Jobs

Saturday, June 14, 2014
Not long ago I had a rather pleasant conversation with one Mr. Charlie White, candidate for Tennessee House District 27, the seat belonging to We The Peeps being vacated, thankfully, by Richard Floyd. Now some might say Richard's retiring, which begs the question... how does one "retire" from elective office? That's a subject for another day but as a small businessman who doesn't seem to particularly bow either to the Republican Party or Chamber of Commerce hierarchies, Charlie's at least worthy of speaking with further.
Though not willing to climb in his wagon yet, I'm standing on the sideboards. Any person who answers the phone to have some yahoo ask "What kind of nutcase are you to want to run for elective office?" and laugh about it deserves a good, hard look. But he's stolen one of my favorite expressions.

Too many people today are looking for positions when they ought to be looking for jobs.

I've always found the process people go through to settle into careers interesting. As adults it isn't too difficult. We're exposed to a wide variety of career fields in our day-to-day interface with others. Unless we're in a position like a lawyer I once met at my daughter's Brownie Scout cookout, a guy who truly hated his job but admitted he wasn't good with his hands or with numbers so he felt trapped, living the lifestyle so he couldn't chuck it and start over, and the pain in his eyes as he spoke about it was, well, it was painful to watch. But unless we're in a situation like his, we have options to change if we don't like what we're doing today. We can speak to friends or see others working as machinists, plumbers, electricians, engineers, secretaries, truck drivers, customer service representatives, or any number of other types of jobs, then go for it. This holds true even for more exotic jobs like a friend up the road here at Yonder Mountain I knew was a BikerBabe in her younger days, but who used to be a professional hooker too. Sometimes we're forced down a different career path than what we choose, decide we like it, and stay the course.

Waylon and Willie once admonished mothers not to allow their babies to grow up to be cowboys. I don't know too many parents who look at their newborns and say "This child's going to grow up to be a professional salesman," or welder, I&C technician, auto mechanic, carpenter, computer programmer, HVAC technician, chef, technical writer, fork lift driver, draftsman, butcher, baker, soldier, sailor, or candlestick maker either.

Neither do our schools.

Joey Garrison's article in the 8 May 2014 edition of the Nashville Tennessean, "Tennessee lags in high school math, reading on 'nation's report card',"cites from the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress that only 17 percent of last year's (2013) 12th-grade students in Tennessee reached the proficient level in math, while 31 percent did the same in reading. But it gets worse. Black studii in Tennessee scored 27 points lower, 22 points lower for Hispanics, than white studii. National averages were 29 and 21 points lower, respectively.

Seventeen percent in math, 31 in reading... how do our children and grandchildren present themselves for jobs, good jobs, with proficiency scores like these? How do we Tennesseans attract, or keep, employers when our children can't do better than this? It's easy if our elected officials hang a steak around our necks, which translates to buying the business with our TaxBucks, but why should taxpayers have to pay businesses to settle here when we're already paying for the supposed infrastructure? Tennessee claims an 86 percent high school graduation rate, but with proficiency scores like these what good is that high school diploma?

I know of at least one web site that proclaims, in bold letters, on its contact page "There's no need to Dial 1 for English. That's all we speak." But doesn't this presume those coming to their page can speak and read English in the first place? Our children are required to attend school until age (whatever). Parents are subject to legal sanctions if they don't. Do those children learn? Do those children have an environment conducive to learning? 17 and 31 percent...

Our elected officials bloviate about what they're going to do if elected or re-elected. Then what? Who among them presents us with a plan for improving our schools, or any other issue for that matter. Not many of them. Would it be a fair statement that all we hear, in general, is what they're going to do, not what their plan is for getting there? Oh yeah, and it's going to cost this much more than we're already spending.

"I'm gonna..."

Nationally, 40 percent or more of incoming college freshmen require remedial classes in order to meet basic course requirements. Degrees costing big bucks, financed with borrowed money, and our schools don't send studii ready for college without extra work. If they aren't ready for college, how can they be ready for an employer? If they aren't ready to join the workforce, how can they even begin to think about what they're going to make their careers?

I heard a recent interview with Lieutenant Colonel (LtC) Oliver North in which one of the interviewers commented "I've watched you over the years and in my opinion you've got a big ole pair of brass ones." This was a comment regarding LtC North's history of reporting news of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from hot fire zones after a distinguished career in the Marine Corps, and his response was "It helps to know where you're going and why you're going there."

How many of our politicians have a goal, where they're going, and a plan for getting there, why and how they're aiming for that goal? I submit... not many.

A goal... a plan... working the plan...

I had occasion to speak with my budette the former BikerBabe recently. I call her Butterfly because she's so little. Someone apparently dumped a couple of, we think, malamute dogs nearby and they'd taken up residence in the woods near her home. She was going to catch them so we could either locate their owners, if they'd wandered away from home, or, well, they'd be safe with The Gang. Like kids, 4... 6... there comes a point where it just doesn't matter any longer. Somehow the subject of careers and career changes came up and I had to ask "Butterfly, how did you get out of the hooking biz?" She grinned and said "Well, that was back in my 20s, in Florida, and I heard the local auto parts store needed a counter clerk. So I made an appointment and went over to apply for the job. I forgot to take off my badge and when I sat down with the owner he got real quiet. Then he asked about me being a professional hooker so I told him 'Yeah, well, I work down at the tomato packing plant and my job is hanging boxes on hooks to run down the conveyor, so that's my job title." He hired me right on the spot, before he could even get up off the floor from laughing."

And people call me a smartalec...

Royce Burrage, Jr.
Royce@Officially Chapped.org

Back To School Time In Tennessee

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, if you are a parent. For teachers, so much for the three-month vacation, huh? Most students are eager to get back to a schedule and see their friends. And for taxpayers, it is the announcement of a pending tax-free holiday. It is back to school time in Tennessee.  The truth is for most educators, public education has become a year-round ... (click for more)

Lest We Forget

Just after 9/11 I saw a cartoon of two aged veterans walking down a street lined with American flags in the window of every home and cars on the streets with flags in the windows.  One of them turned to the other and said, “You know,  this is the most colorful fall I can ever remember.”  It took a while but the patriotism waned.  Let’s not let that happen ... (click for more)

Several Sections Of Chattanooga Freeway To Be Closed Thursday Night, Early Friday For Median Repair

Several sections of Chattanooga freeways will be completely closed Thursday night and early Friday for median repairs. TDOT Operations crews will be performing an emergency repair of a damaged median barrier wall on I-24 East at mile marker 178 on Thursday from 8 p.m. to Friday at 6 a.m. I-24 East will be completely closed at the high bridge at mile marker 178 beginning at ... (click for more)

Young Man Involved In Incident That Led To A Murder Gets Diversion, Praise For Testifying

A young man who was involved in an incident that led to a murder has been given diversion and praised for testifying against co-defendants. Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman said a conviction for facilitation of an aggravated robbery can be expunged if Dustin Hayes gets in no further trouble for six years. The judge said, "We wouldn't be dealing with 40 shootings a year ... (click for more)

Robert Powderly Still Active After All Of These Years

It didn’t take long for Robert Powderly to get fully involved in the running boom back in the late 70s. Millions of Americans joined the parade back in those days where running was their main source of physical fitness and Powderly was a big part of it. Powderly is now 68 and retired from U.S. Pipe where he worked in the accounting department.   He’s also had a couple ... (click for more)

Owls, Eagles Look Back Differently At 2014 Showdown

For the first time since they played in the second round of the 2014 Class AAA state football playoffs, a few Ooltewah and Rhea County players were together Wednesday at the Region 4-5A media day at The Bridge in Ooltewah. The Owls and Eagles, obviously, have polar-opposite thoughts on last year’s second round game in Evensville on a brutally cold Friday night. That’s because ... (click for more)