Why the Higher Education Short Didn’t Work

I had dinner with a local friend of mine last week. He’s a contractor, a fix-and-flip guy, but he said he’s getting a bit old for all that manual labor. He wants to stop working with his hands, basically.

“What do you want to do?” I asked him.

“Well,” he said, “I want a white-collar job.” Though he didn’t sound too enthusiastic about it.

My man, there is zero chance you are going to get a white-collar job that will replace your income flipping houses. What is available to you? You might be a receptionist at a dentist’s office for $35,000. Or you might get an administration job at the university for $35,000. White-collar jobs make less than blue-collar jobs. By a lot.

I told him the story of the beer distributor I knew who was hiring high school dropouts to drive trucks for $110,000 a year and college graduates to do sales for $55,000 a year. We simply don’t have enough blue-collar workers, which is driving wages up, and we have too many white-collar workers, which is driving wages down. Quite simply, too many people went to college, which was central to the short higher education thesis.

“What do you really want to do?” I asked him.

His eyes lit up. “I want to drive a truck!” he said.

“So why don’t you?” I asked.

Because I don’t want people to look down on me,” he said.

And then it hit me. This is all about class.