This week I came across a Stephen Hawking quote that reminded me of one of the root problems facing America today, “Asked if he believed he was the most intelligent person in the world, he gave a sharp response, ‘I would never claim this.  People who boast about their IQ are losers.’”

As corollary, I’m also troubled by those people who must brandish a PhD degree as if they were wearing a kingly crown.  I have forever been suspicious of the individuals who place “,PhD” after their names on all letters and documents they sign.  (What does that mean?  Are they telling us they’re intellectually superior?)

Henry Allen’s column, “The Knowledge Class vs. The Factory Class,” in The Washington Post  puts these issues into practical perspective:

 .  .  . The new class (“The Knowledge Class”) talked about intelligence as if it were a moral virtue along the lines of courage or patience, even though intelligence is only a tool with no more moral virtue than a crowbar. Acing the SATs became tantamount to sainthood.

 The country seemed seized by the glamour of brains. Working-class heroes vanished from television sitcoms. By 1971, Ralph Kramden, Jackie Gleason’s big-hearted bus driver in “The Honeymooners,” would become Carroll O’Connor’s Archie Bunker, the blue-collar bigot.
 An essay published by the Museum of Broadcast Communications said: “The movement of working-class people to the periphery of television’s dramatic worlds” in favor of the upper classes gave ‘the impression that those not among these classes are deviant.’

 The impression remains, as contempt or condescension. Here’s Walter Russell Mead, a noted policy scholar, saying in a recent blog posting that revolutions in information technology create ‘the potential for unprecedented abundance and a further liberation of humanity from meaningless and repetitive work.’

 I’d thought these revolutions had liberated stand-ups from this work by throwing them out of it, but what caught my eye was the “meaningless and repetitive.” What an odd thing to say — Mead might just as well be describing what it’s like to be a stockbroker or a big-firm lawyer. He isn’t, though, because these are knowledge-class jobs, and this rap about ‘meaningless’ is usually reserved for the stand-up class.  .  .  .  “

What can be done in order for us to become more respectful of all professions?

Certainly, the stigma attached to vocational-technical education must be removed.  In many European countries, an apprenticeship program bestows on its graduates respect for their high level of skill.   But in America, the vo-tech track is, too often, perceived as dead-end — catering to society’s most disadvantaged by providing a minimum of skills designed to be used as a safety net from poverty.

In these divisive political times, we must all reach out and heal the wounds that have separated us.  It is certainly past time for the “Knowledge Class” to cast aside whatever elitist beliefs they have been promulgating and to recognize that skilled working people in all professions deserve the same opportunities and benefits offered by a free society.  Above all, hard working Americans in all walks of life deserve our non-judgmental respect.

Today, we automatically admire the exceptionally intelligent and the extraordinarily creative.  The highly skilled are equally worthy of that same admiration.

 More on Monday  –  –  –

  — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning
      March 22, 2017  (Mondays & Wednesdays)


 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner,, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)