Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Increasing Status of the Service Trades

I read the following joke on Twitter the other day...

What's the difference between an investment banker and a pigeon?

A pigeon can still make a deposit on a BMW.

The recession certainly has knocked the pedestal out from under many financial and Wall Street types. Sure, they'll return to earning salaries and bonuses all out of proportion to their contribution to society soon enough, but for the time being the I-bankers' stars have dimmed.

Guess whose stars are getting brighter by the minute? People working in the trades. Frankly, this makes sense. Take two people of equal ability, send one to school and the other to work. The first earns a degree and takes an entry level job. Gradually, he advances up the corporate ladder, winning a wife, mortgage, and car payments along the way.

The second fellow learns his trade and eventually starts his own company. He stumbles a bit, but latches on to industry publications, conferences, and success groups. He figures out how to make money and does.

The corporatist may progress to the executive level, though most do not. Even so, he's constantly at risk of being right sized, down sized, outplaced, and left out through no fault of his own. Any wealth he accumulates comes from savings and possibly stock options.

The small business owner lacks the corporatist's 200 square feet of class A office space in a downtown high rise, located at the end of a 45 minute commute. Instead, he's got freedom. The small business owner largely controls his own destiny. He can build his business into anything he wants. And as he builds his business, he's building wealth.

Two men (or women) of equal ability. One builds a career. The other, a fortune.

And why does society hold the former in higher regard? Is it because he wears a uniform from Brooks Brothers instead of Dickies?

It seems that the pendulum is swinging. According to The Sun, British women no longer want stock traders, they want tradesmen...

YOU have probably looked for a plumber in the Yellow Pages before.

But now, if you're single and female, you're more likely to be looking for him in the dating pages.

Women in the UK are pulling the plug on romances with rich bankers in favour of picking up plumbers and brickies, according to a recent survey by dating site mysinglefriend.com.

Thanks to the recession, City boys in pinstripe suits are out. Girls want to hook handymen with a stable income as their Mr Right.

Now, if we can just win over the high school guidance counselors.

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