters in getting results via proper method, not good feelings.  At the height of the insanity in the old USSR there was the actual belief... taught understanding... that Communist science was different from Capitalist science.  That what you believed would offer you an entirely different set of Natural Laws.  Scientists outside the USSR came up with a term to describe this sort of thinking (I mean that is what those in the sciences do, after all, is discriminate and define... not attempt to define and then force the world to work to the definition) which holds for the entire field of 'good feeling' above hard results via methodology:  Lysenkoism named after Trofim Lysenko.  Lysenkoism believes in predetermined results and then doing everything to prove the results, including adulterating lab results to fit the predetermined schema.  Luckily Lysenko got Stalin to believe in this process and it set Soviet genetics back by decades, which is very lucky as it set their bioweapons programs back by the same amount.

Anthropogenic Global Warming is a form of Lysenkoism.  Anything that shows contrary to the predetermined belief that the globe is warming due to mankind's industrialization, like temperature readings showing that the globe has been cooling for a few decades, is thrown out in favor of the predetermined result.

Now with students graduating with tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt for their higher education, we are seeing that the predetermined belief that a college education gets you a decent job... and therefore a good life... is a lie as well.  It is Lysenkoism in service of Progressivism, and when you can tell them apart, let me know, wouldya?  The result of making sons and daughters as unlike their parents as possible is the destruction of the work ethic and the understanding that there is no such thing as a bad job.  That took me awhile to understand growing up, as I also had that belief, but after temping out doing all sorts of jobs, I learned differently.  And with college graduates with hyphenated degrees, degrees in the 'humanities' that have little to do with human nature and more about political indoctrination, we now find ourselves with a decaying infrastructure and little to no appreciation of what it takes to actually have a civilized, modern world.

Mike Rowe started out with about a single seasons of Dirty Jobs to do at the Discovery Channel, and figured that would be it.  A nice program to fill up some time  after he had quit being an opera singer because, really, he was an understudy and would probably always be an understudy.  I'm sure there are films about how all you need is one Big Break of the Star Performer having laryngitis, getting a broken leg, etc. for the understudy to come forward and shine... but those are movies for Hollywood, not real life.  In real life, results matter.  Mike Rowe has a great voice for TV and his voice-over narratives on shows like Deadliest Catch, amongst many, gave him a way to feed himself while he looked for other work he could do.  Dirty Jobs let him explore that 'other' work... and then the fans kicked in for seven more seasons of the program's material.  At Profoundly Disconnected there is a graphic that sums up the decades of lies comparing the poster at the guidance counselor's office and what Mr. Rowe has learned about the world:


Photo courtesy: Profoundly Disconnected

Because of the glowing belief of the 1970's that children should be aspiring to the sheepskin and not to the factory floor, we are now at a point where the jobs of actually cleaning and maintaining our modern infrastructure is putting civilization at risk.  Our way of life depends on jobs that include: welders, pipe fitters, ditch diggers, masons, sanitation workers, and much, much more.

Julie Kantor at the HuffPo, and that is a leftist, progressive rag if they actually printed the thing, but since it is done with electrons and semi-conductors you don't get bird cage liner, was out doing her bit to help create some livable space for monkeys and ran into Mike Rowe:

Rowe with his signature baseball cap and jeans pointed out that in the '70s, colleges created a poster campaign that told us to work smarter not harder, and the campaign was spectacularly successful! Rowe also shared his view that this campaign was the worst advice ever given. Why?


Out went vocational education and skills-based learning for jobs.

In came college, college, college-bound, NCLB, college loans, and over a trillion in debt.

We shifted focus off of skills and trade and the great equalizer of our country became to get kids college bound and degreed.

We became a country where testing scores are currency and not whether a child can show up on time, a positive mental attitude, focused resume and a work ethic to become an expert in a craft or skill.

We forgot how to just make something that America could sell and many 'dirty jobs' were viewed as beneath us in our quest to work smart but not necessarily hard.

Mike and others have pointed out time and time again to us that most jobs require a two-year degree (yeah, community colleges!) or less, and technical training and certifications. Also pointed out is that many of these jobs, especially if technology or engineering are involved, can start with salaries in the late 40's and 50's. The U.S. Department of Labor shares that only 18 percent of jobs require a 4-year college degree.

"We must be prepared with the skills for America so America will be prepared," said the dynamic youth president on the podium at opening night. The event resembled a Junior Olympics or rock concert with "America Needs Me" posters abound.

I spoke to him afterwards and he would like very much to be a STEM teacher in Automotive Technologies for a few years once he finishes his two-year degree and he plans to continue his education from there.

Rowe suggests that the new motto should be to 'Work Smart and Hard.' That's a campaign we can all get behind. Whether you go to a 4-year college, or a 2-year college, or get some vocational training, know what the jobs you want requires education-wise and what jobs pay to help you map out your decisions and training. Now that's smart!

I hope you will also be touched for the very first time by SkillsUSA and groups like 4H, Girls Scouts, DECA, YearUp, Invent.org, Youthbuild, NFTE and more that teach real deal skills.

And companies... if you haven't already and your struggling to hire...

The estimates vary, but there are between 3 and 5 million dirty jobs in the US going unfilled.  These jobs impact getting construction work done, maintaining roads and bridges, replacing water mains and sewer systems, maintaining and replacing the current electrical grid... none of this is glamorous, none of this is what you would call high tech, but each and every single item in our infrastructure will not last without maintenance and repair work.

We have changed from where being a politician was a job, to one in which it is a career... and yet politicians build nothing, create nothing, and only act as parasites within the organs of the civil body.  They stick around too long with ideas that are outmoded and seek a predetermined end.  Politicians love to classify things into jobs that require government... and they can and do build edifices and those are the warning signs that we must regard, today.

As the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day.

It was, however, sacked in three.

What is the amount of time it takes to go from civilized society to being uncivilized?  Three days.

We are missing hundreds of thousands... millions... of jobs by teaching a generation that they are 'special' and that everything they do is 'special' and that Big Brother Government will always take care of them when they fall down.  From our history we can see that Rome also stood on a similar precipice, where the freeman was marginalized by the slaves and freedmen who were connected to the rich, while the citizens of Rome became marginalized.  Yet the Eternal City would not fall completely, even after sacking... that would take a later invader who understood that the aqueducts allowed Rome to be the size it was, and destroyed them.  For its day that was a complex system, and yet in mere years, Rome shrunk from Imperial Capital sized to modest town by a river size.

What killed Rome wasn't the sacking, but the aqueducts being destroyed at key points.  The sacking of Rome was a mere warning sign on the road to barbarism, and yet it was not seen as such.

That is where our civilization now stands: awaiting some key failures for vital infrastructure that we have no one to deploy to repair.  We have seen the acts of barbarism but do not understand that they are symptoms of a disease, at best, not the thing, itself.

Imagine the main water system and supply of any major city not undergoing a terrorist attack, but just failing at so many points due to neglect that the entire system begins a cascade of failures that turns a major metropolitan area into something that only the surface carrying capacity of the water and ditches can support.

The Progressives grew out from Marx's ideas.

If you adore Heinlein you are looking to become a generalist.

I'm letting you know that the good skills necessary to support yourself and others aren't hard to get... Mike Rowe understands this... but you are only special when you are doing a function that is necessary to the support of civilization. 

From Gods of the Copybook Headings by Rudyard Kipling:

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said:
"If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

If you don't work, you die.

Plan for a job and a life, first.  Then figure out what you need to get it.

Not the other way around.

And if you have no idea what you should do... pick up some welding skills.  Carpentry.  Brick laying.  Pipefitting.  Electrician.  Plumber.

And if you can't decide, just start doing jobs and picking up skills as they come by.  For while specialization builds a civilized society and infrastructure, the generalist survives its collapse.  That collapse is always just three days away.  You can still do other things when being a specialist on the job... I heartily recommend it!  Do not let your job define you.  You must define yourself and your job is just something you do.

The skills are way cheaper than a four year degree, and won't leave you with a mountain of debt.  And you should be able to find a job in THIS ECONOMY to start your life.  Decent pay.  Debt free.  Good job.  Do you really want more out of live.

Temp out if worse comes to worse, and get a cross-section of skills: refuse nothing from cleaning out old warehouses to setting up pools on windy days to going out in the field to collect soil samples from waste dumps.

Oh, illegals aren't doing these jobs NOW and won't be doing them if they become legalized, just so you know.

'Lose the suits, grab some boots and get a Dirty Job.'

- Mike Rowe and the unofficial theme song of Dirty Jobs.