Learning skills for the job market | Letter, Nov. 22
The world needs plumbers, poets
It is true that college is not for everyone. Training in technical skills is important and should never be thought of as inferior to going to college. The world needs welders, plumbers, electricians and mechanics just as much as it needs lawyers, doctors, writers, social workers and physicists.
But those who claim that a four year-degree at a college should focus just on technical skills miss the point of college by a wide margin. In our current age, technology in the form of software and eventually robots will make many jobs obsolete.
Employers are looking for people who can read critically, think creatively, and draw upon a variety of perspectives to solve serious problems like how to feed growing populations, how to address climate change, and how to live a fulfilling life in an era of growing inequality and rampant consumerism. These challenges do require people who can read, write and do math. But they also require people who understand history, cultural diversity, natural sciences and human nature.
When a surgeon has a leaking toilet, they need a plumber. When a welder needs medical care, they need an M.D. When an electrician has a midlife crisis, they need a therapist. And when a rancher discovers ancient remains on their property, they need an archaeologist.
Suggesting that all the world needs are people with technical skills is naive, as is suggesting the opposite.
It is arguments like these that are making college unaffordable, as politicians cut more and more tax dollars from higher education, resulting in only wealthy kids attending college or less affluent students taking out massive loans.
Arguments against college and liberal arts education are arguments against understanding the world.
Ryan Cragun, Tampa
Medicare adopts cruel drug policy | Column, Nov. 24
Policy would have killed me
Having been a patient with a very aggressive cancer, I likely would not have survived had my doctors been forced to use the “most preferred drugs” as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services now instructs, instead of the combination that saved my life.
As has become the norm, more corporate dollars are overshadowing lives. For those subjected to “step therapy” treatments, the “let’s see if it works” mentality could end badly.
Patti Treadwell, St. Petersburg
Cartoonist, with a point of view | Epilogue, Nov. 27
The panel that stimulates
Having enjoyed the Tampa Bay area for more than 19 years now, I was blessed to have enjoyed the creative work of editorial cartoonist Wayne Stayskal. The epilogue describes some of Stayskal’s drawings that “attacked abortion.” Many of us on the conservative side would extend that by saying that abortion is an attack — on a life.
Mr. Stayskal was on task in his craft in that he elicited thought. Of course, those of us who still enjoy newspapers agree and disagree with the premise of editorial cartoons, but at least they stimulate our thinking process in usually one poignant panel. The talented and creative cartoonists of the editorial genre still on the job are most appreciated!
Kenn Sidorewich, Oldsmar