The Wall Street Journal editorial page today prints the following quotation from Camille Paglia : “We need a sweeping revalorization of the trades. The pressuring of middle-class young people into officebound, paper-pushing jobs is cruelly shortsighted. Concrete manual skills, once gained through the master-apprentice alliance in guilds, build a secure identity.”
Certainly, America needs to lead many more students out of the educational system and into skilled labor, and to stop preaching “no child left behind.” But to see office work as “paper pushing” is both ignorant and a recipe for the persecution of businessmen. The chief reason prosecutors could destroy Michael Milken, I am convinced, is that most people simply could not understand what he did for a living. And no wonder—if someone of Paglia’s intelligence cannot even understand the reality-orientation of ordinary office work.
If our educators want to be truly “multicultural,” perhaps they should drop their lessons on sex, race, and class in favor of lessons on industrialists, financiers, and market traders. In one way, at least, such studies should appeal to them: After all, it is largely the story of oppressed groups.