December 16, 2015
Mike Rowe Slams Bernie Sanders For Implying Kids' Options Are College Or Prison

Bernie Sanders wants everyone to be able to go to college without breaking the bank.

He said as much in a tweet posted Sunday, and honest work champion Mike Rowe wasn't too pleased with it. Although he admitted it's not easy to get a point across in 140 characters, it didn't stop him from tearing down an oft-repeated requirement of modern society -- that all kids need to go to college, or else.

Rowe fumed over Bernie's tweet on his Facebook page.

"In less than 140 characters, he's managed to imply that a path to prison is the most likely alternative to a path to college. Pardon my acronym, but...WTF!?

Whether or not that's the message Sanders intended to get across is up for debate, but Mike's point was clear: There are plenty of alternatives to a diploma -- and jail isn't one of them. Trouble is, parents and guidance counselors are loathe to tell young people to pursue a career in trades, which may not be very glamorous.

Mike Rowe hosted the Discovery Channel show Dirty Jobs, in which he performed many of those humble but necessary occupations that, as he put it on the show, make comfortable modern life possible. These days, he hosts a similarly-themed show on CNN called Somebody's Gotta Do It, the Daily Dot reported.

Supporting skilled labor has long been a passion project for Rowe, whose two organizations -- the mikeroweWORKS Foundation and Profoundly Disconnected, a venture between Rowe and the heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar -- are trying to encourage young people to consider careers in trades.

Mike's argument against the necessity of a degree is hard to argue, especially considering how expensive tuition has become. In his scathing Facebook post about Bernie's tweet, Rowe argued that promoting a higher education is made at the expense of "alternative education."

"The implicit suggestion, reinforced daily by a generation of well-intended guidance counselors and misguided parents, is always the same -- get yourself a four-year degree, or accept one of the many 'vocational consolation prizes' that result from all other forms of 'lesser knowledge.'"

The result is society is encouraging kids "who are better suited for an alternative path to borrow vast sums of money they'll never be able to pay back in order to pay for a degree that won't get them a job."

Rowe was particularly offended by Sanders' perceived disrespect of skilled laborers by suggesting, in Mike's opinion, that most were felons. Calling the college push "arrogant" and "elitist," Mike was amazed at Bernie's tweet, which he said is the first time he'd seen an official support the "hyper-inflated cost of a diploma by juxtaposing it with the hyper-inflated cost of incarceration."

Regardless of what Bernie Sanders meant, Rowe's argument isn't hogwash. Forbes reported a couple years ago, the Dot noted, that the country's force of skill labor was aging and young people aren't filling its shoes. The end result may be a generation that has no idea how to put food on the table, which is a concern Rowe has expressed in the past as well.

Rowe argued that point in a 2013 interview with Reason. Back then, he clarified that he isn't against a university education but doesn't appreciate the assumption -- like he thought Bernie Sanders was making -- that a degree is the only way to make a living. Skilled work may be dirty and unglamorous, but it pays well, and America's educational system is biased against blue-collar work.

And in his Facebook comments, posted a day after Sanders' tweet, he continued to champion for the young person who forgoes a degree in order to operate heavy equipment.

"I wonder sometimes, if the best way to question the increasingly dangerous idea that a college education is the best path for the most people, is to stop fighting the sentiment directly, and simply shine a light on the knuckleheads who continue to perpetuate this nonsense. Maybe the 140 character limit has doomed him to be misunderstood or taken out of context. Certainly, it's happened to me. But regardless, the damage is in the headline, and Twitter is nothing but headlines. But there are many, many alternatives. And none of them come with a prison sentence."

[Image via Discovery Channel/Dirty Jobs]